Celebrating Sardinia

Celebrating Sardinia

13–22 April 2018 | 3–12 May 2019

How does it feel to be part of a six-centuries old celebration? Come to Sardinia for the feast of their patron Saint Antioco and find out. You’ll be immersed in the living history of Sardinian food and culture as folk dancers, musicians and horsemen in traditional dress converge on the town of Sant’Antioco for two days of street parties. After the party, you’ll discover the simplicity of pecorino cheese, gleaming salt pans, locally caught fish and knee-high grapevines coexisting with the intricate mysteries of layers of civilisation from the Bronze Age nuraghi to colonisers from Phoenicia, Carthage, Rome, Spain and Genoa, all of whom left their mark on the island’s cuisine. A relaxing exploration of a little-known corner of Sardinia and its warm, open-hearted people. Really small group: 8 people.

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Itinerary at a glance

Day 1 — Arrival at Cagliari and transfer to agriturismo at Sant’Antioco (southwest Sardinia), welcome dinner

Day 2 — Introduction to tour, lunch at agriturismo, guided tour of town of Sant’Antioco, grand opening of 659th Festa of Sant’Antioco with the decorated bread offering

Day 3 — Historical re-enactment, horse parade, folk groups from all Sardinia, theatre in the piazza, traditional food

Day 4 — Learn to make elaborately decorated ritual bread; more processions with decorated carts and musicians playing the launeddas (flute-bagpipe originating in neolithic times), folk dancing and fireworks

Day 5 — Visit shepherd to make pecorino; guided tour of bronze age nuraghi and giants’ tomb

Day 6 — A day at sea in a fishing boat, fishing, swimming, lunch on boat (for landlubbers: a guided walk)

Day 7 — Excursion to Tratalias to visit artisan potter, weaver, knife maker, oil of lentisco (type of pistacchio)

Day 8 — Guided tour of salt pans; vineyard tour and tasting with enologist

Day 9 — Transfer to Cagliari, walking tour of old city, farewell dinner

Day 10 — Departure

Highlights of Tour

Gastronomic Experiences

  • Visit a shepherd and watch him make the famed pecorino sardo and ricotta
  • Where does sea salt come from? Guided tour of salt pans
  • Breakfast: traditional Sardinian treats baked by your hostess at agriturismo
  • What did grape vines look like before phylloxera? Guided tour and tasting with enologist
  • A day in a fishing boat helping to pull in the nets and learning what they catch
  • Lunch on fishing boat
  • Lesson making elaborately decorated ritual bread
  • Every day you eat in homes and family restaurants

Architecture, art, music, craft & sightseeing

  • Walking tour of Sant’Antioco
  • Tour with archaeologist of bronze age megalithic nuraghi Grutti Acqua and Giants’ Tomb
  • Folk culture of Sardinia: music, dance, costume
  • Visit workshops of craftspeople: knives, ceramics, textiles, plant extracts
  • From tombs to underground houses: the catacombs of Sant’Antioco
  • Visit the workshop of Chiara Vigo, weaver of bissus, the beard of a mollusc
  • Walking tour of Cagliari

Sant’Antioco

Day 1: Friday

Pick up at meeting point (Cagliari Elmas airport). One pick up only to coincide as nearly as possible with everyone’s arrival time, aiming at around 2.30 or 3 pm. Transfer to Agriturismo Sa Ruscitta on the Island of Sant’Antioco, at the southwest corner of Sardinia. Welcome dinner at Sa Ruscitta.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: dinner

Day 2: Saturday

A lazy morning at Sa Ruscitta and introduction to tour. Lunch at Sa Ruscitta, after which our driver Massimo, always eager to please, takes us to town (also named Sant’Antioco) for the grand opening of the 659th Festa of Sant’Antioco, the patron saint of Sardinia. First Massimo will give us an orientation tour of his home town so later you can wander on your own if you like. Now the first of many processions, the pilgrimage and offering of ‘Is coccois’, the elaborately decorated sacred bread. We fit in dinner before the evening’s entertainment in the piazzas of the town.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Sunday

