Isola di Sant’Antioco to Cagliari - Springtime Spin in Sardinia 2019 - CycleBlaze

June 10, 2019

Isola di Sant’Antioco to Cagliari

As we were perusing our maps last night, we hatched a brilliant plan: we would take the train to Cagliari and spend our last two nights there. Our pre-planned route would have taken us around the southwest corner of Sardinia and ended at Pula, where we would have to take a bus to Cagliari. Apparently the traffic and industrial development beyond Pula makes riding there quite unsafe and unpleasant so that was never part of our itinerary. Considering we’d have to take public transit to get to Cagliari anyway, having more time to explore it was very appealing. 

Next question: how could we get to Cagliari? The train service in Sardinia is limited to the larger centres and as such, we haven’t seen any trains but I spied with my little eyes a thin black line with a little rectangle on the map in Carbonia. Bingo...the train tracks begin/end in Carbonia and it’s only 20k away! A quick check in the Rome to Rio app told me the train leaves at 11:10 tomorrow and we could be in Cagliari by 2:00pm. Excellentè!

Ah hah! I see a train station in Carbonia.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Antonio and Mariangela served us breakfast in their downstairs dining room. It was comparatively spartan but they were such a nice couple and wanted so badly to please us that it more than ticked all the boxes. We had a fresh fruit salad (a first), yogurt, a fresh marmelatta croissant, 2 slices each of cheese and green olive mortadella and hot steamed milk with sniff of coffee (cappucino). The packaged options were also presented, but we always take a pass on these (dried toasts, ‘twinkies’ and the like).

We packed up our gear and carried our bikes and panniers down the steep stairs to the street. We had a short photo session outside the B&B before pushing off for our last day of cycling.

Morning good-byes with B&B owner, Sant’Antioco.
Heart 1 Comment 0

We have been in Sardinia just long enough to pick up a few of the things that niggle at the locals (and don’t we all have them?) so the humour of this poster in the B&B gave me a little chuckle.

A fitting poster in the hallway of our Sant’Antioco B&B.
Heart 1 Comment 0

We cruised down to the lungomare and rode past the working boats for one last look. By now, some of the fishermen were selling their morning catch. Others were looking to make a catch from the shore, like this guy selling 3 hour cruises to fish and see the porpoises out by the volcanic islands (? Isola Vulcano is an awfully long way away).

Does a 3h tour on this boat look inviting to you? Morning or afternoon, just 35€ per person.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Octopus, fresh off the boat. Polpo is very popular in Sardinia, as seafood salad and deep fried as calamari.
Heart 1 Comment 0
I went to elementary school with an Antonietta. I wonder now how her Italian family came to be living in our neighbourhood.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The skies were heavy again today. A good thunder shower would clear it out but so far, nothing like that is in the forecast. It made for some nice photos like this one as the morning sun pierced the clouds.

Morning reflections in the harbour.
Heart 4 Comment 0

The Isola Sant’Antioco is connected to the mainland via a small bridge and a causeway that the Romans built in 238 BC. We left town, crossed the bridge and were soon on the SS126 and traversing to the mainland via the causeway. Before long, we noticed that a fairly new two lane cycle path was paralleling the highway. We are usually suspect of cycle paths for one reason or another (surface is poor and/or covered in broken glass, driveways and streets criss-cross them, parked cars, etc.)  but this one looked great. The only trouble was the entrance was poorly signed and once we were on the highway there was no way to access it. A guardrail and a large overgrown ditch kept us apart. The traffic was light so our only motivation was that it looked as though it was surfaced with a rubberized track material. We rode on until we reached an access point, then deked off the highway to enjoy the low friction surface. As you can see, the path needed a good haircut. Something told me that won’t be happening any time soon.

Looking back on the cycle path. The weeds were taking over this beautiful path.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Then, out of the blue, this happened. We could only laugh at the sign announcing the end of the cycle path. You don’t say?! I have to give them points for the effort, right? I was tempted to jump the barrier and the ditch with my bike but the thought of critters lurking in the grass kept me back-tracking the half kilometre to the last access point.

This bike path paralleled the highway out of Sant’Antioco. We didn’t see any signs of its existence at the start and we sure didn’t expect it to end so abruptly in the weeds. It was half a km back to the last exit point.
Heart 2 Comment 1
Rachael AndersonHow frustrating! We had the same issue multiple times in Southern Italy. By the way, it’s good to see a post from you again. We were worried.
Reply to this comment
2 years ago
Looking across to Sant’Antioco. Humidity and heavy skies blanketed the region.
Heart 0 Comment 0

We left the highway at the end of the causeway and threaded our way to Carbonia through a network of small country roads. The traffic became thick and slow as we entered the outskirts of the city. I had a sense we were close to the train station based in the maps I was following but there was no signage on the most likely building, an ultra modern concrete structure. We ventured ahead in the heavy traffic and went into a building (with our bikes) that looked somewhat promising but quickly realized this was no train station when we saw and heard the wailing babies and children waiting in the large hallway. We were in a pediatric clinic. Oooops! Back to the modern concrete building we went, and sure enough, there was a long ramp to the train station behind and below the nameless concrete façade. There was no sign for the ticket office, nor any ticket machines so we went into the cafe to inquire about the train.  Si! She happily sold us tickets to Cagliari on the next train, departing in 30 minutes, but we would have to change trains half way through the trip. 

