Orgosolo art

Friday 13.10.23

We are joined by a local tour guide today and there are no railways – well not in the plan but we do visit a station towards the end of the day.

Our prime destination is Orgosolo and the journey there takes us back over the curving roads we used to reach Arbatax yesterday and then goes over the mountain tops so there are excellent views at various times on both sides.

Among other pieces of history our tour guide for the day advises us of the Sardinian aversion to the seas and fish.  Around 1200BC there was an undersea volcanic eruption which caused a huge tsunami which engulfed much of the lower lying lands of southern Sardinia – an area which we have not yet seen but will visit as we go to the capital Cagliari.  There was inevitably huge loss of life and it led to Sardinians becoming permanently scared of the sea – so they limited their sailing excursions and tended not to eat fish relying on what they could grow.  This feeling is deeply embedded into the local psyche.  Subsequently Arbatax became a fishing village only because people living on a neighbouring island saw that the fishing grounds were unfished and moved to Arbatax and took on the fishing.  But for an island surrounded by fish the locals eat far less fish and it is far less prominent on menus than would normally be the case.

The wander around Orgosolo is fascinating.  Wikipedia relates that it was once known as “Bandit Country” which led to a film “Banditi a Orgosolo” in 1961 which is about bandits and sheep stealing.  The murals commenced in  around 1969 and are now a feature which brings the tourists to the town.  An article from The Guardian explains more.  Many of the murals are the work of Francesco del Casino as it says although many others have contributed subsequently.

Lunch slowly roasting on an open fire

We move on from Orgosolo to a small farm outside the town for “lunch with the shepherds”.  It is not obvious how much shepherding they do these days – we understand that the sheep are kept on a farm elsewhere and this location is merely used to feed and entertain the groups who have visited the town earlier in the day.  Obviously fresh food is cooked in front of us and served simply – and one of the best meals of the holiday, out in the fresh air and in the middle of some attractive countryside.

Returning to Arbatax we head into the town itself for a walk around the town and to the edge of the harbour to view the Red Rocks.  Adjacent thereto is the station – no trains and a mystery.  One source today assures us that there have been no trains this summer but later in the holiday we find that the green train has been operating.  For 2024 it is being advertised (but at the time of writing cannot be booked) as a rail and coach excursion from Arbatax to Lanusei and then a couple of options to see the countryside or to eat before returning – all for €69!

Jackie and Red Rocks of Arbatax

The line itself runs to a junction with another line just north of Mandas and is presumably capable of being traversed as the stock for the service obviously is able to come and go for the summer services as they are not obviously anywhere in Arbatax.

We return to the hotel and having had a decent breakfast we are looking forward to dinner but for some reason the food fell short of expectations – sometimes in a buffet one simply chooses the wrong things to eat and perhaps that is what happened here.