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Where To Go in Sardinia?

We spent a week in Sardinia over 20 years ago and vowed to return.  Last time we attended a conference at a resort on the southern tip, Chia Laguna, and also drove to Bosa and up to Castelsardo on the north coast. This time we spent 2 weeks in Bosa on the west coast, and took day trips from there.

The Sardinian coastline on our drive from the ferry port at Santa Theresa de Galura to Bosa.

  
Approaching Bosa

  
Bosa is an ancient city founded in 1112 by the Malaspina. They built the Malaspina castle on a hill overlooking the Temo River or the Fiume Temo and the Mediterranean Sea. Ruins of a Roman bridge and a church dedicated in 1058 are also on the river.

   
Castle view from our apartment


 The River Temo and the old tannery buildings with fishing nets and boat.

   

Malaspina Castle ruins
  

Almond trees in the castle property  
 

Ancient tannery buildings  


Renovated Tannery buildings 

Bosa has a long history of tanning hides of animals to make the leather purses and coats we love. They did this for centuries till 1963. These are the buildings where the hides were processed and the river which provided the water. Today these buildings are turning into boutiques and cafes.

   

A Romanesque style church up the river founded in 1058.

 
Roman wall near the Romanesque church. 

   

  

 

Colorful coastline on our drive north to Alghero. Ancient Catalan-Argonese of northern Spain had  7000 watch towers all over and many  still stand. Theses towers were built close together along the coast so they could communicate with each other and warn the people of pirates and invaders. In the Middle Ages Sardinia was 4 kingdoms. The Pisans and Genoese battled for it in the 13th century. In 1479 Sardinia became a Spanish Territory. In 1720 the Italian Savoys took over. Sardinia became part of Italy in the 1861 Italian Unification.

   

 

Untouched close ups!

  
Sheep grazing along the mountainous coast of Bosa
   
Fishing boat on Bosa

Ancient watch towers are all over Sardinia.  They were spaced close together along the coast so they could communicate with each other. This one is in Bosa Marina, on the Mediterranean Sea.

  
Bosa Marina
   

   
  Bosa on the Fiume Temo

 
An old timer in Bosa with his double sided satchel and his walking stick. 

 
This special train ride was the green train or the Treno Verde which was a lovely ride through the Malvasía wine regions and a wine tasting along the way. The presenter was of the Columba family, first award winners for Malvasía.

  

Malvasía vineyards near Bosa  


 
Treno Verde friends from Poland and Milano in Torrenia, where the ride ended. Colorful murals cover the town walls. Similar murals are seen in other villages too.

   
  

More beautiful scenery on the road from Bosa north to Alghero.

   

Sheep grazing along the road to Alghero

   
  
Alghero is an hour drive and is a larger ancient city. 

   

We took a boat trip to Cappo Rossa…..  
   

And to Neptunes Grotto which is so large it took an hour to walk through!

   
We took a day trip to Silanus to see the Santo Sabina Tower Thelos which dates to 1800-500 BC. There are 7000 of these types of structures all over Sardinia today and there used to be more. They are generally called nuraghi of the nuraghi people. They probably came to the island from what we know as the Italian mainland. The towers were probabLy watch towers. We entered this tower and climbed to the top.

Santo Sabina Church is Byzantine style and used the basalt rocks from the top tiers of the nuraghi tower to build the church.

    

The surrounding pasteurland is lovely and the positioning of these 2 architectural time periods.

   
  

  

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There are miles of these stone walls in Sardinia and there is no mortar used to keep them together.

 
An ancient well dating to the nuraghi.

   

Also took a ride towards Macomer to the Tamuli where we saw these Tombs of the 3 Giants, burial sites in stone, also a nuraghi.

These are the 3 women of the 6 Menhir watching over the village and the tomb of the Giants. The Menhir always face east.

  

  

Here is part of the village outside of the Protonuraygphe, a nuraghi.

  
Rocky mountains overlooking pasteurland and sheep.

    

Murals like this are painted in Montresta, a village with strong Greek heritage near Bosa.

  
Mural of the Sardinian flag with the faces of two famous artists from the village, a poet and a singer.


Here’s some new renovation in Montresta where growth and tourism are developing.

  

  

Ancient farm structures

  
Church in Montrsta

   I will continue soon……..

