I slept beautifully last night, and woke up minutes before my alarm. I love it when that happens. It feels like I cheated the world somehow and did things on my terms! I had an early start because I wanted to absorb as much of Cagliari as I physically could before catching the bus the Nuoro in the afternoon, but since I was by myself I leisurely devoured (can you devour something leisurely?) my breakfast and had my first cappuccino of this trip (bliss!) before setting out.
I ambled through what felt like the back streets of the city, which formed a maze leading up a hill from the coast to the historic centre of the city, Castello. Despite carrying my trusty guidebook, I stopped to ask directions, a feat which was so successful and, actually, pleasing given the response, that I couldn’t be stopped from repeating this all day! Maybe I just wanted an excuse to open my mouth though, because most of the time, I was pretty sure of where I was going!
I climbed the majestic steps of the Bastione San Remy which provides the most picturesque entrance to the Castello quarter. The panoramic views from the top were well worth the steep climb up in the heat. I asked a nice Northern Irish couple to take my picture and then continued to wander up another steep climb which led me passed most of the important features of this area, including the cathedral and the palazzo viceregio. Having left said palazzo, I was stopped by a gentleman who was looking for a pharmacy. I apologised and explained that I wasn’t a local, and my initial excitement at his surprise soon died as he began to spout at me about his online poetry which focuses on the necessity of woman in all existence. Even mother earth is female you know. I edged slowly away...
I reached the top of the Castello quarter, climbed down around the Roman Amphitheatre and sat for a while in the shade of the Botanical wood which had a beautiful collection of trees and cacti. I was thrilled to find a typical place selling slices of pizza, and practically skipped my way to the Torre dell’Elifante, the tallest tower which still remains from the original Pisan construction built to defend Cagliari in the 15thC? I have always climbed every tower and cathedral that it has been possible to climb in Italy, and despite the temperature, this would be no exception. I slowly clambered up the stairs which were much sturdier than many I have climbed, and took in the beautiful vistas at the top, also managing to get some photos with the help of a generous young father in exchange for my own photographic skills.
I rounded things off with a stroll along the coast before making my way to the bus station, newly armed with my monster of a suitcase. All was going well. My only hiccough was my first incident with accent difficulty in the station, when a cleaner kindly unlocked the toilets for me, mumbled some totally incomprehensible phrase at me, which I only later realised was referring to a lack of toilet paper. Typical!
The bus journey was unexpectedly comfortable: air-conditioned and smooth enough for me to fall asleep! As I descended in Nuoro, I wrongly addressed a random woman as Gavina and then saw my actual hostess of sorts running towards me enthusiastically. She and her husband, Antonio, bought me a juice at the bar and then brought me home to the gorgeous bed and breakfast where I will be staying. They overwhelmed me with facilities, features and kindnesses. Gavina had even contacted the library to ensure I would have access to Deledda’s work!
Having everything I could possibly need at my fingertips, I felt too lazy from my long day to face any more wandering. Instead, I faced an ancient fear from my year abroad: ordering a pizza over the phone! I have never, ever managed to order a pizza, even though we ate pizza every single Sunday. I hate talking on the phone at the best of times, let alone in another language! I took the plunge, made the call, and was feeling ever so pleased with my success.... until the guy asked if I was foreign. I confirmed, disheartened, then realised he was just checking since my phone number was British! He clearly wasn’t prepared to deliver that far afield!