From France to Italy: Alghero

From France to Italy: Alghero

Saturday 6th to Sunday 7th July 2019

Although we could hear the Friday night revelling from our hotel room, it was not as loud as we had feared when the receptionist warned us and happily neither of us had recourse to the earplugs which had been provided.

As we walked back along the marina to catch the ferry to Sardinia, staff on the more luxurious yachts were polishing the chrome and hosing down the decks whilst chefs were negotiating with local suppliers for fresh produce to be delivered. 

Unlikely as it is, if we ever have that sort of money we have promised ourselves we will return to Bonifacio on a luxury yacht. 

Regular ferries run between Bonifacio to Santa Teresa di Gallura on the northern tip of Sardinia and take about an hour.

From here we were scheduled to catch a bus to Sassari and then a narrow gauge train to Alghero.

Having taken the indirect route up to the bus station, a bus to Sassari was pulling out just as we arrived. The very accommodating driver allowed himself to be flagged down and accosted in pigeon Italian [unspoken ‘O’ level Latin] and agreed to let us put our luggage in the hold and get on board, saving us over an hour’s wait. He then asked us in fairly fluent English to sit down and let him drive. Later in the journey, he stopped by a corner shop so we could buy tickets at a reduced rate rather than paying the “on board” price.

At Sassari Station, a sign directed us to the end of Platform 1 for further information about trains to Alghero. Here we received the sad news that there were no narrow gauge trains running and the service had been replaced by a substitute bus.

Non railway buffs – please ignore: in the photograph above you can see dual gauge track, complicated by also being a point.

The bus was not the journey that Robert had planned but it arrived as scheduled and took us from Sassari Railway Station . . .

. . . to Alghero where we walked along the front . . .

. . . towards the old town and our hotel.

Alghero seemed very quiet when we arrived with relatively few people in the picturesque narrow streets of the old town . . .

. . . where you can see the impressive doorways of old palazzos and archways across the streets.

The receptionist at our hotel recommended a couple of restaurants and when we went in search of one we realised that the locals must observe siesta time as the streets were now thronging. Alghero is in fact known for its Spanish influence and street signs are often in Catalan as well as Italian.

There was almost a farcical moment when neither of us recognised the dishes we had ordered – see the Dish of the day for our choices – and were on the point of sending them back.

The following morning, Sunday, we visited the church of San Michele, which has an unusual and striking dome with geometric tiles as well as a white staircase leading up the outside of the dome.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria in Piazza Duomo is very impressive. We passed several times as we were walking around and on one occasion when we passed locals were applauding the arrival of a bride and her retinue of bridesmaids in rich blue dresses.

Unfortunately as we were here at the week-end, we mistimed our visits to Sant’ Erasmo church such that they coincided with services and we did not manage to see the interior.

The streets here are strung with lights suspended in 400 open birdcages surrounded by hydrangeas and birds in flight.

Paraphrasing the sign explaining this art installation “birds herald a new day and the coming of spring and are a symbol of renewal while the open cages represent freedom”.

The marina is busy but seems less affluent than its equivalent in Bonifacio.

We chose to walk the bastions past the various towers . . .

. . . to enjoy the views across the marina . . .

. . . and along the battlements where. . .

. . . old canons and trebuchets are on display.

Route Map:

Selfie of the day:

Dish of the day:

On the left is Matilda’s – home made pasta with scampi, lime and pistachio pesto – while on the right Robert had Algherese squid, hidden within a sliced onion salad.

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