What’s to Eat in Sardinia?

This sister island to Corsica is less dramatic, but more colorful. The shrubby plants are brightly colored with warm hues. While Corsica is French, Sardinia is Italian. They both dream of independence!

Sardinia raises sheep on their mountains while Corsica raises goats. So we find sheeps milk cheese in Sardinia. Sardinia was also under constant attack like Corsica, so the people also moved away from the coasts and ate the wild boar, but no fish. Today seafood is plentiful in the coastal towns, but not the mountain villages.

We spent 12 days in Bosa, a seaside city on the Temo River which flows into the sea. Here are some of the foods we tried in Bosa and nearby villages.

  
We picked up this panini at a roadside deli next to a gas station out in the middle of nowhere. The bread was fresh and crispy and the sandwich was filled with prosciutto and sliced mild cheese. Very fresh and flavorful! About 8 men of all ages were sitting there drinking beer in the afternoon. 

   
Bosa is famous for its “cru” wine of Malvasia. Cru means this wine can only be made in this region with the Malvasia grapes. It is a light amber color and on the sweet side. This was served as an aperitif on the house!


This is the ancient and still commanly used bread of Sardinia, carte de musica. This crisp and paper thin cracker like bread makes music when you break it!

  This is Trattoria Biancospino where we ate this delish lunch. It was one of the best meals of our trip! The buildings of Bosa date to the 14th and 15th centuries. Many remodeling designs expose the old stonework.

   

Now that we are in Italy, we see the primo and secondo courses. This is a primo of grilled eggplant topped with puréed eggplant and then strips of grilled mackerel and topped with a thin mozzarella cream sauce and fresh basil. Magnificent!

 
This primo is 1 large homemade ravioli filled with Gorgonzola and topped with sautéed artichoke, radicchio and mushrooms with a balsamic sauce.

  

  

This secondo is a piece of a whole grain carte de musica topped with braised calamari in a red wine sauce. To the side is a fresh salad of arugula, sliced fennel bulb and sliced orange topped with olive oil, salt and pepper! The juice from the orange adds to the marinade.

This secondo is a grilled beef steak with steamed Swiss chard.

   

Homemade walnut cake, cream sauce and sliced poached pears.

 
A perfect cappachino now that we are in Italy!  Zio Tore Cafe in Bosa, on the river.

  

The authentic pasta of Bosa, cagliaritani, dried and below, cooked with a frozen clam sauce added.

   

Our typical apartment meal: salad, cheese and bread with olive oil.

  
A mild cheese we found at this special market day in Bosa. The cheese is made in the nearby Village of Montresta.

 

Pastries of Bosa: almond macaroon, custard filled tart, almond with caramel roll and pastry filled with fig.

   
Thick focaccia topped with cherry tomato halves, a slight grating of hard cheese and dried oregano.

 

Delicious butter cookies with apricot filling and a crispy and moist almond macroon from a pastry shop only open 2 half days a week in Bosa.

   
Pillows of cracker like bread similar to carte de musica. 

 

Fried calamari, shrimp and a whole fish at San Ignasio in Bosa.

 
A sample platter of cold salads from a cafeteria in Alghero 

   
Rigatoni with pancetta, a smokey bacon.

 

Risotto with asparagus, lemon and pancetta from Mandiga Lestru in Macomer.

   
Sausage cut open and pork belly at Mandiga Lestru.  


 

 

  
Voltini, which is a thin slice of veal filled and rolled with meat and covered in a tomato meat sauce. All is on top of a piece of carte de musica

 Poached or boiled potatoes and sliced fennel.

   
 

A frig full of tiramisu ready for take out at Mandiga Lestru in Macomer.

   

 

Crispy rolls served with lemon flavored olive oil at Green River or Verde Fiume in Bosa. One of the best meals served in a cafe overlooking the river in Bosa. More of our dinner…..

   
A primo or first course: farro, which seems a lot like barley to me, with zucchini, onion, calamari, curry and parsley. So flavorful!

 

House made ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach with a butter parsley sauce and grated parmigiana cheese.

   
Oven baked shrimp, calamari and a whole fish with lemon and parsley.

 

A pie like pastry filled with pear and chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream.

