Alghero and an Italian Summer

Summer is in full swing and accommodation is harder to find and more expensive.  We have a budget, which at this time of the year is frequently blown.  We also have criteria – we need parking and internet.

So the hotel that matched our criteria was some way out of town, with a private beach.  What we found was a relic of the seventies.  I could imagine James Bond walking out of the water in his dry suit and stripping it off to reveal a beautifully coutured dinner suit.  Except the hotel was still in the seventies – with a swimming pool, seaside bar and restaurant to match.  Breakfast was served on the terrace and you had to fight for a table, as teams of Italian families enjoyed the magic of this ancient relic.

Restaurants in the local village were friendly and inexpensive – a great way to balance the budget!

15km away, the walled city of Alghero is charming, with narrow streets full of bars, cafes and souvenir shops.  It has the expected variety of churches, only to be outdone by the towers that surround the old city.

We couldn’t resist visiting Neptune’s Grotto.  It is an easy 600+ steps down the cliff, but a rather more arduous climb up again in the warm evening. The grotto is very pretty, particularly as it has lakes that reflect the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.  It and other unadvertised caves are hidden in the limestone cliffs that sprout out of the sea of the capes.

We visited the Nuraghe Palmavera, one of many Nuraghe dotted around the island which date back to 16th to 12th centuries BC.  This one has a particularly well preserved meeting hut with a central table, supposedly for celebration rituals.  Houses in the Nuraghe villages were typically round in shape with a conical roof of timber and straw.  The tower in the centre of the village acted as a bastion or lookout and also a store room.

The Nuraghe people became adept at making bronze which it appears they traded with their neighbours in what is now France and Italy.  They lived in harmony with the Phonecians who came to trade with them from the area of the eastern Mediterranean.

Another remarkable site was the Angelu Ruju tombs of the late Neolithic period, 3400-3200 BC.  These underground tombs, cut into rocks, are also scattered throughout Sardinia and some date back as far as 6th and 5th millennium but were used continuously until the Middle Ages.

The tombs were made up of a number of chambers ad corridors – remarkably similar to what we saw at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt!