Tag Archives: bed and breakfast

The Long and Winding Road


old tower at the end of the Sinis peninsula

After exploring Alghero a bit the next morning, we took the winding road that snakes along the cliffs on the west coast of the island.  While my aunt Pat watched out for the insane Italian drivers and cows on the side of the road (more on animals in the road to come), I got to hang out the window and take pictures of the moutains and blue waters down below.  Aside from the incredible views, the best part of the drive was getting to experience the eccentric little towns that we passed through along the way–the vineyards and olive groves, colorful houses, and tiny churches.  During one quick stop, an adorable lost dog hopped into our car and tried to hitch a ride while we were distracted taking pictures. 

puppy trying to make his escape

adorable hitchhiker

We took an additional detour on the way to Oristano, our eventual destination for the night, to the Sinis Peninsula, home to endless crop fields, tucked-away agriturismi, miniscule towns, and the ancient ruins of Tharros.  When we finally arrived to the provincial capital of Oristano, we were well taken care of by Maria, a bed and breakfast owner and Sardinian native who talked to me at length about her native dialect over breakfast on her rooftop terrace the next morning.  Oristano, while seemingly more urban than Alghero, still had a lovely downtown area, where we enjoyed shopping at the holiday night market, and the extremely friendly owner of a jewelry kiosk who unexpectedly taught me a lot about Sardinian cultural symbols.

Buone feste!

happy holidays from Oristano


Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Oristano


Nuoro was an unexpectedly fascinating stop. After the blue waters and white sand beaches of Santa Teresa teased me in the morning, I wasn’t all that excited to be heading back inland, and as we pulled into the town on the bus, it looked much more modern–with high rise apartments–than the some of the other charming and crumbly island towns. I had heard that there wasn’t much in the way of budget accomodations in the city, so I had made reservations at another B&B. The owner, Mario, came to pick me up from the bus station, and take me to the house, located outside of Nuoro, in the township of Monte Ortobene, which overlooks the city from the mountains.
Mario was instantly helpful, talking me to about Sardinia on the ride up the mountain, as soon as he heard about my research project. His two dogs greeted us as we pulled into the driveway and I discovered that I was the only visitor, so I had the whole guesthouse, a separate building attached to his house, by myself. From the terrace attached to me room I could see the whole valley, and in the distance, the sea.

looking down from Monte Ortobene

looking down from Monte Ortobene

I hadn’t been settled in long when Mario returned to tell me that his girlfriend and her mother had arrived and that they were all going to take a ride to see some “interesting houses” on the mountain if I wanted to join. I guess there are benefits to being the only guest.  I soon discovered that the two women were actually French, from Paris, and had grown up in the 15th arrondissement/rue Cambronne area, which is exactly where I’m going to be living this summer. As they said, “C’est un petit monde.”

goat cheese farm in a cave

goat cheese farm in a cave

The first place Mario took us was a little further up Monte Ortobene, and was a small goat cheese farm. What made it remarkable was that it was based out of a rock. A cave had been carved, over the course of thousands of years, into the giant toadstool-shaped rock on the mountain, and a local family had decided to set up their small farm around it. The rock was now outfitted with a little door, and inside was a simple fridge, table, and some beds, along with racks of cooling cheese. I felt a little bit like I was in The Hobbit as I ducked the rocky ceiling to step inside the small abode. Around back there were the goats, who roamed free on the mountains by day and returned at night to sleep and be milked. A small pony ran to the fence to say hi as we walked by. As we tasted the local red wine (apparently many families here have their own tiny vineyards so they can make their own table wine) Mario talked to the men who ran the farm in Sard, the local language, a non-romance language, that is not related to Italian. As we were leaving, Mario explained that since the farm is based around a rock, it doesn’t really exist in the eyes of the local government, so the family doesn’t really own it, or have to pay any taxes.

Not much further up the hill, we stopped at an agriturismo, another family farm that hosts gatherings, food tastings, and campers at times, and were greeted by a 900-year-old tree (or so the plaque said). The owner took us into his “rock kitchen,” where ancient looking hams were aging and dusty bottles of wine lined the walls. Here we got to try to the local white, sweet wine and as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I could see the many traditional Sardinian carnevale masks that were hanging on the walls.

Nuoro is reputed to be the “cultural capital” of Sardinia, and it certainly seems to be true. The next day I went to an archeological museum and an ethnographic museum (where I saw many more carnevale masks), and as he said goodbye Mario encouraged me to return, saying that he could help me find more contacts to explore the island, which he described as “a little continent,” in the future.


1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Nuoro

Ajaccio: chez Napoleon

Ajaccio, my final stop in Corsica, was a big change from my calm night in the country.  It’s Corsica’s capital and biggest city, and with a port and white sand beaches, it feels a lot more like a typical resort town than the other places I’ve been so far.  Still, I managed to find the most charming place to stay: Pensione de la famille Morelli.  Tina Morelli has been running a small B&B from her home since 1960, and welcomed me herself at the door when I arrived on Sunday afternoon.  And it was the best place to cure the lonliness of traveling solo: I stayed in the living room-turned guest room that was filled with photo albums and trinkets, and got to have a family style dinner with the other guests at night. 

Sanguinary Islands

Sanguinary Islands

And though I was staying only one day in Ajaccio, there was lots to do!  I took another petit train to the nearby Sanguinary Islands, where there is an old lookout tower, and of course visited the birthplace of Ajaccio’s most famous son–Napoleon Bonaparte…whose statues and namesake are scattered throughout the city.  A lock of his hair is even preserved in a pendant at the house.

Napoleon overlooking his hometown

Napoleon overlooking his hometown

My first night happened to be the fete de la musique in Ajaccio and there were all sorts of musical groups performing in the streets after dark, from a gospel choir, to African drummers, to rock bands and Spanish guitarists playing the Beatles.  The next morning I had an important tour/interview at the privately-owned Corsican history museum in town and then was onmy way out of town to Bonifacio, the white-cliffed town on the southern tip of the island where ferries connect Corsica to Sardinia.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ajaccio, France