This morning we arrive at the basilica (named Sant’Antioco, of course) for a clamorous historical re-enactment of ‘The Awakening of the City’ organised by the Giuseppe Verdi brass band of Sant’Antioco, founded in 1872. The day is filled with performances by folk groups from all over Sardinia, a parade of costumed skilled cavalieri performing spectacular feats on horseback, and theatrical performances in the piazzas of the town. Lunch and dinner in town.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Monday

It takes stamina to celebrate. We still have one more evening to go. But this morning we take a break to hone our sculpting skills making the finely decorated ritual bread. The culmination of the festival starts in the early evening with a procession of folk groups in local traditional costumes, horse riders, folk dancing, decorated ox carts and musicians playing the launeddas, a set of pipes originating thousands of years ago and resembling Northumbrian pipes without the bag. See what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qc6j2bAq8sU. A spectacular fireworks display brings the festival to a close.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Tuesday

After all that riotous celebrating we’ll be craving some peace and quiet. Most of the cheesemakers I know serenely contemplate their pot of milk contented to wait patiently for it to set. We visit a shepherd who makes the famed pecorino sardo to find out about the whole process from liquid milk to solid cheese, and the important ricotta made from the whey. Lunch will be a tasting of the cheese. A tranquil afternoon, too, at a bronze age nuraghe with an archaeologist. Dinner at a craft brewery: beer tasting and pizza.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Wednesday

Today we have the unique experience of living the life of a professional fisherman. Aboard the Pintus family boat, you follow the course of the dolphins along the coastline of Sulcis and the islands of Sant’Antioco and San Pietro. You’ll learn about the fish and the coast you’re passing and can participate in every aspect of laying and drawing up the nets and traps. You’ll feel the excitement and trepidation of discovering what emerges from the sea. You’ll be offered a fabulous lunch cooked on board from the day’s catch and during the break will be able to swim in the crystalline waters. If we’re very lucky, we might have a close encounter with a dolphin. (Landlubbers will have the option of a guided walk or the services of the driver.)

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Thursday

The old mediaeval town of Tratalias was abandoned due to unforeseen water seepage after a dam was built on the Rio Palmas in 1954. The new town, built on a slight rise, is perhaps the ugliest I’ve ever seen in Italy. Fortunately, the old town has been restored and an enterprising group of craftspeople have ingeniously inserted their workshops into the former houses. We will visit a weaver of linen and wool, a knife maker, a potter, a woman who makes the traditional painted shawls of Tratalias and two people who use wild aromatic plants to produce natural cosmetics and paintings. Among the extracts is oil of lentisco, a close relative of the pistacchio. The romanesque church is also worth a look-in. Lunch in a nearby agriturismo, after which we return to Sa Ruscitta for a restful late afternoon and dinner.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Friday

Salt is fundamental to our cooking and yet we hardly ever think about where it comes from and how it gets to our table. During our guided tour of the salt pans of Sant’Antioco all will be explained. The lagoon is also home to many birds including the stately flamingo. After lunch it’s time to find out about those shin-height Carignano vines we’ve been passing every day. Our enologist guide will uncloak the mystery, but here’s a hint: you’ll have the rare opportunity to taste what a pre-phylloxera wine might have been like.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Sant’Antioco to Cagliari

Day 9: Saturday

We pack our bags and bid farewell to Valeria and her husband at Sa Ruscitta and Massimo takes us to Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. Carla Sanjust’s ancestors were Spanish aristocrats who came to Cagliari when Spain conquered Sardinia in the 18th century. Cagliari is in her blood and she makes a knowledgeable guide to the historic centre of the city. Our farewell dinner takes place in the cool cavern of Sa Piola restaurant where Rossana and Giuseppe present us with a superb tasting menu based on local seasonal ingredients.

Accommodation: Il Gallo Bianco, Cagliari | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Sunday

After breakfast, transfer to Cagliari airport. One transfer will be provided no earlier than 9.00 am (allow 15 minutes to get to the airport plus check in and boarding time). If you need to travel earlier, a taxi can be arranged at your own expense (about €20).

