In April, Sardinia, island which characteristic is to have very different landscapes, welcomed the European Association of Retired people from Saving Banks. We were impressed by the huge rocks, the long beaches with their bays and fjords, the grass and green forests.
With a big emotion we listened to our Vicepresident Chretien's speech, because he told us about the hard and successful fight against a horrible disease that suffered our dear President Pepe López.
“Dear Pepe, your opened and nice character will always stay in our memories.”
Moreover, we are missing our esteemed Honour President Pepe Lidón who warmly welcomed the German group 17 years ago.
We are sad and we remember our friends with a lot of affection.
Mister Chretien has all our respect and gratitude. We admire how him and his marvellous team of Alicante try to fill the hollow with big efforts. We hope him a lot of success and we hope to continue during a long time a good friendship relation with the Association, because we thing there is still a lot of work we have to do together.
An important aspect is the intergenerational solidarity. It has to be promoted by each and every mean. The negative image of the elderly has to change. The elderly have to be accepted as another part of our society. A lot of them are ready to help and support the youngest. Moreover, it should be obvious to honour the elderly.
The topic of this year's General Assembly was the situation of the European pensions. Through the different representatives' speeches, we learned about the big differences in the European countries. Lots of debates will still be needed to overcome this task.
During that week we stayed at the Hotel Geo Village, situated near the centre of Olbia, the biggest city of Gallera's province, in the North of Sardinia.
Our first excursion with our tourist guide Tiziano, who described us very well his native Sardinian earth, was the visit of the Costa Smeralda. It was a sunny day and during the trip we could see the numerous flourishing mimosas.
At the beginning of the 60's, the emir Aga Khan, wealthy and religious leader of the Muslims, discovered the unknown until then region which characteristics was its rough coasts and its crystal clear water beaches. With the Sardinian government's help, an investor group and an architect group changed the beautiful landscapes in a perfect summer paradise for the wealthy people. Unfortunately, the high society only lives in the Costa Smeralda during more or less four months. During these four months, most of the luxury shops are opened, and in the sports harbours, exclusive pubs and restaurants there is a lot of life. Most of the cities are dead during the rest of the year and therefore, they look like village museums. During the low season, there is only 200 people living in Porto Cervo, people working as gardeners, security personnel and domestic assistance. In the 60's, thanks to the generous donations, the Stella Maris church was built in a Sardinia style. The pews are made with old juniper's wood, the baptismal bowls are huge shells from Polynesia. The small organ comes from Nepal, but the best is the El Greco's painting Mater Dolorosa situated on the altar. There is a legend that explains how the church got to that donation. A girl from the Casa Thyssen was very ill. Her mother promised that if her daughter was cured, she would offer the valuable El Greco's painting to Porto Cervo's church. The miracle took place and Aga Khan and the priest could receive the valuable present.
In the South of Porto Cervo, in the street Di Volpe, there is a luxury hotel with the same name. It is a big complex with a fishing village aspect. Moreover, it has its proper little sports harbour. There are accesses to the beaches from each sides of the hotel, too.
Our trip continued along the coast, we discovered granitic landscapes, damp areas and lagoons. Most of the houses in Sardinia were built until recently with granite. Nowadays there are only more or less twenty granite quarries on the island.
In the street de la Soledad, we discovered mountain landscapes and forests of cork oak until Nuoro, a village in the mountain. Sardinia produces two thirds of the Italian cork oak. Nuoro achieved a world fame thanks to Grazia Deledda who was born in that locality in 1871 and who is the only Italian woman to have obtained a literature Nobel Prize. She wrote novels that exclusively talked about Sardinian topics.
We visited the Ethnological Museum, situated on the small mountain of Sant’Onofrio. In that museum we could observe Sardinian houses rebuild around two inside courtyards. In a big crystal showcase some valuable Sardinian dresses with lots of embroidery are exposed. Next to them are exposed Carnival dresses made with sheep leather or the frightening wooden masks that the shepherds of the other villages put on their heads for that occasion.
After the “abundant and nice” meal in the Monte Spada, we continued travelling with beautiful mountain landscapes of the Supramonte until Orgosolo, in the old days considered as the crooks centre. The street is 1.19 miles long and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. It was stormed for the first time in 1998, as the government didn't have any interest to explode that place. Nowadays, Orgosolo still looks like a oppressed town, and if it didn't have its famous murals it would not be interesting. In almost every house there is a mural, a way to condemn the global, politic and social injustices, and the tutelage from the Italian government.
