Friday, April 28, 2006

The Trip to Sardena - Carloforte

Carloforte, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

The last couple of days were to be spent in the asouth of the isalnd, first on the Island of San Pietro in the south west, and then the last day in Cagliari before catching the ferry back to Civitavecchia.

It was a longish drive, for what is not such a large island and we stopped off at Santo Sperate, which is something of an art town, but not in the typical Tuscan, medieval/renaissance kind of way, but a modern street art sort of way. Many are on flickr, ranging from old cultrural temes to modern political and abstract themes. Very impressive, that they could ind so many artists in such a small place.

The cat needed a shave and managed to find a barbers set in an ordinary detached house which is soon to become a mueseum. A museum of sea art. The owner, teh barber, is not just an artist of the hair, but also of sea shells and has made a large number of items out of glueing sea shells to wooden frames to create ships and houses and boats. This will happen when he retires from cutting ahir in October, he told us very proudly.

Form there it was a drive west on the 80 km/hour mx. dual carriageway, which like most roads in Sardinia is empty, past the modern mining towns of Iglesias and Carbonia. Both had been established as proper towns by Mussolini who again appeared to show that he had done more good for Italy than the modern Berlusconi.

A stop was made for lunch at San Antiocho, a strange place with a harbour and long sea front which did not have a single fish restaurant along its stretch, meaning we had to go further inland to a place, albeit with a view across the sea, but which insisted on playing the worst type of 1980's Euro soft rock. Incredible that they could put together such a bad collection of music.

The other side of the San Antiocho Island, a mere 6 kms away, in Calasetta, it appeared we had just missed the ferry boat to Carloforte so had time to kill wandering around the sea front and narrow streets, brimming with authentic looking fish and seafood restaurants, while fishermen brought in their coloured boats with fresh catches.

Carloforte, the other side was a place to fall in love with, with its colourful streets, busy sea front, full of ferries and rusting old fishing boats, flower decked balconies, bars and restaurants and lively holiday ambience.

It used to be a major tuna fishing centre, but this declined in the 1970's with the onset of industrial fishing techniques brought by the Spanish who fished out the waters in deep sea, leaving the tuna population in sharp decline.

In the past, the Punics and the Romans arrived on the island, but they didn't stay for long.with the Punics only leaving only a temple and the Romans some small settlements.

The "Tabarchini", Ligurians living on an island called Tabarka close to Tunisia, were the first inhabitants of the island of S. Pietro. They were mainly fishermen and coral gatherers, continuously subject to persecutions by pirates. For this reason they asked King Carlo Emanuele III to permit them to settle on the little island. The King accepted and the Tabarchini called their village Carloforte in honour of him. In this way, the town has a feel quite reminiscent of the towns of Liguria, under Genova, again with the brightly coloured plasterwork and intricate balconies.

There was a Sacra - a food festival on - so many stalls were set up promoting and selling local products including tinned tuna (obviously a few tuna have survived), jars of delicious sauces and pastes - tomatoes, artichokes, aubergine, olives and so on... we tasted the tomato paste last night! We tried some gattó, which was very sugary and far too sweet. Great photo opportunities everywhere in this colourful town.

In order to catch the setting sun over the clear blue sea, we made off towards La Punta, or Punta Putana, as I liked to call it, for views across to Sardegna and out to the wider Mediterranean, while gulls flew overhead. I was half expecting to sea dolphins or seals, but the Mediterranean often disappoints with this type of sea-life, although going back the other way, past some mud-flats there were some flamingoes to be seen.

Dinner was delicious - especially the pasta I had - spaghetti - with a sauce of tuna, lemon, sheeps cheese, parsley, garlic and black olves (all finely chopped). Well recommended, especially with a glass or two of Vermintino.


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