Digging Up History in Porto Torres, Sardinia

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia

you imagine? You are building a new train station, and every
time you put a shovel to the ground you dig up an ancient
statue, vase or Roman coin. This is the case in Porto Torres–a
working dock city on the island of Sardinia.

Like a great
many cities in Italy, Porto Torres was built and rebuilt, each civilization
one on top of the next.

Geography played a huge part in the development
of this colony, as ships came to the harbor directly from Rome.
Prior to the Romans, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians used the
harbor as a seaport. The harbor now is serviced by ferry boats shuttling
people and goods back and forth from Genoa, Italy and Marseille,
France, as well as the island of Corsica.

Invading hoards
and malaria have both plagued the history of Porto Torres, making
the further inland city of Sassari the more significant, but in
our entire stay there we saw neither hoard nor mosquito. It had
come to our attention that, in fact, malaria had been wiped from
Sardinia in the 1950s. We hope the hoards stay away as well.

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia There
is a important excavation happening at this moment of the
ancient Roman colony of Turris Lybisonis. Having to fulfill
the needs of the Roman people, the Turris Lybisonis was equipped
with thermal baths and temples, the most significant of these
dedicated to Fortuna, goddess of luck,
chance and, you guessed it, fortune. The Antiquarium Turritano houses
many of the artifacts found by citizens of the city, many times

their work and everyday lives. We were most impressed by
the many mosiacs painstakingly reassembled by the patient historians
assigned to this important project. Those guys are crazy patient.

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia Because
the excavation is an ongoing venture, the city does not allow
bumbling tourists to crawl about on the ruins, so we had to
be satisfied to keep our big, clumsy feet on the outskirts,
sneaking over the tracks of the
nearby train station to get the best views. We were helped greatly
by a sly old man who knew the best trail for our covert actions.

One of the
most fascinating attractions of Porto Torres is the 1st century
Roman bridge, spanning the Mannu River, that has stayed in use
through the centuries to this day. The bridge was the key reason
we decided to venture to Porto Torres and although we were unable
to walk across due to renovation, we were able to hike down and
see its seven arches from the river below. The length of these
arches are asymmetrical and the blocks of stone used were enormous,
giving the structure an impossible, unwieldy air. Fantastic.

Porto Torres
is also home to the most amazing cookies we’ve ever seen.
They are literally works of art. Upon entering the bakery of Trincas
M Chiara, a charming Sardinian man laden with freebies, we were
surrounded by the scent of fresh baked deliciousness and the lacy
artistry of cookies for all occasions.

Wedding Cookies in Porto Torres, Sardinia

The most beautiful of these were the traditional wedding cookies
of the region called dolce della sposa or sweets of the bride.
The proprietor explained to us that each of the cookies were handmade,
that there was no factory involved. The time and attention put
into each one of these little masterpieces was astounding, we
felt as though we were in a gallery. How could we leave without
some newly purchased goodies to take with us to the beach?

Balai Beach in Porto Torres, Sardinia Ahhh…we
were the beautiful people. Seriously, don’t they all
hang out on Mediterranean beaches? Our white-sanded beach,
Balai, was shared by our fellow beautiful people basking in
the sun, sailing little boats and fishing off of the interesting
rock jetties (venturing out on the rocks was a bit painful on the
feet–the little children running on them had convinced us to

out barefoot, but shoes would have been a better choice). Blue water,
a fabulous view, sun kissed red noses and warm sand between our
toes–life would have to work pretty hard to improve on this.

Fortuna had clearly smiled upon us.

David &
Veronica, GypsyNester.com

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3 thoughts on “Digging Up History in Porto Torres, Sardinia”

  1. It gives me goosebumps to walk through a still living city or town, knowing that beneath is often the remains of past times and civilizations. Under Washington Square in Philadelphia, where people sit on park benches for lunch or walk their dogs, are the 18th century graves of African Americans, 2,600 Revolutionary War soldiers and victims of a 1793 yellow fever epidemic.

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