Imagine a beautiful September day with an accomplice sun, that warms up the soul. We are in the north-west coast of Sardinia to visit Alghero, also known as Barceloneta.
Oh yes, because this charming town, overlooking a cobalt blue sea, has lived a very special and unique story compared to the whole island.
After a brief and profitable cohabitation with the Genoese, who had fortified it, the city passed into the hands of the Catalans who, after a grueling battle, settled down in the city for the next 4 centuries, turning Alghero into an impregnable stronghold.
At that time the old Genoese walls were fortified, the city was enriched with new buildings and churches and it began to breathe completely Catalan atmosphere.
Our guided tour will start from the marina, entering as it once was the Porta a Mare, one of the only two accesses to the city, together with Porta a Terra.
Once inside the city walls, you will immediately breathe the typical Catalan atmosphere of 1500. Every building and every street will tell you about the ancient past of one of the most touristic cities of the island.
Step by step you will realize how the liveliness of the center and all modern activities, suite beautifully to the Catalan Gothic architectural style inherited from its past.
Walking also among the typical streets of the old town, you will always be clearer the ancient system of the medieval city. First stop will be the visit of the majestic Cathedral of Santa Maria.
Built in almost two centuries, it presents a mixture of architectural styles that make it unique and that let you wonder step by step.
The façade that opens onto Piazza Duomo does not seem to belong to the same building, that can be admired from the opposite side. In fact, on Piazza Duomo you can admire a façade decorated with 4 impressive Doric columns, while on the other side you will admire the apse and bell tower built in nude sandstone and embellished with floral decorations, typical elements of the local Catalan Gothic style.
Leaving the cathedral you will first reach the ancient bishop's palace and then Piazza Teatro, from where you can enjoy a unique view: a modern theater, whose façade does not want to be out of place with the pride of the bell tower of the Duomo. Leaving these quiet and peaceful corners, you will dive into the most lively street of the historic center, which will lead you to the Church of San Francesco and its cloister still inhabited by Franciscan monks. The church is a triumph of typical details of the time and today a place full of sacredness to be visited with respectful silence and according to the rules of the Franciscans.
Continuing along the main street you will find various coral boutiques, fashion stores, restaurants and ice cream parlours arriving at a square that, with its impressive Torre Sulis overlooks the sea. From narrow, cobbled streets and alleyways you will let yourself be inebriated by a warm and luminous sun and you will breathe deeply the salty Mediterranean air.
From here you can see the highest cliff of Capo Caccia, from where you also get to the renowned Neptune Caves, also seeing perfectly its impressive military lighthouse. Looking back towards the historic center you will notice the colorful dome of San Michele, a baroque church run by the Jesuits since 1600.
After the visit you can get lost in the streets of the historic center for your relaxing break ... Maybe following some of my advice ;-)
If you are curious about the coral, the red gold of Alghero, and you want to deepen your knowledge, do not miss the visit of the nearby Museum of the coral where you will discover the secrets of the coral cutters and of their ancient profession. If you are fascinated by archeology, it is worth visiting the Archaeological Museum a few steps further the church of San Michele. It is small but very well structured and full of curiosity. On the other hand, if you feel a certain languor, take advantage of a wine tasting and local products in one of the many wine bars in the center.
After a well-deserved lunch break we meet again to discover the other side of the coast: the Porto Conte Natural Park about 15 Km from the center of Alghero. Already along the scenic road, you will notice a curious type of palm: the typical dwarf palm of Alghero. You will take the road along the most famous beaches of the area: Maria Pia, Lazzaretto, Bombarde, Pinetta Mugoni, and others, each with its own soul and its unobtainable feature on the next nearby beach.
Along this road you will encounter the ruins of one of the most well-known Nuraghes of the Alghero area, the Nuraghe Palmavera. A well-preserved example of one of the approximately 8,000 Sardinian Nuraghi, in which the central tower still stands, around which there are the ruins of the ancient huts of the nuragic village about 3000 years old (Bronze Age, XIV century BC).
Continue along the scenic road to reach a breathtaking view near white limestone cliffs and over 100 meters high. From here you will admire the Isola Foradada which in ancient Catalan means the pierced island … In fact, this island has an inlet in its interior, which is the result of the continuous breaking of the waves of the sea along one of its sides. At any time of the day and in any weather conditions this view will let you speechless and with a great sense of wonder and impotence in front of this landscape, that only nature can give us.
A couple of kilometers further awaits you another wonder of nature: the Caves of Neptune, a mix of stalactites and stalagmites that are at least 10 million years old, created thanks to the painstaking work of rain and sea water. To access from here awaits you a good test of training. There are in fact 654 steps down and as many to go up… definitely a good adventure. But do you know? If you look at them as a wonderful naturalistic experience, you'll have plenty of opportunities to admire and photograph fantastic corners, because this staircase was built along a limestone cliff overlooking the open sea and offers spectacular views.
But if you prefer only to admire the view over the city of Alghero and prefer to reach the caves comfortably, just return to the city and embark on one of the motorboats that depart from the marine of Alghero to live a mini-cruise in all respects, plus the surprise of the island's best known caves.
Our adventure ends here but I'll be waiting for you soon for another excursion with Ninon
Alghero, known as Barceloneta, is the only Catalan city in Sardinia. It overlooks the northwest coast of the island and its promenade will leave you speechless
Discovering Bonifacio, with its unmistakable French architectural style, with the historical passages of King Carlo Quinto and Napoleone Bonaparte