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.
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.
happy holidays from Oristano
Filed under Italy, Oristano
Goodbye Corsica. I must say I wasn’t all that sad to leave…I had to take a bus from Ajaccio to Bonifacio and for 2 of the 3 hours in transit I was clutching the seat trying desperately not to vomit. The road violently changed directions about every 100 meters as we careened up and down, back and forth, through the Corsican mountains, hugging tiny roads overlooking the ocean. The views were gorgeous, I know, but I barely noticed them in my condition.
I made it, shaken, but sickness-free to Bonifacio at last, and caught the last ferry to Santa Teresa di Gallura in Sardinia, only about 12 km away. Bonifacio is a beautiful city, right on the ocean with white cliffs, but I’ll have to come back to explore it another time. The ferry ride this time was more like I had expected, seats on the windy deck, violent rocking of the boat, and the smell of sheep from the cargo hold wafting up on deck. But it was only an hour’s ride, and with the sun-setting over the Mediterranean, a scenic one.
leaving Bonifacio, Corsica
It’s been amusing that all of the other tourists here seem to be European. After being one of zillions of American tourists in places like Paris, where they recognize an American accent and roll their eyes right away, it’s quite refreshing to be (seemingly) the only one. In Corsica, it’s the French (and the Germans, British, and Italians) who are walking around wearing sneakers and fanny packs and taking cheesy photos.
And so I make my first detour. My original plan had been to leave Corte and spend two nights in Ajaccio, the modern capital of Corsica. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the warnings in my guidebook to reserve rooms early very seriously, and discovered that I was only able to get a room in Ajaccio on Sunday, unless I wanted to spend over 200 euros for Saturday night…which I didn’t, so I found a guesthouse in a town that lies between Corte and Ajaccio on the train line (there are only 2 train lines on the whole island, so there aren’t a whole lot of transportation options for those without cars) and reserved it for Saturday night. And thus I ended up in Vizzavona. The town wasn’t in my guidebook and a brief search online brought up “a town in Corsica” (thanks a lot, Wikitravel), so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I called the hotel again to tell them what time I was arriving and asked for directions. They seemed confused and didn’t give me any. How about an address? There is no address, the guy laughed. It’s I Laricci (the name of the house). And as I got off the train, I realized why he was so amused. Two restaurants flanked the train station, and behind the station on a hill, I Laricci. And that’s the town of Vizzavona. So I get an unplanned break from sightseeing and research. I’m staying in a dorm style hostel room in a large guest complex, surrounded by mountains, and roses, and silence, except for the birds and the sounds of the old French hikers who are sharing the guest house washing their boots. This town is just off the trail of GR20, which is supposed to be sort of like the Corsican Appalachian trail (although much shorter than the US trail, it only takes 2 weeks to complete), and quite difficult, so basically the only other people in town are hoards of old retirees who have just come off the trail.
mountains--view from the backyard
The guesthouse is a lovely a relaxing place, a big red-shuttered building in the midst of the Vizzavona forest. Looking out from the dormitory (the cheaper bunk-style rooms behind the main inn, where I’m staying), I can see a mountain that still has some patches of snow, and several minute waterfalls from the melting snow. I took a short walk in the nearby woods during the afternoon of my stay, something easy enough for my footwear, which is only sandals, since I didn’t anticipate leaving the beaten path. A full three-course dinner was also included with the price of the bed, so I went to bed with a very full stomach after my relaxing day in the country.
guesthouse, I Laricci