 

Agriturismo Sa Ruscitta, Island of Sant’Antioco

Owner Valeria Lusci is at least the fourth generation of her family to farm the rolling hills at Sa Ruscitta. The gleaming white-washed buildings house spacious bedrooms and apartments, a communal sitting room and breakfast room where Valeria serves homemade bread and cakes. Wifi zone. Swimming pool is the sea nearby. On-site restaurant. Peaceful and relaxing. http://agriturismosaruscitta.com/

Sa Ruscitta

Erica Jarman

Following Heather’s careers as archaeologist, orchestra and artist manager and chef, she Italianised her name to Erica and came to Lucca to pursue her passion for traditional artisan food. Her tours, inspired by her infectious curiosity, open captivating new worlds to her guests.

Erica Jarman portrait square

Price

Per Person: 2590 Euros

Single Supplement: none

Includes

Friendly knowledgeable English-speaking guide throughout your stay

9 nights welcoming, relaxing accommodation, en suite bathrooms

Local ground transportation for 10 days (includes one group transfer between meeting point and accommodation and one return after the tour). Please check with us before you book your travel to make sure it fits the tour schedule. Transfers at times other than those provided for the group will be at your own expense.

Daily continental breakfast, 8 lunches, 8 dinners

Guided visits and workshops with artisans, entrance fees

Does Not Include

Airfares

Travel and cancellation insurance

Wine and drinks other than those served with meals, additional meals

Personal expenses

Meeting Points

Cagliari Elmas airport, Sardinia (there are low-cost flights to Cagliari airport from international hubs outside Italy and from Rome and Milan among others)

If you are flying from outside Europe, we suggest you arrive a couple of days early to recover from jet lag so you can fully enjoy your time with us. We are happy to advise about where to stay and eat and what to do before and after your tour.

Diet

Most dietary requirements can be accommodated as long as you tell us in advance. There is a space on the Booking Form for this information. Since menus are heavily fish-based, if you don’t eat fish, you may not get full enjoyment from the tour.

Physical Fitness

You must be fit enough to walk on steep streets and rough farm tracks.

Dress

Informal. Jeans or smart trousers are acceptable everywhere. Windbreaker / raincoat advisable. Comfortable walking shoes.

Weather in April / May

11–24°C/51–75˚F, precipitation 25 mm/1 in, can be windy

The Itinerary is subject to change if necessary due to weather or agricultural conditions or other events outside our control.

Thank you again for the wonderful trip to Sant’Antioco! It was great from so many perspectives. The people we spent time with—making cheese, going fishing, baking bread, doing ceramics—made it much more engaging. Culture, history, food, landscape, laughter and song—all beautiful.

Claudia Conlon, USA, Celebrating Sardinia, April 2017

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1 — Arrival at Cagliari and transfer to agriturismo at Sant’Antioco (southwest Sardinia), welcome dinner

Day 2 — Introduction to tour, lunch at agriturismo, guided tour of town of Sant’Antioco, grand opening of 659th Festa of Sant’Antioco with the decorated bread offering

Day 3 — Historical re-enactment, horse parade, folk groups from all Sardinia, theatre in the piazza, traditional food

Day 4 — Learn to make elaborately decorated ritual bread; more processions with decorated carts and musicians playing the launeddas (flute-bagpipe originating in neolithic times), folk dancing and fireworks

Day 5 — Visit shepherd to make pecorino; guided tour of bronze age nuraghi and giants’ tomb

Day 6 — A day at sea in a fishing boat, fishing, swimming, lunch on boat (for landlubbers: a guided walk)

Day 7 — Excursion to Tratalias to visit artisan potter, weaver, knife maker, oil of lentisco (type of pistacchio)

Day 8 — Guided tour of salt pans; vineyard tour and tasting with enologist

Day 9 — Transfer to Cagliari, walking tour of old city, farewell dinner

Day 10 — Departure

Highlights of Tour

Gastronomic Experiences

  • Visit a shepherd and watch him make the famed pecorino sardo and ricotta
  • Where does sea salt come from? Guided tour of salt pans
  • Breakfast: traditional Sardinian treats baked by your hostess at agriturismo
  • What did grape vines look like before phylloxera? Guided tour and tasting with enologist
  • A day in a fishing boat helping to pull in the nets and learning what they catch
  • Lunch on fishing boat
  • Lesson making elaborately decorated ritual bread
  • Every day you eat in homes and family restaurants

