Wonder. The feeling you get when you stand in an historical site. Somehow the knowledge that you are standing in the same spot as someone, thousands of years before, who paced the earth as you do gives you a perspective that is difficult to describe. In many destinations you have to search for these kinds of historical sites.
In Sardinia, the history surrounds you making it impossible to forget those that have come before. The more than 7,000 Nuraghe, created by people more than three-thousand years ago, are perched on most every hill and near every road. Ruins of ancient Phoenician, Carthaginian, and Roman towns, perched in some of the most beautiful locations leave you with an appreciation that will always stay with you. Everything from the architecture to the Spanish towers dotting the coastline remind you of the rich past this island holds.
This package includes car rental, 4-star hotels, all breakfasts, 5 dinners and a documentation kit (see details for more information)
1 - Cagliari
Cagliari is Sardinia's largest city and a center for many art, music, and cultural events. This first evening is designed to allow you to pick up the rental car at the airport and relax at your hotel. Take some time to settle in and perhaps take in a stroll and get a gelatto. Don't worry that there's so much to see as you will return at the end of the trip.
2 - Nora, Sant'Antioco, Nebida, Antas, Oristano
Your first day of touring will be filled with the many classical sites along this unspoiled coastal route which has been settled for more than 5,000 years. The first stop will be at the Punic Roman city of Nora where you can walk among the ruins and view the mosaics and amphitheater of this ancient seaside community.
You will continue along the majestic blue coastline to the island of Sant'Antioco. The city, founded in the 8th century and named Sulki, was used by the Carthaginians during the second Punic War. As you travel accross the causeway that connects the island to the mainland you can see the remains of the Roman bridge and two large menhirs said to be the petrified remains of a monk and a nun who planned to elope. Here, you will visit the Tophet, a necropolis where excavations have revealed urns used to hold the ashes of Phoenician babies.
Continuing on, you will visit the ancient mines near Nebida. These mines were the heart of the Sardinian economy in ancient and modern times and the ruins show a working past not often encountered.
A short drive inland will take you to the historic temple of Antas, only discovered in 1966 and believed to be an ancient site of worship going as far back as the nuraghic civilizations. The Carthaginians erected a temple to Sid Addir Babài and Romans later rebuilt it and dedicated it to Sardus Pater, creator of the Sardinians.
Continue north through Guspini and Arborea to Oristano where you will enjoy dinner and fine service at a four-star hotel.
3 - Tharros, Bosa, Torralba, Alghero
In the morning you will visit the ancient site of Tharros, Sardinia's greatest Punic city. Founded by the Phoenicians in about 730 BC, Tharros offered a safe port for the many Mediterranean cargo ships. Even after Roman power in 238 BC the city flourished.
Following up the coast, you will head for the town of Bosa, situated on the Temo, the only navigable river in Sardinia. This quiet town sits quietly overlooked by the remains of the large Castello Malaspina. Venture into its center and the remnants of a medieval town encompass you as you walk through the narrow passageways in its historic center.
Heading inland, a stop at Torralba will provide a glimpse into the ancient people of the region. This area is rich with remnants of a society of people going back several thousand years. There are the domus de janas, and tombs of the giants, still marking the burial places of long ago. These fascinating people survived the many occupations of foreigners and are a link to the first civilizations that settled in the Mediterranean.
Arriving in Alghero in the late afternoon, you will have time to relax and maybe a bit of shopping before a dinner of the unique cuisine of this Catalan town. Be sure to listen and look for the spanish touch in words and names.
4 - Alghero
This day is reserved for exploring the town of Alghero, shopping and if you prefer, a visit to the nearby Grotta di Nettuno which is carved out of the rocky Capo Caccia and juts nearly 8,250 feet deep inside the surrounding cliffs. Alghero was conqurered by the Aragonese in 1353 and has always been the most Spanish city on the island.
5 - Castelsardo, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Porto Cervo, Olbia
This day will take you along the picturesque and beautiful northern coast and the Costa Smeralda. Your first stop will be in Castelsardo, an ancient town that extends on a hillside out into the sea. Overlooking the town is the Castello which has been converted to hold a small museum highlighting the local traditional baskets made nearby. Wander through the narrow streets and shop among the local merchants, many with traditional Gallurese products for sale.
6 - Nuoro, Santa Cristina, Mogoro, Villanovaforru, Cagliari
After breakfast head to Nuoro, the largest city in Sardinia's heart. Here, you will visit the birthplace of Grazia Deledda, the 1926 Nobel Prize Winner for literature. Nuoro feels different from many of the islands towns and it strenuously holds onto its rich culture and traditions. Costumes and Sardinian traditions are highlighted in the Museo Etnografico which holds many artifacts from daily life.
You will continue on to the Nuraghic village of Santa Cristina and visit the Holy Well, a worship site dating back to about 1,000 BC. It is well preserved and its religious significance carried into more modern times where a church was built in honor of Santa Cristina and crowds still flock there for the saint's feast day.
Mogoro is the home to carpet weaving and this handicraft can still be seen much as it has been practiced for hundreds of years. You will visit and have a chance to see how these intricate decorations are made.
At the end of the journey you will return to Cagliari and settle in at your hotel and enjoy an evening meal and maybe a walk through its historic streets.
7 - Cagliari
Cagliari has much to see, both for the historian and the visitor. Founded by Phoenicians it later became the Roman town of Karalis and has passed through many hands on its journey to today's world. Visit the Roman amphitheater, still used for concerts and opera (check for performances). Visit the Castello district where the protective towers still stand gaurd and offer a splendid view of the cityscape. Visit the Museo Archaeologico where many of the bronzes from ancient times can be found along with many Phoenician and Roman artifacts. The afternoon time is set aside for your own exploration and visiting the many shops and markets. In the evening there is a farewell dinner and time for all to prepare for the next day's departure.
8 - Depart
Departures are usually in the afternoon, leaving some time for last-minute looks about town. It may be a good idea to set aside extra time for some days of rest and relaxation in one of the nearby resort towns where a leisurely day or two at the beach can be had. Extra day arrangements should be made in advance and we will be glad to make suggestions.