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April 28, 2017

Sardinia: Alghero

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, France, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 8:24 pm

Alghero’s waterfront

Before we arrived we expected Sardinia to be much like Corsica. It seemed intuitive that the two adjacent Mediterranean islands would be similar. And they are similar, sort of. But they are also surprisingly different.

Driving off of the ferry we noticed that Sardinia, at least to the north, is less rugged than Corsica. It also seemed to us that Sardinia is more densely populated and economically poorer than its island neighbor to the north.

A church in Alghero

Another noticeable difference was the traffic. There were more vehicles on the road in Sardinia, at least near our arrival port in Santa Teresa Gallura. Along with heavier traffic came a change in the driving style. Sardinians drive like Italians; Corsicans drive like the French, or at least they drive as the French drive in the south of France. Apparently country of origin influences drivers more than geographical proximity.

Soon after we started along the Sardinian roads we were debating the wisdom of declining the rental car company’s collision damage waiver. In the context of their liberal interpretation of the rules of the road, Italian drivers generally drive well. Or so it seems. It was never clear exactly which rules of the road they were following. From what we could tell, speed limits can be doubled and stop signs are advisory, even for school buses. (Yes, we did actually see a school bus run a stop sign.) Nevertheless, once one understands that the rules are different, Italian drivers are mostly harmless; the motorists in Sardinia are only marginally life threatening. We arrived in Alghero, our next destination, “entertained” and unscathed.

The sun sets to the west in Alghero.

Alghero has a Spanish feel.

Alghero is one of Sardinia’s most popular tourist destinations. Sitting on the island’s northwestern coast the commune of 44,000 people is blessed by cool sea breezes in the summer and temperate Mediterranean weather in the winter. For many the climate alone is a good enough reason to visit. Indeed, having escaped the wind, rain, and cold of November in Burgundy, Alghero’s blue skies and short sleeve weather was welcome.

The appeal of Alghero extends beyond its pleasant weather. The town has deep historical roots that include an extended period under the rule of the Crown of Aragon. Aragon’s political center was across the Mediterranean in Zaragoza Spain, a considerable distance from Alghero.

Gigi enjoys the Mediterranean sun.

Gigi continues her agility training.

Aragonese control began in the 14th Century. During their reign the “native” Sardinian population was sent away as slaves. Catalan speaking colonists from Aragon’s territories were brought in as replacements. Today the influence of this period remains. Though Sardinia is part of Italy and Italian is the primary language, 22% of the population of Alghero speaks the Algherese dialect of Catalan, the language spoken in northeastern Spain.

The rule of the Aragonese, and the Spanish Habsburgs who came after, gave modern Alghero a Spanish vibe. In the 16th Century Alghero was declared a bisphoric, which brought the influence and affluence of the Catholic Church. Alghero’s cultural and religious past produced a city that is architecturally and atmospherically distinctive from much of Sardinia.

There was plenty of motivation for us to stay longer. The weather was good. The town was interesting. And staying longer would let us delay our next dose of “entertainment” on the roads. But we would have to leave Alghero eventually. With the destinations ahead promising even better weather we continued to the south after two nights in Alghero.

 

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4 Comments »

  1. […] kilometers from Alghero Sardinia is Grotta di Nettuno, one of the region’s popular attractions. Neptune’s Grotto is a […]

    Pingback by Sardinia: Grotta di Nettuno | Another Header — April 29, 2017 @ 9:02 am

  2. […] that we’ve seen. So it was that we paused for a lunch and photo break in Bosa on our way from Alghero to Oristano. Lunch wasn’t very successful; every restaurant we tried was closed. On the other […]

    Pingback by Sardinia: Bosa | Another Header — April 29, 2017 @ 9:19 am

  3. […] via Sardinia: Alghero — Another Header […]

    Pingback by Site Title — April 30, 2017 @ 3:28 am

  4. The very north of sardinia (Santa T for example) is more similar to Corsica – gallurese dialect etc

    Comment by simonjkyte — May 17, 2017 @ 9:18 am


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