Architecture, art, music, craft & sightseeing

  • Walking tour of Sant’Antioco
  • Tour with archaeologist of bronze age megalithic nuraghi Grutti Acqua and Giants’ Tomb
  • Folk culture of Sardinia: music, dance, costume
  • Visit workshops of craftspeople: knives, ceramics, textiles, plant extracts
  • From tombs to underground houses: the catacombs of Sant’Antioco
  • Visit the workshop of Chiara Vigo, weaver of bissus, the beard of a mollusc
  • Walking tour of Cagliari

Sant’Antioco

Day 1: Friday

Pick up at meeting point (Cagliari Elmas airport). One pick up only to coincide as nearly as possible with everyone’s arrival time, aiming at around 2.30 or 3 pm. Transfer to Agriturismo Sa Ruscitta on the Island of Sant’Antioco, at the southwest corner of Sardinia. Welcome dinner at Sa Ruscitta.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: dinner

Day 2: Saturday

A lazy morning at Sa Ruscitta and introduction to tour. Lunch at Sa Ruscitta, after which our driver Massimo, always eager to please, takes us to town (also named Sant’Antioco) for the grand opening of the 659th Festa of Sant’Antioco, the patron saint of Sardinia. First Massimo will give us an orientation tour of his home town so later you can wander on your own if you like. Now the first of many processions, the pilgrimage and offering of ‘Is coccois’, the elaborately decorated sacred bread. We fit in dinner before the evening’s entertainment in the piazzas of the town.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Sunday

This morning we arrive at the basilica (named Sant’Antioco, of course) for a clamorous historical re-enactment of ‘The Awakening of the City’ organised by the Giuseppe Verdi brass band of Sant’Antioco, founded in 1872. The day is filled with performances by folk groups from all over Sardinia, a parade of costumed skilled cavalieri performing spectacular feats on horseback, and theatrical performances in the piazzas of the town. Lunch and dinner in town.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Monday

It takes stamina to celebrate. We still have one more evening to go. But this morning we take a break to hone our sculpting skills making the finely decorated ritual bread. The culmination of the festival starts in the early evening with a procession of folk groups in local traditional costumes, horse riders, folk dancing, decorated ox carts and musicians playing the launeddas, a set of pipes originating thousands of years ago and resembling Northumbrian pipes without the bag. See what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qc6j2bAq8sU. A spectacular fireworks display brings the festival to a close.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Tuesday

After all that riotous celebrating we’ll be craving some peace and quiet. Most of the cheesemakers I know serenely contemplate their pot of milk contented to wait patiently for it to set. We visit a shepherd who makes the famed pecorino sardo to find out about the whole process from liquid milk to solid cheese, and the important ricotta made from the whey. Lunch will be a tasting of the cheese. A tranquil afternoon, too, at a bronze age nuraghe with an archaeologist. Dinner at a craft brewery: beer tasting and pizza.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Wednesday

Today we have the unique experience of living the life of a professional fisherman. Aboard the Pintus family boat, you follow the course of the dolphins along the coastline of Sulcis and the islands of Sant’Antioco and San Pietro. You’ll learn about the fish and the coast you’re passing and can participate in every aspect of laying and drawing up the nets and traps. You’ll feel the excitement and trepidation of discovering what emerges from the sea. You’ll be offered a fabulous lunch cooked on board from the day’s catch and during the break will be able to swim in the crystalline waters. If we’re very lucky, we might have a close encounter with a dolphin. (Landlubbers will have the option of a guided walk or the services of the driver.)

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Thursday

The old mediaeval town of Tratalias was abandoned due to unforeseen water seepage after a dam was built on the Rio Palmas in 1954. The new town, built on a slight rise, is perhaps the ugliest I’ve ever seen in Italy. Fortunately, the old town has been restored and an enterprising group of craftspeople have ingeniously inserted their workshops into the former houses. We will visit a weaver of linen and wool, a knife maker, a potter, a woman who makes the traditional painted shawls of Tratalias and two people who use wild aromatic plants to produce natural cosmetics and paintings. Among the extracts is oil of lentisco, a close relative of the pistacchio. The romanesque church is also worth a look-in. Lunch in a nearby agriturismo, after which we return to Sa Ruscitta for a restful late afternoon and dinner.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Friday

Salt is fundamental to our cooking and yet we hardly ever think about where it comes from and how it gets to our table. During our guided tour of the salt pans of Sant’Antioco all will be explained. The lagoon is also home to many birds including the stately flamingo. After lunch it’s time to find out about those shin-height Carignano vines we’ve been passing every day. Our enologist guide will uncloak the mystery, but here’s a hint: you’ll have the rare opportunity to taste what a pre-phylloxera wine might have been like.

