- 02 SPRING TOUR - CAGLIARI - SARDINIA - March 22nd - 26th
(Or a Gastronomic Tour of Sardinian Ethnic Cuisine)
Videos from YouTube referenced in this
log will be shown in a new window]
This tour was not planned
as a culinary experience, but thanks to Franco Staffa and his assistant Virginia,
it turned out to be so. Contact with Franco - an English language teacher
based in Cagliari, was made via an old friend from previous trips - Chris
Dove of the British Council.
22nd Mar. For once
we had a civilized departure time with Easy Jet from Stanstead in the afternoon
arriving at the Hostel Marina in Cagliari mid evening. Ken met a couple of
girls at the airport who were staying at the same hostel; they promised to
come & watch us dance.
Not much time left that
night except to stagger to the local Pizzeria for a platter and copious red
wine plus a brief sing-song. And so to bed.
23rd Mar. A better
look at the Hostel Marina in the morning & ready to be off.
One of the benefits of
working with a local contact on these overseas tours is that it is possible
to engage and perform to / with local groups. Franco, through his education
contact with the headmistress Gisella Caddeo, had organised us to visit &
perform at a local school - Scuola Ugo Foscolo. Off then through Cagliari
streets to a local bus stop & on to the school guided by our lovely Virginia.
A "green room" had been set-aside for our use at the school where
we met with members of the school staff including Headmistress Gisella Caddeo.
Rapper rehearsal for some, and a more technical distraction for others.
The school had embraced the occasion - turning out all the pupils to watch in
the playground, but moreover, had enhanced the festivities with performances
of their own school orchestra and a drum band from a nearby school. Then, "With
a noise & a din comes the Morris Dancer in" .
First on, the school
Then ESMM - including
a Rapper dance.
Then the Drum Band. Could do with some of these people in ESMM to keep the
was real warmth & enthusiasm from the pupils & staff - it's touching!
Back to the "Green
Room" and a most magnificent lunch of traditional Sardinian dishes prepared
by Giulia Carboni (who had been at it from the early hours). this was the first
"course" in our education into Sardinian cuisine, and we were well
fed up indeed! Thank you.
Service bus back to the hostel
and a rest before the evening events.
The evening was billed
as a dance for the local press and TV at a new shopping plaza. On arrival, pretty
deserted, but at the appointed hour there were more people about and more still
attracted by the dancing. We never saw the TV clips, but the newspaper
article is shown below.
Then off to supper
courtesy of the Press & TV at a local restaurant. It was closed when we
arrived before time (staff dining), so a wait outside gave us the opportunity
to watch the local girls plying their early evening trade roadside. The meal
was billed as seven ante-pasta courses, pasta, then a main course. What was
not then said was that all courses were "fish" to the delight of most
but the horror of a couple. Such a banquet at the hands of Efisio Mameli the
restauranter was most appreciated, and warmly accompanied by Franco and his
The first course included
octopus, tuna, swordfish, two varieties of mussels, squid and battered scampi
with fried fish fillets. The pasta was small round balls in a tomato sauce and
clams. The main course was tempura mixed fish with a salad of tomatoes, celery,
fennel & radishes. Second "course" in our education into Sardinian
cuisine - yum!. The walk home for most of us did us good (missed the last bus).
The sticks went by taxi.
24th Mar. Our free
day until evening engagements. It was an opportunity to explore & dance
around the town. That meant a wander up to the cathedral & castle though
the old town of Cagliari.
Then to the piazza
which was accessible by lift for those more perambulatory challenged. It was
hot and bright here, but an opportunity for a dance & great sights over
Next stop was to have
been the Cathedral, but sadly there was a funeral in progress so a pause at
a small cafe in a local square. After a few minutes a group of about 80 schoolchildren
passed through & spotted us (possibly from the press coverage) & since
the coffin had then passed though, we obliged.
On to a bar overlooking the town & harbour for a dance and brief drink.
Then downwards via
the castle portcullis to lunch at tourist square (poor service) then optional
rest, or beers at the bar next to the hostel.
