admin August 30th, 2011
May 22 – 28, 2012 ~ 7 Days ~ Group Size: 6
AHA is so pleased to have Gillian Seely on board to guide this deeply cultural adventure to her loved Sardegna.? An effervescent and bright young woman who loves AHA as I do, whomever travels with her to Italy will have a wonderful and rich time.? I will be joining this trip, my first to Sardegna, so am looking forward to learning all about this island right along side of you.
Why Sardegna?? By Gillian Seely
In 2006, I went with a friend to the French island of Corsica for a long weekend. ?It was stunning, peaceful, and vibrant in a bizarre and serene way that is unique to the Mediterranean, but it was missing something. ?Admittedly an Italophile, I wasn?t really satisfied. ??I want my seafood mixed in with al dente linguine?, and ?Why aren?t people yelling at each other in heated conversation over dinner?? I whined (in my head, of course). ?The island immediately to the south beckoned. ?I wanted to go to Sardegna?to see the same kind of island, but, in my mind, the improved version. ?Improved simply by virtue of having been inhabited by the fiery and beautiful Italians with whom I am so obsessed. ?We didn?t have time.
In the summer of 2010, several years after moving stateside, I did go back to the Mediterranean, and finally, to Sardegna. ?It exceeded my expectations, and now I have been honored with the opportunity to lead an Art History Alive trip to this incredible and unforgettable island.
What can you expect to experience on an AHA trip to Sardegna? ?Without paraphrasing the itinerary, here?s a look at the cultural highlights that make this one of my favorite destinations:
The Language: ?Lingua Sarda?, ?Sardu?, or ?Limba Sarda?. ?A beautiful and musical language that is Italian in essence, but is completely different– as any Italian will readily admit. ?The language is said to ?feature archaic phonetic features when compared to other Romance languages?. ?It is believed to have been influenced by Illyrian, Etruscan, and even the Basque language. ??The root of ?sard? is said to have come from the ?Sherden?, one of the so-called ?Peoples of the Sea?. ?I?m not a linguist, but it is noticeably different from the Italian I have studied, and for me, listening to Sardu makes me feel like I?m eavesdropping on something ancient and mysterious.
The Food: Expect to taste authentically-regional island cuisine that comes straight from the sea and the land?really! ?You?ll find very few gimmicky ?spaghetti Bolognese? set menus here. ?Save for a few major grocery chains that import from the continent, the island heavily utilizes its own resources– from seafood to locally-grown produce, and grapes that make unique and flavorful wines. ?And the locals are very proud of this point, as you might imagine. ?Some delicacies of the island include ?pane carasu? or ?music bread?, a flat, tortilla-like accompaniment to many main courses; and ?fregula?, a pasta of Moorish origin that resembles couscous. ?Everything is unique and flavorful!
The Music: Cantu a Tenore is an ancient form of polyphonic ?throat singing? that has put the island on the map, musically. ?According to some historians, the practice of singing in this style dates back to the Nuragic civilization (we?ll learn all about them on this trip). ?Some speculate that the deeply-primitive and almost Moorish sounds were intended to mimic the sounds of the sheep. ?The Nuragic people were shepherds.
The Sites: We will see the Nuraghe dwellings, and the Domus de Janas (literally, ?houses of the fairies?). ?These are strange, prehistoric, beehive-like structures, believed to have been inhabited by the semi-nomadic Sardegnan people. ?We will also see the breathtaking Grotto di Nettuno (Neptune?s Grotto), a massive system of coastal caverns filled with intense geological features. ?This is one of the most visually-appealing stalactite caves in Europe, and the approach by boat is dramatic to say the least.
The Beaches: White sands, blue water with excellent visibility, and countless opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming in refreshing waters. ?Sure, this isn?t the main thrust of the trip, but these beaches are to die for.
Tempted yet? ?Sardegna isn?t for everyone. ?It does not offer bustling urban nightlife, well-managed museums, high-end shopping districts, or high-profile Roman ruins. ?It can be challenging to get around, the residents are uncommonly conservative, and tourism is relatively new to the island. ?It is, however, a wonderful place for an authentic Mediterranean adventure and deeply cultural experience. ? Think of Sardegna as Italy?s unruly, wild, but stunningly-beautiful cousin.
D.H. Lawrence said it best:
?Sardinia, which is like nowhere. Sardinia, which has no history, no date, no race, no offering. Let it be Sardinia. They say neither Romans nor Phoenicians, Greeks nor Arabs ever subdued Sardinia. It lies out- side; outside the circuit of civilisation. Like the Basque lands. Sure enough, it is Italian now, with its railways and its motor-omnibuses. But there is an uncaptured Sardinia still. It lies within the net of this European civilisation, but it isn’t landed yet?Let it be Sardinia.?