   
Pizza that is folded after it is baked in squares and strips. One is filled with 4 cheeses and the other with mushroom, cheese and sausage. Giovanni’s Pizza in Bosa has a cool business model. His shop is take out only, but on both sides of him are bars with outdoor and indoor seating where you can order your drinks and eat his pizza! Evenings the crowds wait out the door for his pizza!

   

A very moist naval orange here and a fruit new to me. Nespole. The bottom pic show its seeds. Tastes like a citrusy apricot or nectarine. This fruit is blooming all over Sardinia and Sicily.

   
 

Fancy traditional breads on display in Bosa.

On to Sicily!

Where to go in Corsica?

  
We had the opportunity to experience Corsica  over 25 years ago when Dave gave a talk in southern Sardinia. We rented a car and drove north through Sardinia and took the 1 hour ferry to Corsica! It was an overwhelming experience we wanted to repeat. 

This spring we did, but we started in the north of Corsica in Bastia and traveled south. Our first stop was Occhiatana located in the north just south of Ill-Rousse. We stayed in a heavenly apartment overlooking Belgodère, the next town over, and the valley in between.

Then we moved down to Sartène for a few days and then to Bonafacio where we had a lucky 24 hours because the sea was too rough for the ferry to cross. Enjoy the views!

 
Leaving the port of Marseille France for Bastia, Corsica which is also France.

 
Bastia, a port in NE Corsica 

  

Occhiatana, a tiny town in the mountains of northern Corsica where we spent 10 days. 

 
  

Montemaggiore, a hill town overshadowed by the HUGE mountain, Montegrosso.

    
Pigna, a town of craftsmen and artists in a newly renovated chocolate box style.
 

Sant ‘Antonino is one of the oldest villages in Corsica 
 
The beach is 10 minutes from Occhiatana 

   

The Citadelle of Calvi, an ancient city which attracts tourists to their upscale style, historical sites, views, climate and beaches.

  

Port of Calvi

  

View of Calvi from Chappelle de Notre -Dame de la Serra

  
The Citadelle of Cortè from Le Belgodère. There is a good historical museum in the Citadelle. The students were demonstrating here, so we could not tour the museum or Citadel, but this view was marvelous!

    

The charming old town center of Cortè 

   
  

 

Speloncato, a town way up in the mountains near Occhiatana. This was an important Roman city. There are many WWI memorials in Corsica.

   
   

The Gulf of Gironalto on the drive south along the west coast. The coastal town of Porto is located in this gulf. We found this to be the most beautiful drive in our trip.

   
   Les Calanches is this rocky red area near Piana. A thrilling drive, though north of here at the Gulf of Gironalto area is more magnificent

  
The view in Piana from Les Roches Rouges Hotel where we stopped for lunch.

   
 

Sarténe is a mystical town in the hills of southern Corsica. It is known as the most Corsican of towns. We stayed at Les Roches Hotel where the views were endless.

   
  

   

We took a short drive from Sarténe to see some of the many ancient megaliths and dolmens. We met a band of goats there and luckily Dave befriended the herding dog who did not like us at first!

   
   

Artifacts from the archeological museum in Sarténe. The blue beads remind me of the Turkish evil eye glass which offers protection from evil spirits.

   
     

Bonifacio is a magnificent coastal town in southern Corsica. It’s a port for the ferries to Sardinia. We spent a night at this charming spot, Hotel Columba. The coast is immense and has many perspectives. The watch towers are ancient.

   
       

This coastline can be seen from many points. The cemetery offers a big picture view. The Port Gene perspective is up close and in your face!

   
  

As we take the car ferry on the short 1 hour trip to Sardinia, we say Au revoir to Corsica! 

What’s to Eat in Corsica?

  
Corsica is a beautiful French island south of Provence in the Mediterranean Sea. We took an overnight ferry/cruise ship there from Marseille. Magnificent mountains and hill towns envelope valleys, bands of goats, olive trees, cork trees, fragrant shrubby plants and vineyards. 

Historically the island indured constant invasions. It was governed by Pisa and Genoa and was finally given to France. Because of the invasions, the people moved to the interior of the island for refuge. Therefore they did not eat seafood! The traditional diet was and still is goats milk cheese, goat, wild boar, beef, pasta, olives, wine, bread and produce. Today there’s great seafood along the coastal towns!

