Sardinia RAT Tour
Sardinia, earth of tradition and … bikes.
The saying that resumes best the Sardinian atmosphere is no doubt this one, born of the Sardinian culture: "the foreigner first, even if he is a nasty one!!"
Twenty years ago, this wild country inhabited by shepherds keeping their secular traditions was known only to hunters seeking a density of game and an intact nature. Rich families from over the world colonised it bit by bit, and a large part of the western coast today is devoted to tourism, a tourism of the masses which from June to half September press accents the Côte d'Azur alike upon some spots of the largest island of the Mediterranean. And then, suddenly all go home and Sardinia becomes what it always has been, an island shaped by the winds, by the sea and by its vegetation, hiding its natural, artistic and historical richness, an island often qualified by specialists as a small continent given the diversity of the landscape, a rude and beautiful land with gentle people notwithstanding their touchiness that often covers their shyness.
Even if we cannot skip the marvellous coastline, the inland offers the essence of the cultural heritage. The wall paintings of Orgosolo, the Nuraghi at Barumini, the knives of Panatta, the sweets of Dorgali, all these and many other things make the trip to Sardinia a real bath in the cultural cradle named the Mediterranean. Do not skip the visit to he craftsman: he will talk to you for hours about his knives, and it will make you understand the happiness of a job well done. Get lost in this village, wall-painted by artists, a village that brings a message to the world, a rare place where actual mix up with dispute, where accounts are settled on the walls, where happiness is to be read on facades, where colour conveys the message.
Discover the traditional food along lost taverns, drink that somehow rude or slightly sparkling wine that gives you guts and makes you understand better the language as you empty the glasses. Taste the grilled fish at the black pirate's and you will know what is a real meal for friends.
Sardinia is kind of a melting pot between Corsica, Provence, Catalunya and even Morocco. A mix of these dreamlands you discover as you climb each single pass.
One cannot talk about real mountains, but rather about mountainous massifs scattered here and there, separated by large plateaus covered with rocks strangely sculptured by the winds.
The absence of marked relief gives the island a feeling of immensity that is rare on other Mediterranean land. After each curve you will find a known landscape, an impression of déjà vu, of landscapes you have loved or even adored, kind of a condensed pleasure where a single place reminds you of all the places you discovered in earlier days.
The European development programme allowed the territorial government to build up a local road network absolutely unique in Europe, and on these secondary roads, circuits alike, one can pace up and down the profiles and curves of the island.
Imagine a circuit hundreds of kilometres in length, where one finds only a few cobbles brought there by the movements of local wildlife. A circuit that provides intense riding pleasure whatever the speed, where one crosses only a few vehicles outside the tourist season. Of course one will meet from time to time a herd, some cows, horses, sheep and boars, but each of them on its own territory and with respect for the tarmac even if sometimes they do not cross in order to ascertain the taste of the green on the opposite side of the road. In the mountains caution is required, but premonitory signs such as animal dejections will allow avoiding these moving obstacles!!
Exiting a bend one discovers a village adorned by coloured walls, a village where all the pubs are places to exchange ideas and to discuss even if one is not always understood, village with receptive taverns pretext to any celebrations. Suddenly one will discover a lake of indefinable permanently colour that changes permanently as the sun declines. You will ride along wild lagoons that remember you the Camargue, you will climb passes along sharp bended roads, you will discover coasts lined with ochre rocks that turn purple with the sunset as if they flamed every evening to extinguish in the sea.
Main colours of Sardinia are the red of the rocks, the black of basalt but also the green of cork trees, summer oaks and olive trees, the mirth, heather and junipers in the shrubs. Even if some tendencies dominate, a variety of flora makes colour patches on every single massif and area protected from drought.
Although tourism has become in the last few years one of the main sources of income of the island, the traditions and the soul of the Sards have been able to preserve themselves. In villages you will often meet old ladies all covered in black carrying a basket on their heads, and elderly men sitting on stone benches, a cap glued to their heads, who, notwithstanding their appearance of Sardinian bandits, will greet with large smiles. Along the roads you will salute the shepherd, skin clothed even under 35°, keeping his flock while carving the box wood branch that will guide the herd.
But let us talk about bikes. Is this a requirement? It seems to me fully unthinkable visiting Sardinia on any other vehicle, considering the country is that much favourable to the practice of our passion. Whatever the chosen road, the quality of the covers changing colour along the overhaul programs but keeping the same quality are convenient for riding. Some times a truck will have spoiled some litres of gas oil over a few kilometres, but this is an unpredictable event that will refrain the too optimistic rider. However, in the event of rain be careful, as greasy residues will float on top. But rain never is a lasting condition and the sunrays will soon dry the surface and rise a misty atmosphere, strange to drive through.
As to road signs the least they are is strange, so one happens to get lost in a labyrinth of small roads inside villages tortuous a roller coaster alike. Distance figures appear as a rarity, as if you had to guess how long you will enjoy the ride. Beware for rail crossings, they never are levelled, and be careful in front of roadwork signs, mostly the workplaces lie just behind the signs!!
To make fun in Sardinia is not just euphemistic. We had the full lot of it, touring, riding, beach, boat, riding at night, gastronomy and even cultural visits such as the Nuraghic civilisation which origin and fate are still untraced. You will discover those heaps of stones that were villages, defences or even fortresses, a latent mystery in this island. Visiting Sardinia means impregnating oneself in this country and get the maximum benefit of it.
The Roman, Carthaginian or even Greek ruins are remains of what always frightened the Sards: the conquerors coming from the sea. That is why one never should consider Sardinia as a conquest. Sardinia must be won, it will reveal itself after some time, but once you have discovered it you will have only one wish: to come back.
To us it's OK; we will go back in 2007 !!
You want to visit the Sardinia Island, you want a good contact in this superb island.
You can phone to our friend Sonia on the travel agency :
Isole Gemelle By A.M.S.
Tel.: (+39) 079.500620
Fax: (+39) 079.500635