A weekend in Olbia

With Windependent out of the water we are spending the week seeing a bit of Sardinia.  We are staying in Olbia until Monday when we will visit the boat yard to ensure the work is progressing as planned.  On Monday afternoon we will drive to Oristano, half way down the west coast of Sardinia, and stay there till Friday morning when we’ll drive back to Olbia and relaunch Windependent.

We began our exploration on Saturday driving to Arzachena, a town about 30km north of Olbia which is surrounded by a series of Bronze age ruins built by Sardinia’s indigenous Nuragic civilisation.

The ruins are referred to as ‘Nuraghe’ and the island has thousands of them, 6500 have been identified although many have been destroyed and the stones reused elsewhere.  The Nuraghe are massive dry-stone wall fortresses, fortified towns and simple towers built from 1700BC onwards, until the Nuragic culture seems to have died out in the 5th century AD.   Apparently this style of building is unique to Sardinia.    Alongside the Nuraghe are ‘Giant’s Tombs’ and temples but little is known about the Nuragic culture as they had no written language.

Tomba Moru

The first site we found was a small tomb close to the Visitor’s Centre. These tombs go by the general description of ‘Giant’s Tombs’ and are stone built corridor graves, originally built simply from massive stone slabs and covered with earth to make burial mounds.  They had large carved ‘stele’ at the entrance with a small ‘door way’ at the base, apparently a door to the underworld. On each side of the stele low walls mark out a semi-circular area used for funeral rites.

The most inaccessible site was the Malchittu temple.   It was a 2 km walk up into the hills which was pleasant enough until it started to rain just as we got to the temple.  Luckily there was little to see so we turned almost straight round and came back!

Tempietto Malchittu

We even had a guide on the way back down in the form of a small, rather wet, dog who took us the last kilometre from a farm on the temple path, back to the car park and then across the road to the Nuraghe Albucciu. This was a massively constructed tower with a couple of small rooms inside and a stairway up to the flat roof terrace. The terrace apparently supported wooden buildings and further defenses.

Nuraghe Albucciu

We had lunch in Arzachena hoping for the rain to stop, which it didn’t, and so set off for the other two sites with umbrellas at the ready.  We’d bought our tickets for €22 and weren’t going to waste them!

Nuraghi La Prisgiona

Next stop was the Nuraghe la Prisgiona.  The  biggest ruin was the Keep of a fortress built to defend a large village.  These towers were circular and the central room was conical in shape as each layer of stones slightly over hung the one below until there was just a small hole left at the top.  This central space was generally divided into up to three wooden floors accessible by ladders or stone stairs. The top of the tower was finished off with a flat terrace supporting more defenses. This tower had two smaller ones alongside it and a curtain wall enclosing some of the round stone houses.  Outside the fortress there are the remains of possibly 100 other circular stone walled huts which would have had  conical wooden and thatch roofs. Apparently these were ‘plastered’ internally in mud and they used cork bark for insulation.

Artist’s impression of Nuraghe la Prisgione
Tomba dei Giganti Coddu ‘Ecchjiu

The last site, close by Nuraghe la Prisgiona was another of the ‘Giant’s Tombs’.    The Tomba dei Giganti Coddu ‘Ecchjiu, was far grander and much more complete than the Tomba Moru and the massive carved stele covering the entrance was very impressive.  The graves are believed to have simply held the bodies of the deceased without any grave goods buried with them and they were likely just piled one on top of the other. The little ‘door to the underworld’ was only about 12 inches high.

Tomba dei Giganti Coddu ‘Ecchjiu from the rear.

Although these Nuraghe are really impressive there are more extensive sites in the centre of the island which we hope to visit from Oristano.

That evening, on our return from Arzachena, we met up with Derek and Claire from Red Rooster and a Dutch couple, Mark and Rosita,  for dinner at a bar known as Mario’s.  It is Mark’s ‘local’ and was a lively place once dinner was over and the wine began to flow! It was a very enjoyable evening and we plan to meet up with Claire and Del next Friday when we are back afloat.

Sunday was a very lazy day. We went for a walk around town in the afternoon and found the place vying with Mucugê in the “Quietest Town” league!

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