  

 

Le Ranch in Occhiatana has wood fire pizza and roasted meats, typical Corse foods and home made desserts, plus a fantastic view!

 

Typical Corse lunch-goats milk cheese sprinkled with dried mountain thyme, cured wild boar and beef meats and fig jam.

  

Wood fire roasted veal chop covered with melted strong cheese 

   

Wood fire roasted lamb

 

Wood fire thin crust pizza

  

A liver sausage with figs 

 

Corse soup is a split pea like soup with beans and vegetables

   

Traditional wild boar stew with potatoes

 

Grilled beef steak with Roquefort cheese sauce. Much of this cheese is made from Corsican goats milk. The bacteria is added in Roquefort France.

   

Wild boar stew over pasta

  

Wild boar bacon, liver sausage, bread with melted goat cheese and a fried egg, a Corse lunch.

 

A crepe thin omelette with grated cheese and herbs

   

Spaghetti soaked in a rich seafood and meat sauce with gambas, a shrimp like shellfish

  

Calamari braised in a rich paprika sauce and the above spaghetti at L’Escale in Tizzano, on the sea

  

Wild boar in wine sauce with baked tomato 

Cigli or tiny lobsters with onions and baked tomato

  

Risotto with squid ink and lobster bites topped with gambas and a bubbly fish sauce 

  

A white fish over artichoke purée with a gamba and fish sauce 

  

A unique appetizer! Phyllo like rounds rolled around a piece of lobster, then fried and layered with lettuce and a saffron aoli dipping sauce

 

Voilà! Dining at Les Roches Rouges Hotel in Piana

  
U Castillè: A great eatery with a variety of venues in Bonifacio 

 
Sea view 

  
A pot full of mussels with lemon and white wine

 

St Pierre, a white fish with rice and a roasted red pepper sauce

Some fast foods from the patisseries  and delis

 

Sartenès specialty, pastry filled  with liver sausage 

  

Croque Monsieur, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with melted cheese and goat cheese rounds on top

  

A sandwich with prosciutto and sliced cheese on ciabatta 

  
The best pastisserie in Cortè 

  

Soft bread with melted cheese on top, like a mini cheese pizza

  

Ham and cheese melted on a pastry cut in squares

  

Dry cheesecake that is not very sweet

  

The 3 Stars is an award winning pastisserie in Belgedere 

   

Strawberry tart from Belgedere

 
Brioche with local fresh goat cheese

 

  

Semi frozen dessert with strawberry sauce from Bonifacio

  

Dry cheesecake with no crust from Le Ranch in Occhiatano  

 
These  clementines grow all over Corsica. They make jams out of them and also from lemons and limes and sell them at the markets and shops

Corsica is a dramatically beautiful and earthy land. It’s a favorite!

Village Hopping in Provence Part 2

Avignon is a small city and has traffic even off season. We drove in and parked in the Italiane lot and then took the shuttle bus to the town center. It’s worth the trip. It was the home of 6 popes. Really only 4 because 2 were “anti-popes” due to disagreements between France and Rome. 

Make sure to tour the popes palace with audio and go on the “bridge to Avignon”.

 We had a great lunch at Le Crillon located on Le Crillon Place

   
           

Rustrel is a tiny town we drove by on our way to Le Colorado Provençal hiking trails. Stunning and easy hiking

   
   

Buoux is in the mountains and is where an ancient castle ruin can be found. Treacherous climbing for me, but we were determined. Dramatic canyons too! Look for Fort Buoux. Not kid friendly

   
     

Lourmarin is the southern most town in the Luberon which is a sub region referring to wines.

My favorite lunch was here at Le Bistro de Lourmarin. Also has a castle you can visit.

   
     
Tavel winery tour through Viator was super!

Here is a wine region map

   
 

Chateauneuf-du-Pape, known as the winery of the Pope.

  

   

Vaison-la-Romaine has a mini Pompeii

   
 

Brantes has HUGE mountain views and is serene.

   
   We loved it all!

Village Hopping in Provence

During our 12 days in Provence we stayed at a farmhouse apartment just outside of L’Isle sur la Sorgue. We visited 18 towns and villages. Here are some pics

L’Isle sur la Sorgue is like an island on the Sorgue River because there are so many streams running around and through it. Many of the ancient waterwheels are spinning. It’s also known for its superb farm market or marche and its antique shops and weekly flea market. 