This evening was billed
as a night with the local dance group. To get there, a bus trip guided by
Virginia - our trusty minder & met by by Franco, at a suburb - Quartu
where the main street had been "predestrianised" for an ethnic street
Fayre and spots to dance. Our initial touchpoint with the Sardinian group
"Citta di Quartu" and their leader Gianni Orru was brief as we were
directed to dance at different stands along the street.
The street was lined with stalls selling Sardinian produce, an excellent opportunity
to buy local cheeses, pasta and crafts between dances.
Finally we came together in the middle of the street to dance with Citta di
Quartu. Their musical instruments were very interesting the piped sounded like
bagpipes, but without a sack - circular breathing kept the drones going.
Some dances had an athletic quality...
... but the centerpiece
performance was a ballet telling a tale around a Nuraghi (an ancient building
type found in Sardinia - see the visit to Su Nuraxi at Barumini on Sunday below)
which was ceremoniously "cut down" & burned with a tale along
the lines of "out with the old & in with the new". During the
ritual dance the tower burst into flames and became the source of many lights
carried by dancers. A most spectacular show.
After the dancing
off to a local restaurant hosted by Efisio Mameli the proprietor accompanied
by representatives of the Sardinian Group. Another Sardinian feast. After the
fish extravaganza of last night this was carnivorous based but with delicious
vegetables included in the ante pasta - broad beans, aubergine, chick peas with
croutons, braised chard then mixed cold meats and two cheeses - one of which
was declared delicious but entirely unknown to us. The pasta & ravioli was
followed by main course of: veal, lamb, suckling pig (possibly wild boar) and
donkey. Then sweet biscuits & grappa. A few songs & dances (including
some from the Sardinians), then back home courtesy of our hosts with a dramatic
display of Italian driving.
25th March. We had
been encouraged to spend this day on a couch trip to one of Sardinian archaeological
sites - Su Nuraxi at Barumini. The journey to the site gave us an opportunity
to see something of the Sardinian countryside - at least those of us who could
Su Nuraxi is a very
old site - iron age which means that the sheer size and complexity of these
fortified houses at that age is very impressive. Apparently there are about
8,000 of these buildings, many not yet located, and none so well preserved as
this. With the help of our guide, we discovered a fascinating glimpse of Sardinian
history. We even blessed the site with a dance.
Lunch at an adjacent
cafe - and another Sardinian gastronomic experience. We asked Virginia if Sardinians
always ate like this - no! This meal introduced us to new Sardinian breads -
one like an Indian nan - but with olive oils drizzled, and another like a pompadom
(we were given some like these by Franco to take home). These were eaten with
cheeses, pickled chard, olives, chick peas and a mixture of braised hearts,
livers & sweetbreads. The pasta included vegetarian ravioli and pasta twists
with sausage / meatballs. The main course was pork and braised goat; delicious.
A sleep on the coach homeward.
After all that, it
was a late siesta then a top-up at the pizza house before a last fling at a
a local bar - which had been very encouraging to us. There song and dance &
a late grappa before bedtime.
26th March. Not
much to say here, back to Blighty, but a very warm thanks to:
Franco & Virginia for their help in Cagliari,
Media Froscolo for
their hospitality - and brining other groups into our visit,
Videolina for their hospitality (we never saw
the TV coverage - but I'm sure it was there).
Citta di Quartu and Efisio
Mameli for their spectacular dancing & hospitality,
... and not least to Mick Reeve & Kenny Polland for organising the tour.
Tim Huggins (Squire), Mick Reeve (Bagman & M), Kenny Polland (assistant
Bagman), Des Herring (Billy the Horse), Ken Simmons (Cakeman), David Tydeman
(M & D), Bill Johnston (M) Dick Thornborrow (M), Peter Dodd (M), David
Dolby (M), Martin Frost (M & D), Dave Brewster (M), Mike Garland (D),
Rob McDermott (D), Ian Meigh (D), Mike palmer (D), Lawrie Aitken (D), Peter
Kay (D), Brian Prettyman (D), Keith Graham (D), Roy Page (D), Kevin Blatch
VIDEO CLIPS (on You Tube)