La Isola Bella
Sardegna e bellissima!
This is the resounding response from anyone I asked about this beautiful island off the southern coast of Italy. After finally visiting for myself, sono d'accordo!
Even the ferries that take you on an overnight journey across the waters of the Mediterranean from Italy reflect the spirit of living and eating well. The boat we took was well appointed and had plenty of cafes where excited travelers gather for an apertivo before the evenings meal.
After settling in for a night on the sea, we are awakened early by the sound of billowing horns and the sight of a beautiful sunrise. A cool breeze from the deep green ocean was ready to greet us as we stepped off the boat on to this amazing island.
The Island was created from volcanic ruins and its mountainous landscape paints a beautiful picture of its ancient ancestry. Ancient olive trees dot the landscape throughout the island.
The island seems bigger than most regions, if only because there is more open, untouched land than anywhere in Italy I have seen. It is not the green grassy hills like that of Tuscany, but more reminiscent of what we might imagine the land of Ancient Greece to have been.
Some of the finest and most fabulous beaches in the world are in Sardegna, though I didn't have that on my agenda for this trip. I vow to return when the weather is warmer and I can sun idle on the beach with no work in sight.
Pecora sheep graze among endless miles of green tufts of indigenous herbs and grassy knolls. There are actually more sheep than people living on the island. Sardegna is one of the few places in Italy where agriculture reins as a primary vocation for many of its inhabitants. Olive oil, wine, cheese, pasta, bread. What more do we need to make life a delicious affair at the table?
As we move towards the more mountainous areas, the capra goats stand on precipice overlooking the emerald green ocean. They don't bother to look up or hurry across the winding road as we intrude upon their lunch hour in our macchina.
At home in the orto garden, chickens run freely, chasing each other around the trees like school children at recess.
Citrus trees hang heavy with fresh lemons and oranges, a perfect accompaniment to fresh shucked oysters and marinated, sweet langostino shrimps and lobster, still salty and sweet from this mornings catch.
Carciofi artichoke fields go on for miles and miles, awaiting to be pulled from the earth and later made into perhaps a pasta dish with gnoccheti or tucked in a pan with succulent herbed and roasted lamb.
Traditional Sardinian sweets such as hot, sugar laden packages of cheese filled dough and marmellata crostata often finish the meal with a caffe and splash of homemade grappa.
I am only here for a few days, but I promise to return to this Mediterrean sea and land with more time to enjoy its riches. Buon appetito!
copyright 2008 Alisa Barry