   
            

Market shopping 

 

Antique shopping

Velleran is next door and also has a popular daily food market. It has a superb artisan patisserie too

  
Fontaine de Vaucluse is close by and also has streams and waterwheels with cafes on the water.

   
       

Roussillon is the most colorful town because it mines ochre and uses its various colors to paint and plaster.

   
        

  
 

Menerbes is a small town in the hills and was made famous by Peter Mayles who wrote A Year in Provence.

   
     

Seguret is a quiet town near the Domaine de Cabasse winery where we stopped to sample!

   
     

We passed through the darling tiny town of Sablet which means sand, on to Gigondas , a lovely and popular town well known for its wineries. We sampled a few in the main square at Le Caveau au Gigondas.

   
   

Le Crestet is a tiny town up in the hills with great views!

   
       

Suzette is even smaller and way up in the hills near the Domaine de Coyeux winery with views of the Dentrilles de Montmirail.

   
   
   

More villages will be at Part 2

 

What’s to Eat in Provence?

  

The super sweet strawberries of Provence are in season in April.

  
I bought these at a road side stand, but the Marches or farm markets have them too

The Marches are in all the villages. There is a regular schedule and are well attended. The more popular have a waiting line to the entrance before they open

   
Love these long radishes

 

Many colors of these curvy tomatoes

 
Lots of varieties of lettuce

 

This fat asparagus was in season along with the thinner and even thinner varieties. The white asparagus needs to be peeled first and then simmered 30 minutes. Yummy!

  

This is delish cows milk cheese was one of hundreds sold in France.

   

 

Cured meats sold at the marches.

  

  
Dave enjoys foie gras. It is a controversial food because it is goose liver made by force feeding the geese using funnels. This makes the liver very large. It’s an old tradition.

   
Rotisserie chickens are popular at the marches. Get there early for the free range chickens. They are larger and much more tasty!

  

The smaller chickens are called blanc poulets or white chickens. They never see the light of day. The tiny birds are quail.

 

This is our 1/2 free range chicken we ate for 2 dinners

   
More prepared foods from the marches! Paella and Fish in Cream Sauce 

  

Fried chicken in a paella pan

 

Andalusian style seafood paella. All these foods are cooked right on the spot!

  
A trio of tapenades from the farm market: black olive, green olive and paprika with tomato.

   Grocery store delis have great salads. Here is a calamari with tomato, octopus with tiny onions, roasted red pepper and olives, and a roasted tomato and red pepper salad. The black oil – cured olives are flavored here with herbs of Provence.

 Quiche Lorraine has bacon. The other is spinach and goat cheese

  
What is better than a French chocolate croissant? A chocolate almond paste croissant or a chocolate raisin croissant!

   
Lunch in France is decadent! Here is the most tender smoked salmon, mussels with butter parsley sauce, tiny squid salad, brandada ( a cod mashed with potato and cream ), a diced raw tuna salad! Voila!

  
Dave loved this  grilled ground beef with thick bacon, fried egg and French fries.

  

Eggs and omelettes are classic French. This is a simple grated mild cheese and chopped ham.

 

Classic Nicoise Salad with tuna, eggs and olives

   
This was a first course. Chopped salmon salad with a slice of salmon on top. 

 Pork in a rich sauce with potatoes.

 

This was a dessert. Cheese with a beet purée!

   
My favorite lunch! Poached turbot with   a cream butter sauce and poached veggies.

  

A vegetarian platter of braised endive, a vegetable tart, phyllo wrapped around apple and radish leaf soup!

 

Moussaka without pasta and made with lamb and tomato.

   
Crepes are sweet and galettes are savory and made with buckwheat.  This one is tomato and goat cheese with ham.

  

Galette Provençal with chicken, eggplant, mushroom and red pepper.

 

Our farm house rental had a grill for us to grill beef kabobs and a huge calamari!

   
Raspberry tart 

  

A beautiful  light mousse filled with cake and topped with an exotic fruit and it’s petals called a ground cherry or husk tomato.

   

Looks like a Chinese lantern!

Love sharing our foodie adventures with you!

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