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Small Towns in Central Sardinia
Marta Raaka (msMartie)
After reading a great trip report by slow traveler, Marian McCain, Sardinia in September (#2027), we decided to spend a night in the small town of Laconi, which is located in the center of Sardinia, and an easy day trip from Alghero, on the west coast of Sardinia. You can get there by bus (AST) but we had a car, which allowed us to explore an excellent UNESCO site nearby.
Laconi is a small, sleepy town with a large city park called Aymerich Park. This beautifully maintained city park has some medieval castle ruins, several waterfalls and lots of pleasant walking trails. Since we enjoy walking and hiking, we thought this would be a good town for an overnight stop. Once we saw the different choices of hikes available, we wished we had stayed longer.
For our visit, we walked around the old town center and explored the narrow lanes to find the home of St. Ignatius of Laconi, an important saint of the island. We also found the old church and its piazza and a small museum of Menhirs housed in the beautiful Palazzo Aymerich, which is in great condition. We also found some tasty cookies at the local patisserie.
In the morning, we took a long walk in the Aymerich Park, just a few blocks from the old town center. It opens at 8am and closes promptly at 5pm (during April). There were several people working in the park the morning we were there, and the trails were very well maintained. There was also plenty of good signage to direct you to the famous old Cedar of Lebanon Tree, the castle ruins or the waterfalls. From this park, there are several hikes that lead further up into the hills to the state park nearby. We were sorry that we didn't have time to try them.
The Medieval Castle in Aymerich Park
We chose the same hotel mentioned in the Slow Travel report, Albergo Sardegna, which is on the main road into town. The owner, Rita, speaks English well and was very helpful. The hotel was immaculate and very comfortable, with a restaurant on site. We had our dinner there and enjoyed the fresh, local cuisine of Sardinia. The typical dessert, Seadas, (like a fritter, with honey) were the best we tried. Rita made them fresh that day.
We also appreciated Rita's suggestion to visit Su Naraxi di Baramuni, one of the largest Nuraghe archeological sites in Sardinia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It took about thirty minutes by car to reach Baramuni from Laconi. The actual location of the park is about one kilometer west of the town. This is one of the few Nuraghe sites that offers guided tours in several languages. In fact, you must go in a group with a guide. Since it was April, we didn't make an appointment, but during the more popular months of the summer, it might be good to call ahead.
Su Naraxi Baramuni archeological site
It was great to get more background on these mysterious ruins and learn about the early people who first settled in Sardinia. When you travel the countryside of Sardinia, you often see signs for the many Nuraghes, which are the cone-shaped, stone buildings found only in Sardinia. These ancient buildings, built between 1900-730 BC, are seen all over the island. The experts aren't sure of their function. They could have been ancient temples, everyday dwellings, fortresses or meeting halls. Although they appear to be crudely built, the architecture was very advanced for its time.
This particular Nuraghe site contains the ruins of an actual village, so there were several different structures to explore. We could see the amazing masonry work and we were able to go inside several structures. The views of the surrounding countryside were beautiful this time of year.
There is also a small museum (Museo a Casa Zapata) in the little town of Baramuni where they discovered more ruins under an old palazzo. This small, but interesting museum is included in your ticket for the Nuraghe. The city did a great job of preserving the ruins underneath, and created a practical way to view them as you walk around the palazzo. The young guides at the museum were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, too.
In both of the small towns we visited, we were impressed with the hospitality of the locals. Although I speak some Italian, we found many people who were eager to speak English, too. If you take the time to ask a few questions, you may end up having a long conversation. Next time around, we hope to spend more time in central Sardinia, to enjoy the relaxed pace, the friendly people and the wide variety of natural parks and archeological sites you find all over this attractive island.
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