My last night on Italy’s second largest island was spent in Alghero, Sardinia – a beautiful and historical city on the island’s west coast. I was travelling from Palau via Tempio and Sassari after staying in La Maddalena the previous evening. The journey from the northeast of the island to the west by public transport is not for the faint-hearted but I desperately wanted to see the city before I left for mainland Italy so I decided it would be worth the trip.
After getting off the ferry in Palau, I couldn’t find a bar that sold bus tickets, so I presumed that I would be able to buy one on the bus. When the bus arrived, the driver said this wasn’t possible and that I would need to run to find somewhere to buy a ticket. Luckily, a kind Italian lady saw that I had no idea where to go and literally took me by the hand to a bar. It also turned out that she was travelling all the way to Alghero too, meaning that I had company (whether I liked it or not!) for my entire trip! She couldn’t speak a word of English and my Italian (which is very much a work in progress) could only get us so far…but she insisted on paying my final bus ticket from Sassari to Alghero (bless) and so we attempted broken conversation for most of the day.
After five hours of buses (I am not kidding), I checked in to my last Sardinian accommodation – the glamorous B&B La Bouganville. After showering and changing into something a bit more stylish (after four days of travelling, I was in need of a bit of a pamper and dress up) I headed out into the warm Italian evening. It was surprisingly mild, the evenings on the east coast had turned decidedly chilly over my last few weeks, but Alghero was still hanging onto the end of summer.
It was a good 20-minute walk from the B&B to the historic centre of the city – where all of the little shops, restaurants and bars are located – which probably explains why the room rate was so cheap. The first 10 minutes of the walk were a little sketchy; from the B&B until you reach the beachfront promenade, it’s basically an unlit industrial zone.
After I reached the pretty historic walls of the old town, I wandered around for a while, getting completely lost in Alghero’s maze of narrow, cobbled streets. It’s a truly beautiful place, even in the dark (street lights are definitely not in abundance here!) and reminded me of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
I stumbled upon a tiny backstreet restaurant called Trattoria da Mirko on Via Gioberti, where the traditional Italian décor and a couple eating some seriously delicious looking food outside made me venture inside.
It was still early for eating dinner, around 8 pm, but I was hungry after having nothing but the simple breakfast at the B&B in La Maddalena that morning. The waiter seemed really friendly, and apart from the couple outside, there was only one other table in. I decided, as it was my last night in Sardinia, that I’d have a couple of courses…and because it had been my beer of choice during my four-week stay, a very large Ichnusa!
I started with a ridiculously good plate of traditional Sardinian flatbread, covered in cheese and flavoured with blackberries. For the main course, I asked for a recommendation and the waiter suggested a simple (but much loved locally) pasta with tomato and sausage sauce. The whole thing was perfect, and after having a bit of an issue with other diners in La Maddalena (which you can read about in Solo Travel: A Quick Guide to Eating Alone) it was lovely to be left in peace to just enjoy the amazing food! My meal and (large!) beer came to less than €20, which seemed like a pretty good deal for the portion size and service.
I headed back out into Alghero’s streets, walking (slowly!) towards the Chiesa di San Francesco, which looked beautiful lit up against the night sky. Most of the shops had closed for the evening but it was lovely to stroll through all the twisting cobbled streets and peer into the windows.
On the way back to the B&B, I overheard a group of people speaking in English about how hungry they were and saying that they didn’t know where to go. I stopped for a minute and chatted to them (it turned out they were on a trip from Bosa, a town further down the coast) suggesting that they might want to wander in the direction of Trattoria da Mirko for some reasonably priced, delicious food.
I got back to La Bouganville and almost instantly crashed out (on what turned out to be the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in…thank god!) I knew that the next day’s bus to Cagliari…and the 13-hour night ferry from Cagliari to Naples, was going to be hard going but I was so happy to have fitted in even a small amount of time in Alghero!
Have you visited Alghero? I’d love to hear your recommendations for things to see and do for next time! Please feel free to leave a comment below: