Entry #8 May 21, 2011
As you can see, we had three completely different experiences today. We began early at Giovianna's small family-run flatbread bakery. Flatbread is a staple in Sardinia because the shepherds would take a large quantity with them into the mountains for their daily meals. The amazing thing about this bread is how long it stays fresh - up to 6 months! It keeps so long because there is no moisture in this crisp, paper thin bread. It is a yeast bread, but it is rolled flat and two pieces are joined at the edges for baking which is done in two steps. First, the flattened (with a rolling pin) dough is placed into the oven (fired with wood) until it puffs up in a ball. The ball is poked down, turned over, and then removed. After a short cooling period, the two pieces are cut apart with a knife and stacked. The final baking is done with the single ply thickness again in the same wood-fired oven. Giovianna is expert in timing the baking of both the first and second bakes. She has trained her daughters in the art and the three of them work as a smooth team, rolling, baking, cutting, stacking, re-baking, pressing flat after re-baking and adding olive oil and spices for a special flavor. They make the bread for local customers and sell a kilogram for 5 euros ($7.50), so it is probably comparable to the cost of artisan bread in the USA. We got to sample bread right out of the oven, before it crisped up (this happens very quickly!) and it was especially delicious.
Our next stop that morning was to one of the few Nuragic Villages. The nuraghes were built between the middle of the Bronze Age (18th-15th centuries BC) and the Late Bronze Age. Many were in continuous use from their erection until Rome entered Sardinia in the (2nd century BC).
According to Massimo Pallottino, a scholar of Sardinian prehistory and an Etruscologist, the architecture produced by the Nuargic civilization was the most advanced of any civilization in the western Mediterranean during this epoch, including those in the regions of Megna Graecia. Of the 8,000 extant nuraghes, only a few have been scientifically excavated. We were amazed to find actual bronze pieces still in the molds.
Lunch was in the mountain camp of a local shepherd. We had flatbread, cheese produced by the shepherd, sausage. tomatoes, and a suckling pig. The experience was like camping in the wild and we had the backaches (from the benches) to prove it. We returned to Su Gologone for our farewell dinner with Classic Journeys. We surprised Luciano with a custom-made coffee mug with pictures from the trip he led us on last September in Tuscany & the Cinque Terre.