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If on a summer's day in Alghero a traveller...
True story of an imaginary tourist
It is dawn. I got up early this morning and now I am here, my feet sunk in the soft damp sand. In front of me is the sea, smooth and calm. In the distance, on the horizon, the imposing headland of Capo Caccia
, one of the symbols of Alghero.
My wife and children are still in bed, wrapped in the serene sleep of the holidays, and while Alghero
continues to doze, I set off on foot from the hotel, crossing the narrow streets of the old town centre, full of cobblestones and history, exchanging glances with the fisherman and watching the first boats slowly leave the port.
I walk along the seafront with its wide promenade, the Rambla
of Sardinia's "Little Barcelona", as far as the Lido
, the long, wide beach flanking the city.
I wanted a moment just for myself, to gather and store up inside me images and precious sensations from our holiday.
To do so slowly and calmly, in the silence of the first light of morning, a silence broken only by the calls of the seagulls skimming the surface of the sea, as I drew in deep lungfuls of air filled with the scent of sea and seaweed.
The unforgettable sunset in front of Foradada island
and the tender embrace of Sara, my wife, as we watch the flaming sun sink into the intense azure of the sea, the sparkling chambers of Neptune's Caves
, the timeless charm of the
Nuragic settlement of Palmavera
, imbued with history and mystery.
And then there is diving into the water at Capo Galera and Cala dell'Olandese, snorkelling at Cala Dragunara and Punto Giglio, a day trip on a sailing boat, exploring delightful little bays. And of course the many beaches spread along the coast, each more beautiful than the last. Laughing in the water with my children, having fun on the pedalo, but also the intense perfume of the Mediterranean vegetation
, a blend of rockrose and rosemary, myrtle and strawberry tree.
The flight of a griffon vulture and cormorants, the running of horses and wild boar, the cautious stepping of a fallow deer: living treasures of the Noah's Ark Nature Reserve
The busy life of the city and its port, the shopping streets alive with tourists, where you can hear Italian and English, Catalan and Swedish, German and Spanish, all mingled together: Europe is a living reality here in Alghero.
Places to eat and drink
This evening we are having dinner with Lucas and Christine, a friendly English couple.
We met them in the hotel while we were having a drink on the hotel patio, and quickly struck up a friendship between sips of chilled Vermentino
This evening they are going to tell us how they have been spending their evenings in the city: we are keen to hear details about Alghero's famous nightlife. They have already told us that before heading for La Siesta
, one of the most popular clubs in the region, they will be calling at Baraonda, famous for its exquisite fruit cocktails and a vast selection of wines by the glass: just one of the many bars in the old town centre and along the seafront that remain open late into the night.
Now the sun has come up and it's time to go back
just a few more moments on my own, between sand, sea and sky, before heading back towards the Angedras and my family. But the sea air and the walk have given me an appetite: I will allow myself an unscheduled stop at Ciro's
excellent bar/pasticceria, to try one of their freshly baked pastries.
Today we are going to spend the day on the enchanting Lazzaretto beach
. We actually went there a few days ago but we can't bear to leave without going back for one last swim.
We have arranged to meet our new English friends at the Caffè Latino at eight o'clock.
We will have an aperitif and enjoy the sunset and a marvellous view of the boats moored in the marina, and when the streetlights start to dispel the first shadows of twilight, a pleasant stroll along the Bastions will bring us to the Angedras Restaurant, where we have booked an outside table, on the terrace overlooking the sea.
First, though, we are going to stop at Milese
, opposite the port: we can't wait to taste their legendary focaccia, recommended to us by absolutely everyone. It will make a great basis for a picnic lunch by the sea!
And in the afternoon, allowing ourselves plenty of time, it's back to Alghero.
An intense programme of activities awaits us this evening.
I have promised the children that we will take them for a ride on the Catalan train
They love the idea of seeing the people in the streets from the carriage of a "train", while for Sara and me it will be an excellent chance to discover the secrets hidden in the streets, churches and palazzi of the Old Town, as we listen to the commentary of the guide.
A worthy setting in which to set the seal on a new friendship, drink a toast with a good bottle of wine, and say our goodbyes to Lucas and Christine, who are leaving tomorrow.
But after dinner there is a surprise in store for my wife. The children and I have come up with the perfect plan: with their help I will persuade Sara to follow me into the narrow streets of the Old Town, where the windows of the goldsmiths' workshops are filled with red coral from the sea bed off the Coral Riviera.
On some pretext or other I will lead her into one of these shops and invite her to take her pick from the many jewels set with precious coral: a ring or some earrings, or perhaps a pendant. It will be my gift to her to remind her that I love her and to set the seal on a wonderful holiday - of which we still have four more days to savour and live with all the intensity that only Alghero can offer.