Close Encounters of the Polizi Kind

After a few days at the site near Tharros, we decide to ditch the plan to go south to Cagliari and drive across the island of Sardinia to the east coast at Tortoli. We’ve seen nowhere on our site to empty the grey water waste from the tank under our van, so we ditch it on the dirt track that leads to the road. We need to shop for groceries. A quick sweep via SATNAV tells us there’s a ‘Eurospin’ at Cabras, ten miles down the road, so we head there, following the directions. Upon entering Cabras, a somewhat nondescript town, I spot the ‘Eurospin’ sign, its tall, blue, star-studded emblem standing in front of a bulldozed building site.

We turn around and head back towards a brand new shopping centre up a ramp, where I catch sight of ‘Conad’ [renamed ‘Gonad’ by us on a previous occasion]. As we move to the access lane I notice a vehicle pulling level with us, then see it is a polizi car and worse, the window is down and the police officer is screeching something at us. Horrors! He points to our waste outlet, now dribbling a miniscule drip on to the road. ‘Es una problema!’ he shouts at me. ‘It’s nothing’ I say, ‘it’s just water!’ He continues to shout and we turn off up the ramp. I look behind and offer thanks to some unknown deity that the polizi are not accompanying us to Gonad.

We strike out across the countryside, soon beginning an ascent on a mountain road which feels too narrow to me, the passenger sitting on the left with vehicles hurtling towards me round hairpin bends. It’s up and on up, winding high until we enter one of those villages that clings to the mountainside as if a giant has thrown armfuls of toy houses down the hill. It’s pretty as a picture but with nowhere whatsoever to park a van we’re obliged to drive through to the other side- where at least we do find somewhere to stop and photograph the views. But they do not do justice to the panoramic vista stretched out below, a snaking series of hairpin bends and, incongruously, a football pitch halfway down.

We continue on the mountain road, stopping for coffee at almost the top, by a sign warning us of stray cattle- not a worry that had preoccupied me on the white-knuckle drive. At last we’re following the road through a quarry, the entire plant occupying both sides of the road and drop down towards the sea and Tortoli. We find the site we’ve chosen, as usual a good way out of town and away from any village or community, which appears to be the norm in Sardinia.

It’s one of those swish, ‘village’ type sites with pool, loungers, beach access through a swathe of palm trees and what looks like a creditable restaurant. This is lucky, as we’re not anywhere near the town of Tortoli although we can see the port, way around the bay along the huge, breezy beach.

The site is half empty. Our neighbours are two young Italian couples and a small boy. The women wander off with the child while the young men set to pitching the tents, stringing up the fairy lights and installing hammocks between the trees. Once the hammocks [four] are in place, the larger man, who clearly enjoys his pasta, tries out a hammock, instantly stretching it to the ground where it tips him out. The fact that we’re watching with interest places no constraints on the pair’s activities. They’re delighted to have caught our attention, especially when the two light bulbs they’ve inserted work and we applaud.

In spite of being way out of town and the only place to eat, the restaurant is excellent and I select a fishy carbonara which is simply delicious.

With nothing other than beach we decide to make the next hop up the coast, working our way up northwards towards the Costa Smeralda…

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.

Alghero to Tharros via the Nuraghi

We’re keen to get a close look at a Sardinian ‘nuraghi’. Sardinia is littered with the remains of these circular, stone buildings in various states of preservation. Many are simply piles of stones lying around in the countryside or in the fields. Others have been preserved. They are ancient megalithic buildings and were constructed during the nuragic era from between 1700 and 730 BC.

So, on leaving Alghero we strike out into the interior with the intention of stopping somewhere near Tharros but taking in a nuraghi en route. The landscape is rocky and barren. Nuraghi Losa seems to be on our way and in fact is only just off the main road we’re taking, providing not only a cultural, historic experience but also, with a spacious car park, an excellent lunch stop on the way. Sardinia, we’ve found is not overrun with picnic stops and rest areas.

At the site there’s a ticket counter and also a small cafe and gift shop. The two women running the enterprise seem a little disorganised, but we do obtain tickets and manage to avoid too much of a lecture, preferring to read the texts at the site for ourselves. We are almost alone as we walk up the track towards the imposing nuraghi and begin to explore. It’s impressive, the central structure surrounded by further, circular rooms and there are two ‘floors’ accessed by haphazard, stone steps. Inside the gloom of the main part it’s cooler, with small recesses like cupboards around the walls.

We ascend to the top, from where a panoramic view over the surrounding countryside can be seen. Then it’s time to press on towards the coast at Cabras, where we’ll check into another site. Relying on our ACSI campsite book, we find our preferred site, but for the first time we’re out of luck and it’s full up. We move to another one. It’s right out in the middle of nowhere, with beach access down through a field- a huge, windswept expanse of beach, the sand consisting of fine grains of quartz.

The site is basic, the showers containing nothing except the shower hose- no shelf, no rail, not so much as a hook! My ‘bag-for-life’ has never been more essential and has to go on the wet floor. The water supply, once we’ve found it, is brackish and unpalatable. There is allegedly a restaurant, although it all looks as if it’s been packed away for the end of season. There is a rudimentary bar, complete with live, dancing parrot, but internet is non-existent.

It’s around 7.00pm when some women appear and begin flourishing tablecloths, cleaning chairs and bustling about in the kitchen area behind the bar and in an astonishing metamorphosis the covered platform is converted into a thriving restaurant where people begin to gather up. Soon most of the tables are occupied so we hasten to join them. The menu is limited to half a dozen dishes, a great idea- I’d much prefer a few delicious options than dozens of mediocre offerings. The Sardinian pasta dishes are quite specialised and our food is great.

While we’re in the middle of nowhere here, the ancient site of Tharros is about 10 miles away. This would be a good cycling distance, but unlike our Swiss neighbours here on site we haven’t brought our bikes, there being few opportunities on the tricky roads and mountain passes [although keen sports cyclists are everywhere, of course].

The weather remains stiflingly hot but turns overcast and breezy- not beach weather, so we opt to take the van out to Tharros and to the tiny village of San Giovanni Battista, which has a 6th century church. Once we’re there I remember visiting the charming old church and the village before, although I don’t think we toured the archaeological site last time, which we do now. There is a mere handful of fellow visitors as we follow the path around the [mostly rebuilt] ruins. It’s a fine view, then we walk up to the tower on the hill behind and clamber up the steps- to be told we’ll need to buy a ticket to peer out of the small window at the top. Needless to say, we descend without looking. The view from outside the tower is adequate!

Back at the site, we deliberate long and hard about getting down to Cagliari. The fact is- our leisure batteries aren’t holding their charge long enough for us to use an aire and the wifi is too poor for us to find a site near Sardinia’s capital. There isn’t one in our ACSI book. Reluctantly, we give up and decide we’ll cross over to the east coast, to Tortoli.

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.