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The Nuraghi of Sardinia

Sardinia day three


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Su Nuraxi di Barumini

We had pre-booked a morning tour through Get Your Guide, so this wasn’t the best morning to wake up feeling a little rough after several bathroom visits during the night! However I was feeling well enough to go out thankfully, although I decided not to eat any breakfast even though the croissants at the Cafeteria Tiffany looked appetising (which Chris confirmed that they were!) However I enjoyed a peppermint tea there. And at least we could now say that we'd had breakfast at Tiffany's!

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Breakfast at Tiffany's!

We met our guide Dirk at the appointed place near the Largo Carlo Felice. He turned out to be German but resident in Cagliari for over 30 years. The tour was supposed to be a group one but we were the only customers that morning so it had the feel of a private one.

We drove out of the city stopping very briefly in the village of Villamar to photograph a couple of murals for which the village is well known. Our itinerary had promised a coffee stop there, but Dirk drove on, saying that we would return later. We didn’t, but that was the only disappointment in an otherwise fascinating and lovely morning.

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Murals and a sculpture in Villamar

Su Nuraxi di Barumini

The main purpose of the tour was to visit Su Nuraxi di Barumini, one of the best preserved of the thousands of such sites dotted around the island.

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Su Nuraxi di Barumini

The site is UNESCO listed, and their website explains the huge significance of these Bronze Age structures:

Megalithic defensive structures known as nuraghi date from the Middle to Late Bronze Age (c. 1600-1200 BCE), and are unique to Sardinia. Nuraghi are characterised by circular defensive towers in the form of truncated cones built of dressed stone with corbel-vaulted internal chambers. Nuraghi are considered to have initially been built by single families or clans. As Sardinian society evolved in a more complex and hierarchical fashion, there was a tendency for the isolated towers to attract additional structures, for social and defensive reasons.

The Su Nuraxi nuraghe consisted of a massive central tower of three chambers connected by a spiral staircase, originally over 18.5 metres high. The uppermost chamber is no longer standing. The central tower was enclosed within a quadrilobate structure consisting of four subsidiary towers linked by a massive stone curtain wall. The courtyard created by this wall was later sealed with a roof thereby restricting access to the central tower. Surrounding this are the remains of second outer wall and a settlement of circular huts.

Source: UNESCO

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Looking up from inside the central tower

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And from inside a smaller tower, showing the mortarless construction
(a bit like an igloo, with the last piece of stone holding all together)

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Dirk took this photo of us inside the main tower

Dirk gave us a thorough tour which involved climbing some steep stone steps and squeezing through narrow passages – sometimes both at once! I was pleased I managed everything!

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Squeezing through passages

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The view from the top

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Two views looking down at the complex of structures surrounding the tower

After our tour we had coffee in the bar opposite then drove through the surrounding countryside. Despite the fact that we'd told Dirk we weren’t interested in shopping for wine, he did stop at one vineyard – so that he could buy some!

Nuraghe Piscu

There were murals in most of the villages we drove through, and Dirk stopped for some photos but only from the car.

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Village murals (the last one taken by Chris as I was on the wrong side of the car

I was slightly disappointed, but it turned out Dirk had another great example of a nuraghe to show us. The Nuraghe Piscu is a much less extensive site and consequently free to visit. The tower sits in a field of glorious wild flowers, with dark red clover dominating. It made for some great photo ops especially as by now the early clouds had mostly dispersed and we had it to ourselves for most of our time here.

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Nuraghe Piscu

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Looking up from inside the tower

From here we headed back to Cagliari with no more stops. I'd like to have seen more of the murals (we'd chosen this tour in preference to another cheaper one because it included Villamar as well as Barumini) but on balance we felt we’d had a great morning and got our money's worth. Dirk was also helpful in recommending some restaurants and advising on some sightseeing ideas.

Have said our goodbyes we crossed the road to the Kremet Gelateria where today I chose chocolate alongside another helping of the pistachio I’d loved yesterday.

Botanical Gardens

Then we went back across to see a bit more of Stampace. We had in mind a visit to the Roman amphitheatre but got distracted by the botanical garden on the way. We decided to explore, paid our 4 euros each, and found plenty inside to while away an hour.

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In the Botanic gardens

In addition to all the plants there was a small Roman quarry and an interesting Roman water cistern to explore.

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Roman cistern in the Botanic gardens

We had almost finished when the woman who'd sold us our tickets came towards us on the path to tell us she was closing as the strong winds made it dangerous. We hadn’t noticed any particular strengthening nor did we for the rest of the afternoon. Yes, it was windy, but so it had been throughout our stay. We speculated that perhaps she just wanted to get away early but as we'd seen almost everything it wasn’t a problem.

Abandoning the idea of the amphitheatre as time was getting on we instead descended to the street where we’d had an afternoon drink yesterday and returned to the same bar for refreshments. We then went back to the apartment for a break and to freshen up.

In the evening we had aperitivi in Moonshine, a bar in a small square next to Impasto. It has a cool atmosphere and was a chance to drink inside out of the chilly wind.

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In Moonshine bar

We had dinner in Impasto again. The wine was excellent (my Vermentino was from the vineyard we had visited earlier with Dirk) and the food good (I especially enjoyed my stuffed calamari) but the service slow and we were sat near the door that was constantly opening and shutting (or sometimes not shutting), letting a draught. Nevertheless we had a pretty good evening.

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Stuffed calamari, Impasto

Walking back to the apartment we had to almost battle to get through the crowds of young people apparently spending their Saturday evening just standing around on the street talking and socialising.

Posted by ToonSarah 15:06 Archived in Italy Tagged food flowers history ruins italy garden street_art archaeology sardinia romans bronze_age Comments (1)

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