Sardinia III – Torre Grande

21-26 September 2017

At Torre Grande we had a couple of beach days with absolutely perfect temperatures for us – around 26℃ with a nice breeze – and enjoyed the novelty of a real sun lounger although Danny complained it hurt his knees. One afternoon we watched kids of 9 or 10 learning to sail on neat little sailing skiffs. They seemed fearless and were loving every moment – what a wonderful childhood experience.

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On our second beach day we found that all but the front row of sun loungers had been put away for winter so ended up between two very vociferous Italian families. In one group were 3 ladies who loved to talk and while we love the expressiveness and musicality of the Italian language, there are times ……

One evening we walked down to the beach to watch a lovely Sardinian sunset, looking out across the bay to the low hills of Capo San Marco with it’s lighthouse, and Tharros with its watch-tower standing out against the skyline.

We had picked Spinnaker campsite just for its’ proximity to Tharros which allowed us to cycle out there. Situated on the narrow southernmost tip of the Sinis peninsula it was a nice round trip of 20 miles and we found the drivers are not as intimidating as in Corsica. On route we stopped to check out flamingoes on the lagoon of Stagno di Cabras and got the bonus of an osprey out hunting. We passed small farms, fields with sheep and cattle, small vineyards with men harvesting the grapes by hand, olive groves, and fields full of a strange plant we finally worked out were young artichokes.

When we reached the site at Tharros it was time for lunch so we stopped at a small shack for a quick bite and had the entertainment of a basketful of kittens who couldn’t stop playing. So cute.

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We walked past the fifth-century church of San Giovani di Sinis and on to the excavations. The site is a beautiful location, a hill on a finger of land with the sea lapping around it and great 360 degree views.

Originally settled by the Nuragics around 17,000 BC the remains of their structures still stand amongst later buildings. The land around would have been wooded in those days and the location with is views and height would have been very defensible – as well as having a great beach!

Most of the site however is from 800BC onwards, the Phoenicians first followed by the Punics (Carthaginians) and then the Romans. The site was only deserted in the 11th century AD due to Saracen raids causing the population to move inland to Oristano.   Temples, Roman baths, houses, water storage, Phoenician burial grounds and roads covered with basalt slabs. Some of the settlement has not yet been excavated and some is underwater following a rise in sea levels. For us, the site was fascinating.

After we left the excavations we walked 5-minutes uphill to the the highest point and it’s Spanish watchtower. It felt quite wild and ‘edge of the world’.

We cycled back via Torre Grande where we rode right into the middle of a, well, a celebration I suppose you would call it. There was a stage setup in front of the big tower that Torre Grande is named after and Oristano high school were putting on a series of displays – dancing, ballet, roller-blading, gymnastics watched by enthusiastic relatives.

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Thankfully we didn’t witness any singing but we were generally impressed with the quality of the performances (we know so much about this stuff!).

Our last day at Torre Grande we got the bus into Oristano and located San Martino Hospital in the hope of getting Kate’s 3-monthly injection done. Wandering around feeling a little lost we found a lovely lady called Suzanna, a volunteer. Despite not speaking a word of English and quickly realising that we couldn’t speak any Italian, she gamely committed to trying to help us. A depressing wait in A&E  followed by a couple of circuits of the hospital and we ended up 20m from where we had first met Suazanna where an obliging doctor with some English gravely examined Kate’s documents and handed her over to the nurse. Job done, thanks to Suzanna.

Back at the site the place was quiet and a large number of the motorhome pitches were taped off, we assumed in preparation for closure on the 29th. How wrong we were. Late afternoon a large number of motorhomes started rolling in, tearing down the tape and parking up – a touring group from the biggest camping cub in the world, the Netherlands Camping Club (NKC). All  supervised by a guy with clipboard and pen. Kept us entertained for a good hour.

Not long after, a small VWQ camper van containing a german couple turned up and parked up next to us. He was very chatty and kept apologising for his ‘bad’ english which made us feel even even more inadequate than normal as we thought it really good and have only really mastered yes, no, please, thank you and ordering two beers in his language. We had a lovely chat before retiring to bed.

Overnight there was a very long and very noisy thunderstorm with heavy rain but in the morning we found to our relief that the ground under the van was good so went to reception to pay up. When the receptionist found Danny’s passport was Irish she enthusiastically launched into a discussion of the struggle for independence which was fascinating as both Corsica and Sardinia have strong independence movements. She told us that there are pockets all over the island who are trying to reintroduce the native language,  suppressed since Mussolini. We wished her luck.

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Back at the van we found we had missed a real drama – apparently the wasps at the site are African and had attacked someone at the pool in a swarm, covering their head. Our German neighbour and his wife had received stings trying to help. It sounded horrible and we were not upset to be moving on.