Accommodation: Sa Ruscitta, Sant’Antioco | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Sant’Antioco to Cagliari

Day 9: Saturday

We pack our bags and bid farewell to Valeria and her husband at Sa Ruscitta and Massimo takes us to Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. Carla Sanjust’s ancestors were Spanish aristocrats who came to Cagliari when Spain conquered Sardinia in the 18th century. Cagliari is in her blood and she makes a knowledgeable guide to the historic centre of the city. Our farewell dinner takes place in the cool cavern of Sa Piola restaurant where Rossana and Giuseppe present us with a superb tasting menu based on local seasonal ingredients.

Accommodation: Il Gallo Bianco, Cagliari | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Sunday

After breakfast, transfer to Cagliari airport. One transfer will be provided no earlier than 9.00 am (allow 15 minutes to get to the airport plus check in and boarding time). If you need to travel earlier, a taxi can be arranged at your own expense (about €20).

 

Agriturismo Sa Ruscitta, Island of Sant’Antioco

Owner Valeria Lusci is at least the fourth generation of her family to farm the rolling hills at Sa Ruscitta. The gleaming white-washed buildings house spacious bedrooms and apartments, a communal sitting room and breakfast room where Valeria serves homemade bread and cakes. Wifi zone. Swimming pool is the sea nearby. On-site restaurant. Peaceful and relaxing. http://agriturismosaruscitta.com/

Sa Ruscitta

Erica Jarman

Following Heather’s careers as archaeologist, orchestra and artist manager and chef, she Italianised her name to Erica and came to Lucca to pursue her passion for traditional artisan food. Her tours, inspired by her infectious curiosity, open captivating new worlds to her guests.

Erica Jarman portrait square

Price

Per Person: 2590 Euros

Single Supplement: none

Includes

Friendly knowledgeable English-speaking guide throughout your stay

9 nights welcoming, relaxing accommodation, en suite bathrooms

Local ground transportation for 10 days (includes one group transfer between meeting point and accommodation and one return after the tour). Please check with us before you book your travel to make sure it fits the tour schedule. Transfers at times other than those provided for the group will be at your own expense.

Daily continental breakfast, 8 lunches, 8 dinners

Guided visits and workshops with artisans, entrance fees

Does Not Include

Airfares

Travel and cancellation insurance

Wine and drinks other than those served with meals, additional meals

Personal expenses

Meeting Points

Cagliari Elmas airport, Sardinia (there are low-cost flights to Cagliari airport from international hubs outside Italy and from Rome and Milan among others)

If you are flying from outside Europe, we suggest you arrive a couple of days early to recover from jet lag so you can fully enjoy your time with us. We are happy to advise about where to stay and eat and what to do before and after your tour.

Diet

Most dietary requirements can be accommodated as long as you tell us in advance. There is a space on the Booking Form for this information. Since menus are heavily fish-based, if you don’t eat fish, you may not get full enjoyment from the tour.

Physical Fitness

You must be fit enough to walk on steep streets and rough farm tracks.

Dress

Informal. Jeans or smart trousers are acceptable everywhere. Windbreaker / raincoat advisable. Comfortable walking shoes.

Weather in April / May

11–24°C/51–75˚F, precipitation 25 mm/1 in, can be windy

The Itinerary is subject to change if necessary due to weather or agricultural conditions or other events outside our control.

Thank you again for the wonderful trip to Sant’Antioco! It was great from so many perspectives. The people we spent time with—making cheese, going fishing, baking bread, doing ceramics—made it much more engaging. Culture, history, food, landscape, laughter and song—all beautiful.

Claudia Conlon, USA, Celebrating Sardinia, April 2017