“ The traveller’s choice award 2016 “ : Sardinia tops the league of the most beautiful beaches in Italy

Once again, Sardinia tops the chart according to the tripadvisor classification..
here are the 10 most beautiful beaches in Italy. Sardinia won the first place – with Cala Mariolu – and also won 4 other positions in the Tripadvisor ranking on the most beautiful Italian beaches. The “Traveller’s Choice award 2016” is based on votes and comments of millions of users, collected during 2015.

And here is the link with pictures : http://bit.ly/1U9nW22

Another reason to enjoy the peace and beauty of our villa in between trips to the beach 🙂

On a classic note, a local newspaper headlined this as “Sardinia beats Sicily to the top position”. Regional rivalry seems to exist wherever you end up in the world 😉

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‘Grand Designs’ in Sardinia (or ‘Small Sympathetic Rebuild ‘ in Perfugas)

Some prospective renters are very careful and thorough in choosing the place they will stay at on holiday. I was still  very surprised on the 2 occasions a potential client asked if we had anybody living in the building right near us … Or how far away were the neighbours as they looked pretty close on Gooole Earth ( the answer is no, they are 200 m away). Google Earth ?? I would never have thought of checking a location this way but it is a great idea as you can check the accuracies of any rental claims.

google earth villa nuraghe
We are in a very peaceful and green location indeed . Our only neighbour is 200m away. I always thought it was more like 600 as Martino looks like a big ant when seen from the front garden.

google earth villa nuraghe.JPG1
There is another building on the property  (highlighted in red) but nodody lives there but the odd lizard !
So here is the story of a eco-rebuild-whilst-keeping-all-the-authentic-features-in-project.

Malc & I are very fond of the TV program ‘Grand Designs’. When we first started doing up the stazzu, it did cross my mind to call the channel to see if they wanted to follow our rebuild. Aren’t I glad I never did it !! More than 3 years down the line and we are finishing it still. Of course, there was bureaucratic hold ups and delays. And the fact we can only work for some part of the off season …. Did I mention the fact Malc is an early bird and I am anything but ? Anyway, we are plodding on and this lovely 19th century stone country house shall be open for rental in the spring 2017 at the very latest. And we have always intended to rent it as an add on annexe to the main house rather than 2 separate rentals. This means the holiday location retains its privacy but is available for couples and smaller groups ; or larger groups of friends, large family etc. Privacy is what Villa Nuraghe is all about !

When we first looked at the stazzu ( “Stazzu” is the sardinian name of their typical country house. They kind of look like a Devon longhouse or farm), it had been unhabited for a good 40 years plus and was used as food and general surplus storage.

The owner , now is her mid sixties was born there as were her parents. There were a total of 4 siblings and the parents living in a 3 room house, a fairly common occurrence back then. There was no mains water and no mains electrics. It was the woman’s job to fetch the water daily from the local fountain (that doubled up as the clothes washing/ gathering place).

The mains electricity only arrived in the hamlet in the early 70’s as did tarmacked roads. I kid you not ! Lighting was by candle lights, oil or gas powered lamp until then. Cooking was mostly done on an open fire indoors (or using a charcoal burner in the rudimentary kitchen) or the traditional oven. With the propagation of gas and electric cookers, washing machines and mains water finally arriving here , women were un-slaved from some of the most time consuming chores.

So here is a series of before / during / after pictures of our stazzu restoration. This is still a work in progress so I will keep adding pictures and details until it is completed.

The outside frontage:

The back of the stazzu:

Left hand room:

We were told the original owners were the first to have such posh tiles in the whole neighbourhood. To celebrate; they invited everybody and they had a massive bal in that room. Accordeon and classic Sardinian music I bet …

 

Centre room with the oven and fireplace:

Right hand room:

and here is a selection of step by step details close to my heart :

The addition of a stone container in the lounge:

An existing hole for the old electricity meter box is turned into a sweet alcove

the discovery and exposure of beautiful original stones:

The renovation process of our ancient internal wooden doors :

And a couple of small holes in the wall turned out to be hidy holes and runs for lizzards or mice :

Still to do before opening for rental: tile 2 rooms, put the solar panel and 2 ensuite bathrooms in. As for the outside, we need to sandblast the stones and pointing.

Quick to type those jobs up , way longer to achieve !

An English green architect and his artist wife moved into the village recently and we showed them around . They told us about their belief of “integrity in design and honesty in the rebuild”. According to them, an old building should not be done up as new, with straight walls etc. I was quite upset that day as despite 2 thick coats of render and countless hours work to make the roof line good and quasi invisible, you could still see where the edges were between the old building and the current raised room and roof. They both told me they preferred it that way as you could see the changes the building had undergone and it was in effect better having textured / non straight walls as all the stazzu was like that anyway …. So I did let it be. And after a coat of paint, it was looking great in all its authentic glory !

