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Sardinia’s Stunning Northwestern Coast

Road trip: drive a little strip of Sardinian paradise between Alghero and Bosa

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Alghero is one of Sardinia’s most interesting cities. Ownership of it has passed through so many hands you can speak many languages and someone in Alghero can probably answer you. It’s smack on the sea, and the renewed lungomare makes as fine a place to stroll as any on the island.  There are also some very compelling archaeological sites close by that will start you out with a little history of the island and its turbulent takeovers.

After a few days of exploring the sites and the beaches and the shopping, we’ll head south down the coast and head for another beautiful town, perhaps the most attractive in all Sardinia: Bosa. We’ll splurge on Bosa’s famous spiny lobsters. We’ll quaff some Malvasia di Bosa. Then we’ll take to the countryside to discover some artisan arts and crafts.

Give it a week and you’ll get an outline of what the island of Sardinia is all about.

Enjoying Alghero

On your first day you’ll want to stay home and enjoy Alghero. Stroll the cobbled lanes. Shop for jewelry made from the unique red coral found off the coast here. A shop called Agostino Marogna, Piazza Civica 34, is the best know in the city. Jewelry is hand made here–and expensive.

l’altra isola is a shop featuring traditional Sardinian crafts like the unique rugs made by women in tiny villages all across

When it’s time for lunch, stop in at Bar Focacceria Milese on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 11. If you’ve ever had a sandwich consisting of a roll and a single slice of prosciutto at a bar anywhere else in Italy be ready for a surprise. Just look at that loaded sandwich below, and it isn’t done yet. Have it with an Ichnusa beer and welcome to the island.

focaccia sandwich
In-Process Sandwiches at the Bar Focacceria Milese

After lunch head back to the hotel and nap like everyone else. If you don’t crave sleep, then take advantage of the quiet during the hours from 2 to 5. If you’ve purchased coral jewelry, you may wish to visit the Coral Museum, Museo Del Corallo. Take 45 minutes to learn the history of “Corallium Rubrum” – the primary resource here.

Then, as the sun sets, get dressed in your casual finest, and join the Italian stroll, the passagiata, by joining the folks strolling the Lungomare Dante. Stop at any bar or enoteca (wine bar) when you get thirsty. We suggest a glass, un bicchiere of a unique white wine only grown in this corner of Sardinia called Torbato. It comes in still, fermo, and sparkling, frizzante.

Then continue strolling, find a restaurant that suits you, and eat. If you like seafood, enjoy it now.

Culture and History Day

Day two takes you out of the city and points you north to some prehistoric sites that are part of Sardinia’s unique cultural heritage. Your first stop will be Nuraghe Palmavera, an important 12th century BC complex of towers and huts. It’s one of the few towers close to the sea in Sardinia. Just in case archaeological remains aren’t your thing, the Nuraghe and village is close to one of the best beaches of the area, Spiaggia delle Bombarde or Bombarde beach.

Your second stop is the amazing Domus de janas, or “fairy houses” of Anghelu Ruju. It’s a burial site of a type you probably haven’t seen before. Not only that, but the museum is in a winery, and a darn good one at that. You’ll need to make reservations to see it.

The archaeology here is near the airport you likely used to get to the island. The Alghero/Fertilia Airport. If the name sounds somewhat modern and made-up, it is. Fertilia is one of three “Mussolini towns” in Sardinia. Il Duce drained swamps (like the pontine marshes outside of Rome) to create fertile agricultural land. He also tried to eliminate the Malaria which had become endemic here since the medival times. Fertilia contains some Rationalist architecture; Fascist engineer Arturo Miraglia came up with a master plan for Fertilia based on the English Garden City design. You can see this architecture throughout the town, but it’s especially evident at La chiesa parrochiale di San Marco.

By evening you’ll be ready for city life again.  And you’ll know the uniqueness that is Sardinia.

domus de Janus
“Fairy Houses” in Anghelu Ruju

Hit Alghero’s Beaches

Your last day in Alghero should be one to enjoy slowly. Head for one of the beaches (Spiaggia del Lido di Alghero is right in town), see a museum, or just stroll the town. Or…see a church. The Chiesa di San Francesco was built in the 14th century and restored during the Renaissance. Head for the cloisters for some peace.

On to Bosa

Before leaving Alghero, say goodby to the city by visiting the 14th-century Torre Porta a Terra, one of the two main gates into the medieval city. It opens at 9:30 in the morning and from the top you can see the whole city laid out before you. They you’ll head south on SP105,  driving serpentine between high volcanic cliffs where you might hear the cries of the colony of griffon vultures as well as different species of birds of prey. The best  time to enjoy this road trip is spring when the Mediterranean shrub land comes alive with color and heady scents and the sheep graze serenely.

Bosa features a Castle at the top of town. Bosa Marina is on the sea, while the city is strung out on both sides of the Temo river, the only navigable river in Sardinia.

Your first afternoon should be spent wandering. First hike up to the Malaspina castle to see how Bosa is configured. When you’re done with the castle head down to the river, cross it and head left, walking just outside the city to the 1075 AD San Pietro Extramuros, which was near the location of the ancient Punic and Roman town of Bosa.

By now you may long for a glass of Malvasia di Bosa at a bar or enoteca. Dinner follows. If you are loaded (with money) you might want to try the Bosa Spiny Lobsters, they’re the best of Sardinia. Try them at Ristorante Sa Pishedda on Via Roma, 2.

Sardinian Arts and Crafts Around Bosa

Bosa was once a town of lace-makers. The lace design derives from the knots on fishermen’s nets. They call it “Bosa Filet Lace”. You might be lucky to find someone in front of their house making it, but the craft is dying.

Today, your fifth day, will be spent driving out of Bosa to see murals and baskets. A short drive west  brings you to Tinnura, a city covered in Murals. These aren’t the gritty, political style of murals you see in the mountain village of Orgosolo. This town saw better times, and the art turned to the area’s traditional crafts.

One of those crafts is basket-making. But there’s a twist. The baskets of Flussio, just down the street from Tinnura (you can walk) are made of asphodel stems. You can buy a piece of a dying craft. Just do it.

Return to Bosa to eat. For a seafood splurge, try the restaurant at Lido Chelo in Bosa Marina, where you can also elect to stay for a night or more.

Extending Your Northern Sardinia Itinerary

You might spend another day exploring Bosa, or head south down the coast to Oristano and the fascinating Sinis Peninsula.

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At A Glance

Price Range:
midrange
Most Suited to:
single
couples
Season:
spring
summer
fall
Length:
longer

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