Palau, fishing and ferry place, was the city from where people went to La Maddalena's archipelago. The seven islands, with their numerous reels and rocks, are remains of an isthmus submerged since millions of years between Corsica and Sardinia. In such a beautiful day, we could go with the ferry to La Maddalena, the only island of the archipelago where there is still people living. The Panoramic Strada, with almost closed curve shapes, meanders in a peculiar coastal landscape with its little and pictorial bays, and the rough granite rocks that throw a pink color to the sun. By the Passo della Moneta, dike of about 656 yards long, we went to the island of Caprera. This island is 6 miles² and is formed with granite, and moreover it is covered with big pines and scented herbs. The wild beauty moved Giuseppe Garibaldi, who lived there during the second half of this life. The Italians honor so much their freedom warrior that they declared the island's Garibaldi House as a national monument and, therefore, it can be visited as a museum. In the first courtyard, there is a centenarian pine that Garibaldi planted when one of this daughters was born. A commemorative sheet reminds of his horse Marsala with whom he went to a crusade. His military merits did that Garibaldi was a national hero of Risorgimento for the fight for the Italian independence. Inside the house we can find wheelchairs of his as he suffered from degenerative osteoarthritis. After crossing the kitchen and the office, there is the bed in which he died the 2th of June 1882. A paved path in the garden goes to the family grave. Inside, lies Garibaldi in a granite sarcophagus. Next to him are buried five of his eight children and his third wife Francesca.
The next day we went to the Ribera del Corral, in the west of the island, until getting to Alghero. The ground of this region is very stony and limy, and that is very good for the olives and whine production. We went through big grapevine cultivation that are use the Vermentino. This white wine is, as the red wine Canonau, one of the most famous of Sardinia.
Our visit of Alghero began in the harbour. The intact old quarter stands, protected by old defensive city walls and medieval towers, on a peninsula until the sea. At each step we could see impressive signs of Catalan architecture. Moreover, deeply-rooted citizens continue talking in Catalan and even the signs are in two languages, Italian and Catalan. This particularity comes from the city's history, that had a very close tie with Aragón during a lot of centuries. Alghero plays an international paper as coral city. In fact, there are plenty of jeweller’s and most of them offer the famous red brilliant piece of jewellery. Nevertheless, the jeweller’s can not use Capo Caccia's coral for these pieces of jewellery because the corals have been a protected species for more than twenty years. Through the arch Porta a Mare we could enter the Piazza Civica, full of first quality overseas shops, jeweller’s, imitation jewellery and souvenir shops. At the end of the Piazza, the classic facade of the Cathedral Santa María rises with its four pillars sustained by Portikus. The bell tower, with its characteristic pyramid tip and covered by glazed tile, is a famous monument of the city. The cathedral's jewel is the high altar in marble in the Apsis.
In a plain, at 5 miles from the North of Alghero, there is the Anghelu Ruju necropolis (3000-2000 before Christ). In 1905, 37 graves were found in its rocky ground.
In the wild channel next to Arzachena, there are lots of interesting archaeological graves and rests of a civilization from the nuraghes period to visit. The megalithic rocks of the collective graves of Coddu Vecchiu, made near 2000 before Christ, are so big that in the popular language they are called Tombe dei Giganti, giants graves. A little door in the most important places represents the way from this world to the other.
In the North of Sardinia, on a rocky ill summit, is situated the beautiful city Castelsardo. The old quarter offer a special sight. The little houses, guarded by a ruin, are on the South slope of a big steep rocky column of 374 feet tall. We went up to the historical center with its narrow and paved alleys and its large stairs. In a mountain spur that goes to the sea, we can discover the cathedral San Antonio Abate, built in the XIIth century and furnished with important paintings. Moreover, before going to the Sardinian restaurant “Masia” to have meal, we enjoyed the spectacular sight that goes from the Bonifacio's Strait to the neighbouring island Corsica.
After the meal, we went to Sassari. The university city, the second most important Sardinian city after Cagliari, is situated on a limestone plateau in middle of gardens and vast olive groves. We went for a walk between the Giardino Publico and the Piazza Italia in which we found a monument of Vittorio Emanuele II. In the North-East of the square begins the old quarter with its bourgeois houses frome the XIXth century and its palaces in a gothic Catalan style. In the Viccolo of the Campanile rises the cathedral's choral from which we can enter the Piazza Duomo across narrow paths. In this square we discovered the Cathedral San Nicolas. Its lime facade with a baroque and very decorated style shows a abundance of little towers, niches, angel statues and climbing plants. In the niches, Saint Nicolas and the three patron saints hold a wake over for the good of the city.
The famous goodbye party of the 17th Euromeeting in the hotel's big lounge finished in a harmonious and friendly environment. The German group thanks all the organizers. In fact, despite the sad events, they have done that this Euromeeting has been a success. We also want to thank the Halcón Viajes team, and most specially Amparo who was always nice and calm. Moreover, we would like to thank Antonio Orts, the man for all the cases. Arrevederci and goodbye, see you next year in the lands of our Portuguese friends.