Destination Sicily & Sardinia
During May & June 2007 my wife, Judith, and I had the ideal opportunity to explore
Our journey to
For many people the first mention of
As you leave the port there are signs for two campsites, both are good, but if you want to stay a few days, and recharge your batteries, then I would suggest Il Peloritano at Rodia. It is easy to find on the SS113 and is just 30kms (18 miles) from
Our onward journey was to take us on a clockwise trip around the Island and as we wanted to visit Mount Etna and hopefully
Mount Etna (3323m) is the island’s most prominent landmark and
Our continuing journey took us south, past the petrochemical industry that has taken over the coastline between
After a night’s rest we continued to Punta Braccetto, south of
Well having eaten the fish, and got out of the washing up, it seems an appropriate moment to mention Sicilian cuisine. Sicilians aren’t big on antipasta so you can concentrate on the prima plati and secondi plati. I particularly liked Pasta alla Norma with its rich combination of tomatoes, aubergine and salted ricotta which was named in tribute to the composer of Norma, Vincenzo Bellini. Another particular favourite was Pesce Spada alla Messinese, swordfish done in a way only the Sicilians could perfect; truly mouth-watering. I hope to find, during the next week, somewhere with coniglio all’agrodolce on the menu, sweet and sour rabbit in a sauce flavoured with garlic, olive oil, onions, bay leaves and rosemary. If that doesn’t entice you here then you could try one of excellent pizzas, the problem there is pizza at home will never be the same. Enough of food, the ice cream man will be here soon and I want to try the Granita a drink made of crushed ice and fruit juice or if you prefer with coffee and fresh whipped cream.
A very short diversion took us to the Mercedes Benz dealer in Modica, who had ordered a new motor for the air-con fan, this was fitted in 15 minutes and we were back on our way. We stayed the next night near
We rely on GPS navigation for planning our journeys and the computer said the shortest route for the remaining sites was first to travel north, across the middle of the island and then continue anticlockwise to finish at Trapani for the ferry to Sardinia which we had already booked a few days earlier. So we set off on that route and were glad we did because we saw so much of the central region and drove on good roads all the way across Our next stop was near Finale on the north coast were we stayed at Camping Rais Gerbi a truly excellent site and although it is cut almost in half by the coastal railway line it makes up for that which excellent pitches and facilities. The view we had for breakfast was truly magnificent.
A short way west along the autostrada is
With just two days left on this beautiful island we had 2 sites to visit before catching the weekly ferry from
Our journey to Sardinia, by ferry from
We docked at
The next day we headed towards San Antioco, a much smaller island in the far south west corner and quickly drove the 12kms on this island to Camping Tonnara located in the beautiful Cala Sapone bay. This is a delightful site with most pitches having views of the small bay and sandy beach to which the site has direct access. It has a restaurant selling excellent fish dishes between April and September, and its only downfall is that its “drinking” water is bought in by tanker and is not really what you would want to drink. So you have to rely on bottled water for drinking, the site supply is fine for cooking, washing and cleaning but you would be wise not to try to fill your tank here, in fact try to arrive with your tank full. This minor problem should not put you off what is an excellent campsite in an idyllic location.
Sardinia is about 270 miles long by about 90 miles wide and has had a similar lengthy history to Sicily, with the added factor that is was conquered by the Spanish and occupied for over 300 years before being ceded to the Austrians, so inevitably it is very different to Sicily. For many the nuraghe (stone tower) builders embodied the seeds of a nation, the integrity of which has long since been guarded by the shepherds of Barbagia. Astonishingly, millions of euros designated by the EU for Sardinian developments were withdrawn not - because of any shady dealing but because
Our journey took us from the south west to the south east, but not before we had visited Carbonia, a city built by Mussolini in 1938. It has retained its Fascist town planning and architectural conception but has long since lost its principal raison d’etre of being the capital of the Sardinian coal industry. The south east coast is the home of many campsites and we were to visit three along the Costa Rei before venturing north towards the Parco Nazionale del Golfo Gennargentu and Siniscola, where we would again cross the island to the west coast. Here we could continue a clockwise trip to Olbia in the north east, near where the Aga Khan and a group of his friends bought a 10km (6 mile) stretch of coast line to create Costa Smeralda.
On the Costa Rei the small campsite, Capo Ferrato, was particularly nice, it accepts camping cheques, and has good deals in the low season and it is close to the new SS125 and runs along an excellent beach. During June and September they run short courses entitled “Discovering Sardinia - Gastronomy and Culture” which sounded very interesting and great fun. Don’t forget to try the Mirto, a liqueur made from the leaves and berries of the myrtle plant. After a very wet Sunday; our drive on the Monday took us through the
Before we reached Siniscola we stopped to assess a couple of campsites near Arbatax, a busy ferry port, with regular connections to the mainland. But for me most importantly it is the terminus of the Trenino Verdi, a narrow gauge railway that goes south to
As you drive along the generally quiet roads you begin to notice a few things. In the past
In Budoni, a bustling seaside town north of Siniscola, we stayed at the Pedra E Cupa campsite which had good facilities and pitches and access to a beautiful quiet beach. The day after we headed south west to look at a somewhat unusual site, for the Alan Roger’s guides, an Agrituristica near to Nuoro. Recommended by a reader this very small site, only 9 pitches, is part of a large organic farm owned by Giovanni di Costa. I am sure Azienda Agrituristica Costiolu will find its way into the 2008 guides and will be visited by many looking for a quiet resting place high up in the
Our journey continued south west to Oristano and then we followed the coast north to Alghero via the interesting town of
After visiting Porto Torres, known to the Romans as Turris Libisonis, where I managed to get a haircut, we continued north east along the coast to Valledoria and Camping Le Foce where we spent a very pleasant weekend.
This excellent site offers kayaks to rent, bird-watching boat trips along the river and a shuttle boat service to a remote white sandy beach. The site accepts camping cheques right through to early July so offers excellent value for low season campers. At the site we enjoyed some typical Sardinian cuisine I had Malloreddus, gnocchi like dumplings served with fresh tomato sauce and minced sausage. And we could not resist the Sebadas, fritters stuffed with cheese and lemon peel, then fried and served with local honey. Judith had tried the Buccinis, a type of mollusc and the Arselle, clams, with Cozze, mussels, in Alghero and we had bought some Porceddu, roast suckling pig in a supermarket and that made an excellent lunch on the road one day.
We had also enjoyed the local red (Cannonau) and white (Vermentino) wine and bought some Mirto and Lemoncello to take home as a lasting memory of a magical stay in
On route to Camping Villaggio Isuledda, north of Gannigioni, we stopped to explore another Nuraghe. In fact there are over 7,000 of these distinctive truncated stone cones in
Isuledda is a great campsite, our pitch is on a small promontory, almost entirely surrounded by the turquoise sea, and as I sit and finish this article the dolphins are swimming across the gulf enjoying the warmth of the sun and the refreshing breeze. The site has excellent facilities and offers diving, windsurfing and sailing plus you can hire boats, cars, cycles and scooters.
Our return journey from Olbia to Civitavecchia, north of Rome, takes 5 hours on the Tirrenia vessel Nuraghe, departing at 12 noon, at a cost of 239€. From there our trip continues through