Blue. Pink. Yellow. Green. Violet. Mauve. Rust. My mouth was hanging open in true amazement. I was taking my first passegiata through the amazing town of Bosa on the eastern coast of Sardinia. The crumbling, narrow medieval lanes, winding up Serravalle hill to the Castello Malaspina, were lined with homes washed in dazzling color. I snapped photo after photo after photo. What a wonderful and unexpected feast to the eyes! As it was only April and early morning, there was still a chill in the air and a few locals hurrying about their business. The sunlight, filtering down only where possible between the gaps in the tall buildings lining the lanes, created an air of spookiness amongst the riot of color. A few sets of eyes peered out at me from behind beaded curtains, curious as to who this solo stranger might be. My mood alternated between pure delight and wariness as I slowly meadered up the steep lanes to the Castello Malaspina. I arrived at the Castello way before it was to be open so I sat on the stone wall overlooking Sa Costa, the area through which I had just passed, feet dangling and reading my English-translated guidebook on Bosa.
I have always thought that an English-speaking person could make a small fortune properly translating Italian websites and guidebooks. How often I chuckle as I read a poorly translated Italian website or guidebook. The book on Bosa that I was reading was no exception. The following legend (even poorly translated) only served to add to the spooky, mysterious ambience as I sat on the wall high above Bosa.
“The Legend of Two Lovers” (from The Guides Altair; as printed :o)))
‘Every castle has its ghost. And the Castle of Serravalle has its couple of ghosts. The legend says that an old king once decided to marry a young beautiful girl. The king was not scared by the differences in age, thinking that care and gifts would have been enough to satisfy his bride. But, unlucky, the girl felt in love with a boy.
The king knew everything and decided to imprison the girl in the deepest side of Serravalle, a tower over a fearful precipice. The boy escaped capture but desire to meet the beloved girl. One night, sure not be seen, he came back to Bosa. The king, informed by a spy, captured him. The boy was closed in a cell next to the queen. The two lovers eared each other but they did see themselves. One day the king decided to stop this story. He took the two off the prison to the edge of the precipice.
One after the other he hurled them out of the precipice. It is said that the two lovers are still there and that it is possible to hear their lament. After midnight the dead lovers go out of the cemetery and go to the precipice. It is said that, in this procession to the precipice, the lovers are followed by the shadows of the ones that are going to die during the year.’
Hmmmpf. Rather uplifting, no?? Perhaps I should just toodle down to the cemetary that I could see from my perch to keep the mood intact?? Well, off I went. The cimitero was simply fascinating. Those with the bucks had fancy mausoleums surrounded by grass and flower beds in the front while those less-well-off were relegated to overly crowded, stacked cement boxes with the occasional oval photo of one long gone. Fascinating place to wander. Unfortunately, I have a superstition about posting photos of cemetaries and dead folks. So as to avoid sudden lightening bolts streaking from the sky, I won’t post any photos. But please remind me next time you come to dinner!
I wandered back to the Castello, only to realize that it had no intentions of opening as it was way past the expected opening time. I then watched a police car marked CARABINIERI with 4 hunky Italians in uniform speed up the hill, jump out of the car and jump up and over the castle walls only to disappear into the Castello. I noticed them minutes later at the top of the castle apparently doing a bit of sightseeing in their spare time. So I relunctantly trundled back down the hill to town.
Bosa is located in the province of Oristano on the western coast of Sardinia. The little town is located on the peaceful banks of the River Temo and is encircled by mountains, providing little access to other Sardinian towns. It is a delightful place to rest one’s laurels after a few days of frenetic sightseeing and was just what I needed after the pace of the past few days. The town is divided into two main areas: the town of Bosa with it’s medieval quarter, Sa Costa, and the peaceful, quite surroundings of the River Temo and its lower town, Sa Piana. Along the western outskirts, Bosa Marina has started to be developed and offers a rather offbeat coastal edge to the town. There is a nice wide beach and a few decent restaurants to be found along this stretch. I had lunch one afternoon along this stretch. Although the food was rather forgettable, I had a cute experience with the owner and his wife. The elderly owner seated me and gave me a beachfront table which seated 6. I protested and said that I was happy to sit at a smaller table so as not to take so much room – however, he insisted that he give me the larger table as I was an americana. When his wife came out to give me a menu, she let him have it for giving such a large table to a single female. She had assumed that I spoke no italian but I clearly got the message – when she returned to take my order, I again offered to take a smaller table – in Italian. When she realized that I had understood what she said, she smiled, apologized and said to sit and stay as long as I wanted. They were a delight during lunch.
My hotel, Corte Fiorita, was a wonderful surprise. The hotel rested along the banks of the Temo and although I had to trudge up 43 steps to my room (no elevator!), it was worth every step. I had a wonderful
view of the river and at night was able to sleep with my window ajar to listen to the peaceful comings and goings along the river in the morning. The long haul up to my room only served to work off all the wonderful food that I had had late into the night. After 3 peaceful days, I left Bosa and headed south to the capital of Sardinia, Ca’gliari. We will explore this cool, hip city next time but first we must try our hand at a local dish – Fregola Sarda con Arselle (Fregola pasta with clams) – a warm blend of tomatoes, clams, parsley, garlic and the special pasta of Sardinia, fregola. The wonderfully aromatic broth of tomatoes and clam broth combined with the toasted bite of the fregola was heavenly. Look for the recipe post shortly as we are whipping up a batch for friends tomorrow evening! Ci vediamo presto, Michele