We hopped on the train with our bikes and sat on the jump seats to keep an eye on them. The train stopped at its final destination, a modern station in the middle of the wilderness (ok, it was more like a big pasture) and we exited to the platform. Everyone else from the train disappeared. We made our way to platform 1 to wait for the train to Cagliari, hoping all the while it would accept bicycles. Our hopes sank when a single car rolled up, right on schedule, absolutely packed to the gills. Undaunted, we dove into the melee with our loaded bikes. The other (standing) passengers made way for us. Then the conductor squeezed through, took one look at us, and ordered us off the train. What happened next will stick with us for a long time. The passengers went to bat for us!  They were clearly upset and one young fellow apologized shouting out to us that he was ashamed. A young woman shrugged her arms to say she had tried but felt the same way. Wow, that was not expected.

We ended up driving the station attendant/bartender/barista crazy for the next two hours. What can I say? We were bored...it was our only entertainment. He spoke no english and wasn’t terribly interested in trying to understand us as we inquired about the posted schedule for the next train. It turns out that we were to ignore the posted schedule and use the one in the ticket machine which we didn’t need to use because we already had our tickets. He was dubious at first when we pointed out that the scheduled train did not show up (cheeky of us, I know) but then he apologized. Eventually, a modern train arrived with an engine and one car so we hopped on and were whisked into Cagliari.

We hopped on the train in Carbonia to get back to Cagliari.
Heart 1 Comment 0

The train station is located in the throbbing heart of Cagliari, near the port. We are now in tourist season and the pace has definitely picked up since we were here one month ago. Then, we were relieved to have a ride to our B&B as we felt like we were diving head first into traffic chaos. Today, we simply looked up the address of our B&B on the Guru map app and set off riding to the B&B over the enormous stone cobbles. We are definitely well seasoned!

We took this picture of the outside of the B&B to show a typical building. The small door beside the Xirne clothing store leads up a long narrow stone staircase to the 3 rooms and kitchen of the B&B. This B&B actually had a sign, way up on high, but often you will just find a buzzer beside the door with the B&B’s name. 

Heart 0 Comment 0

This B&B had an absentee owner so we had pre-arranged our arrival time and considering our train tango this morning, we were not far off the projected time. It was a bright fresh room and had a flat screen television mounted to the ancient wooden cross beam that held up the roof.

Chillaxing in our B&B, watching track and field from the comfy bed. The TV is mounted on the ceiling beam!
Heart 2 Comment 0

After a rest, it was time for a stroll and a beer or two with afternoon snacks. One of my favourite streets in all of Cagliari is Via San Giovanni in the Villanova neighbourhood. It is one of several parallel streets perched on the east side of the steep rocky hill in the old city. They are interconnected by short, steep alleys and stairs.  The houses on this narrow, ‘re-cobbled’ street are all 2 levels. Many residents adorn their entrances with potted plants. 

Via San Giovanni.
Heart 3 Comment 0

We sat in at a bar in a piazza near the B&B and planned our next meal while we nibbled on the complimentary snacks, green olives, potato chips, mini pizzas and sandwiches. 

We had chosen a couple of places to check out for dinner but it turned out they were both closed. We prefer not to do the research on foot, like it was done in the old days, but we found ourselves staggering around sniffing in doorways until 7:30. At last, we found Le Segrète. And so began one of the best meals of the trip.

We had a celebratory dinner outside under the stars at Le Segrete restaurant. It’s a gorgeous restaurant but no one wanted to have dinner inside on this warm evening.
Heart 1 Comment 0
A unique take on caprese salad.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Lamb, three ways.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Baked sea bream in cherry tomatoes. Absolutely delicious.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Tiramisu for David.
Heart 2 Comment 0
This is definitely not an egg. It was dessert. Fabulous in every way.
Heart 2 Comment 0

The restaurant was only steps away from our B&B, which turned out to be a very convenient because the wine had kicked in and we most certainly had a sway in our strides. 

So ended our second to last day in Cagliari. Tomorrow, David will disassemble and pack the bikes and we will take one last look at Cagliari.

Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 24 km (15 miles)
Total: 1,235 km (767 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Rachael AndersonWhat a great time with the trains. Glad you made it and had a wonderful last dinner!
Reply to this comment
2 years ago