Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Beautiful Grey Mediterranean

March 15, 2011

We crawled out of bed around 7:30. Rachel wanted to go down to the beach, so she and I got dressed and headed on down there.

The sky was overcast and grey. The ocean was also grey, reflecting the dismal sky.

The sand was a nice brown, and there were some pretty flowers and heart-shaped leaves which brightened the scene a bit. We found a couple of nice cockle shells, and a genuine cuttlefish bone that had obviously never seen the inside of a store.

The waves flowing and the sound of the surf were quite relaxing. Before we knew it a half-hour had gone by and we had to hurry to get inside, bathe, dress, and prepare for the hour drive into Cagliari to meet up with Salvatore and Angela Maria. I (Bob) had never driven in Italy before, and we were a bit nervous as we started out for the city. Italian drivers tend to treat lane markers and street signs as suggestions and we were not sure how we would fare given the conditions. It turned out fine. When in Rome, drive like an Italian. You will be fine.

We got there on time and immediately headed out for a pre-Roman archaeological site about 25 kilometers from the city.

Salvatore drove, and although the ride was quite exciting we arrived safely and in one piece at our destination: Barumini.

Barumini was an Etruscan settlement on the island of Sardinia around 1500 B.C. Angela Maria was a part of the original University exploratory staff that excavated the original discovery in 1965. It was a fortress with 5 towers, fortified sometime after its original construction, with an extra 3 feet of stone around all the walls. That sounds easy, but when you consider the walls are about 100’ high and you are working with short people and blocks that weigh 7 tons, it doesn’t sound quite so easy.
We crawled all over the site, climbing through tiny passages that some of us could barely squeeze through, and learned a lot about what is considered “secure” for someone who has just discovered the virtues of bronze.

After the exploration of the Etruscan settlement, we went to a museum which stored artifacts from the Etruscan site. There were lots of primitive (by our standards) bowls and scrapers and the usual archaeological fare, plus they had a section on underwater archaeological discoveries in the Cagliari port area.

We got to see a huge collection of ceramics which held a variety of trade goods, and several different drag stones which were precursors of anchors.

From there it was off to an amazing 4 course lunch with a huge variety of local gastronomic favorites. I could not eat everything that was placed before me. The food here is simply magnificent. If I lived here I would die early, and content, for sure.

After lunch we headed out to the Zapata Palace, where another ancient dig had been unearthed after repairs to the palace were initiated. The palace was unwittingly built upon an ancient archaeological site, and when the palace fell into disrepair the state decided to do some work and discovered another pre-Roman site.
The significant thing about these two sites is that they both indicate a nation preparing for war, showing that war goes back to at least 1500 years before the Christian era, or 3,500 years before now. Will we ever learn?

After the Zapata Palace site we headed back to Cagliari, and then home to our villa on the shores of the Mediterranean, where we are treated to the wonderful sounds of the ocean, and a quick lightning storm.
We ended the night with wine, beer, cards, and conversation. This has been a very satisfying day.

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