Come back to this website regularly as more will added as the renovation progresses!

San Isodoro festa in Perfugas

This festa is one of the most important for this rural community. San Isodoro is indeed the patron saint of farmers and shepards. Many of them do turn up for the procession and the following mass afterwards. The display of beautifully decorated tractors and horse riders in traditional costumes is well worth seeing if you happen to be in Sardinia that second week end of September. Similar processions take place all over the island on this special day.

Here is a serie of pictures. Enjoy !!

 

Our first newly weds !!

We were very flattered to have a lovely couple from Belgium choosing specifically our villa for their wedding and first part of their honeymoon.
The wedding ceremony was held in the grounds underneath Castelsardo castle. Bert and Kelly very kindly invited us and it was beautiful. Though we did not understand Flemish, we could feel the emotion and strength of their commitment.
This was followed by a delicious meal in an agriturismo and winery near Sorso.

Knowing how much Bert and Kelly meticulously planned every detail of their wedding, it was an honour to hear them say it was the best place they ever stayed at .

Here is their review :
A little place called paradise … (5 out of 5 stars)
“The Villa Nuraghe simply is the best place we ever rented as a vacation residence! Quiet location, clean, not too far from the sea but very private. All needed comfort (pool, well equipped bathroom, kitchen, …) with an extraordinary service from the super friendly owners who will do their utmost to make your stay as good as it can be… Top establishment with top service for a more than honest price!”

2 local via ferratas

Happy New Year to you all. May you have fun, travel loads and discover many great things about the world around you and yourselves !!
This post has been 5 months in the offing as we did 2 local via ferratas this summer.
I suggested to Malc that he prepares the post for a change as he was a very keen free climber back in the 80s. This obviously did not happen in time 😉 and after all, the impressions of the VF might as well come from a semi beginner like me.

So here are my memories and impressions of those climbs .
The 1st one we did was the Cabirol ferrata in Alghero. http://www.ferratacabirol.it/

Absolutely beautiful and panoramic scenery from the cliff face as you tower over the clear blue sea of the Porto Conte bay. From the rock face, the big tourist boats looked like lego ones, lol !

Make sure to start the VF by 10am at the very latest as it is positively cooking on the cliff face which is in the full sun by 2pm.
We left Perfugas about 8am and arrived at the site at 9am which was perfect.
There is free parking near the start. The approach is longer than stated on the website, I would say about 30 mns minimum, all uphill. There is a large cave at the top which can be clearly seen on the approach and is a good place, with stunning views, to enjoy a cool drink and sort out your gear before you start the climb.

The1st section is a ledge and is more of a stroll really, with some protection. At the end of it, you have the 22 metres long vertical section and short traverse . This can feel a little exposed, especially in a keen breeze from the sea. So let me be clear, if you suffer from vertigo, don’t do it !! And if you have poor arms muscles like i turned out to have, this may be a challenge. I attacked it fairly quickly as those metal steps constituting the vertical are on a slight overhang and I could feel my arms getting tired by having to support my own body weight. I should have listened to Malc’s advice about using the extra sling and carabina to allow me to clip on to the metal rung and hang in my harness whenever I felt like a rest.

After that, the second ledge starts. It is very narrow in places and there are some interesting moments to be had, especially if you are 5,2 ft and need to seriously stretch at times or are 6,2 in which case you will have “extra fun” in some sections too. It is not difficult but some sections have an overhang which means leaning out on the wire whilst placing feet carefully on the rocks. Again this can feel quite exposed, but the beauty of the rock and the sea are fully realised on this section.
There are plenty of places to stop, have a rest and enjoy the panorama.
This VF can be done clockwise or counter clock wise. However, I would not like to have to cross over somebody on some narrower ledges so I would recommend to keep to the usual climbing direction.

We rounded up this climb with a coffee at a small local beach and finished with a succulent fish meal

The second climb, called Via della regina, was in the village of Monte Leone. This time, the panorama is countryside, by a lake. http://www.ferrataregina.it/
You can freely park near the church at the top of the village. The approach to the site takes about 30 mns. You will notice many bolted climbs routes along the way.

What sticks more in memory is the start up a wire rope ladder to a slightly over-hanging vertical climb, more than 20 metres this time round with a longer traverse This is the most difficult part of the via ferrata but good fun! For me it was less of a challenge than the other VF as I learnt to rest in my harness when I felt like it. Not to mention the fortnight of presses and various toning exercices after the Cabirol VF 😉

The other interest thing is the 20 metre long Tibetan bridge , not too long but nice sensations.


As always, great views and plenty of resting places and long strolls between the climbs.
I overall felt this VF was easier; though Malc with the heavy safety rope in his rucksack may beg to differ 🙂