Friday, June 17, 2016

The End

The last few days of this trip have been a whirlwind. Between a technical visit, an archaeological site visit, a minicruise along the coast, and fitting in one last stop at each of our favorite places, there's barely been any time to rest.

Wednesday was the last of our technical visits to a Waste to Energy facility.

One of the steps of the incineration is shredding the solid waste. This site uses a giant claw to lift the waste into the shredder.

The plant has two turbines that produce energy. The 4 megawatt turbine powers the plant's composting system, wastewater treatment system, and incinerator. The 11 megawatt turbine's energy is sold to the grid.

After our visit, we went to Nora and had lunch on the beach before touring the ancient Carthaginian town. The town was beautiful and overall, still very intact. We could even see some of the murals from the floors of the bathhouses.

Many walls were still standing, too, as was the amphitheater.

Thursday morning was spent prepping for the afternoon's project presentations. Friday was much, much more relaxing. We set off early to head to Villasimius, a town known for its beaches. We boarded a large sailboat, and headed off for a day of sailing, swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get too many photos, but here are a few!

The sailing trip was the perfect end to an unbelievable five weeks in Sardinia. While none of know when we'll be back, we all know this is not the last time we'll be on this island.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Santa Caterina and the Red Giant

After a mostly free weekend, we all gathered on the bus on Sunday evening to finally see a nuraghe and to go to a traditional festival in Orroli, a town nearby.

A nuraghe is a large conical tower that was built in the Bronze and Iron ages on the island of Sardinia. Over 7,000 nuraghi have been found on the island, but archaeologists believe there were likely more than 10,000. We went to visit Nuraghe Arrubiu, also called the "Red Giant" due to the red basalt used in the structure and the red lichen that grows on it.


This particular nuraghe is one of the largest discovered, including 5 towers and a large wall around the outside. It is believed that the center tower was the largest, reaching a height of 30 m. The purpose of nuraghi is still not entirely clear; some believe they were used as communal space, others believe that it was used as defense. However, it is known that every one of the thousands of nuraghe in Sardinia were in sight of at least one other, creating a large communication network between communities.

After a tour of the nuraghe, we went to the Festa di Santa Caterina, a local festival celebrating Saint Catherine. Small towns from around Orroli sent groups dressed in elaborate traditional dress to parade ahead of the statue, which was carried from one church to another for prayer.



Following the parade, we explored the town, had dinner, bought all sorts of sweets, danced, and searched for handmade souvenirs to bring home

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Bluest Water We've Ever Seen

Thursday morning got off to a very interesting start. About 10 of us decided to make the trek to the top of the mountain for sunrise, which meant leaving the hotel at 4 am. We walked outside, down the path, and noticed flames in the brush. After running many times between the bathroom and the fire with bottles of water and frantic attempts to explain to the man at reception what was happening, we managed to put out the fire and went on our merry way. The sunrise, by all accounts, was breathtaking.

After returning to the hotel, showering, and eating breakfast, we got on the bus for a day of cruising, swimming, and exploring caves.

Our first stop was the Caves of Bue Marino. Bue Marino is the Sardinian name for monk seals, which used to live inside the caves. Photos are not allowed inside the caves, but trust me: if you're ever in Sardinia, this is definitely worth a visit. It was stunning.

After the tour of the caves, we continued on to a couple different beaches. The coast and the water were so beautiful, and the beaches were great for swimming. We even spotted a few dolphins along the way!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Masks, Shepherds, and Bandits

Wednesday was our final overnight excursion of the dialogue. Unlike the other two, which included naps on the beach and more seafood than I thought possible, this trip was up into the mountains. Our first stop was in Mamoiada, where we went to the Museo delle Maschere Mediterranee, or the Mediterranean Mask Museum.

Masks and costumes play a major role in many traditional ceremonies in Sardinia. While the exact purpose of many of the masks in Mamoiada's Carnival festival are unknown, it is likely connected to the harvest and symbolic of life and death. Once a year, there is a large parade, in which men dress up as animals, carrying up to 30 kg of bells, and dance through the streets. Nearby towns have similar traditions, as shown the photos below.

Bells worn by men in traditional costume
The merdule and the boe are Carnival figures in the town of Ottana
After learning about masks in the local towns, we learned about some of the masks and costumes of other cultures in the Medditeranean, like the boitero in Spain and the Krampus from another part of Italy.

After finishing our museum tour, we set off for lunch with shepherds in Orgosolo. We were served very traditional foods, such as salami, cured goat meat, local bread, sheep milk cheese, suckling pig, delicious red wine, and ended it all with grappa.

After the meal, the shepherds performed traditional songs from the Barbagia region of Sardinia. The style of music is sometimes called su cantu a tenore and is similar to throat singing.

In this style of singing, four men stand in a circle with their arms on each others shoulders. There is one man who is the main singer, reciting poetic texts, and the other three singers, according to tradition, represent the sound of the wind, bleating sheep, and lowing of cows.

After the performance, we learned a few traditional dances, and headed to a mural town for an afternoon walk. The town was covered in murals, including one that struck a chord with many of us.

This mural was finished on September 28, 2001, just 17 days after the attacks on the Twin Towers.

We explored the town for about an hour, stopping to appreciate the beautiful paintings, and making a few friends along the way.

The next stop was our hotel. Many of us were planning on hiking the mountain in the morning for sunrise, so a few of us dropped our bags, changed, and immediately headed our on an exploratory hike to see what would be in store for us at 4 am. An hour of steep hills, far too many switchbacks, and rocky goat paths later, the views did not disappoint.

We made it back down the mountain just in time for a spectacular sunset and a big dinner.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hiking the Devil's Saddle

After class on Monday, we all went for a hike at the Devil's Saddle, which is right between Cagliari and Poetto beach.

According to legend, the devil was so fascinated by the beauty of the Gulf of Cagliari that he tried to seize it. God sent angels down to banish Lucifer and his followers, and a battle broke out in the skies above the city.  There are two stories for what happened next. The first is that while trying to escape the battle, Lucifer was thrown from his horse and lost the seat. The seat fell into the water and immediately turned to stone. The second is that during the battle, Lucifer fell onto the rock, giving it its shape and its name.

At the top of the Devil's Saddle, about 135 m above sea level, are several old buildings. It was the a Punic temple, but it is no longer visible. There is also a Roman cistern and a defense tower believed to be built during the 16th century.

The hike gave us some incredible views of Poetto, and was a great way to get a new look at our go-to weekend spot.