Sardinia is an island in the Mediterranean sea so naturally, when I went there, I packed a bikini. Within five minutes of laying on the beach, I was ready to go back into a cafe. I realized pretty quickly that this would not be just a relaxing beach vacation. I chose to explore the Nuraghes in the region, which are the main types of buildings found in Sardinia.
Instead of going to the beach, I toured some of Sardinia’s archaeological sites. Although that may sound boring to some, I gained a greater appreciation for the opportunity I have to educate myself through travel. Sardinia has amazingly preserved remains- like the city of Tharros and the Nuraghe- that visitors are welcome to walk through. Sardinia, the Nuraghe and other archaeological finds are something Sardinians are proud of, and part of Sardinian culture. Francesca, my friend and local guide, told me, “My ancestors are the “nuragic” people. It is almost in our DNA. The Nuraghi are our symbols, something that you can’t find anywhere else. That’s why we are so keen to protect and to give a value to what remains from the people who lived in the island thousands of years ago.”
The Nuraghe date back to 750BCE. They were built without any glue and held together by strategically placing rocks. All of the rocks had to be carried by hand, which is why the rocks get gradually smaller towards the top of the Nuraghe. It’s a miracle that the people were able to build these structures with the limited tools and technology they had, and another miracle that these buildings are still preserved for visitors today. A lot of questions still surround these Nuraghi, like what their purpose was and why some of them are more destroyed than others.
While driving around Sardinia, there are Nuraghes everywhere (7,000 total) in various states of preservation. I had the privilege of visiting one at Losa and another at Santa Cristina, both of which were very well preserved. The Losa one had a main room with adjoining rooms, suspected to have been used for meetings. There was another room as well, and a staircase leading up to the top of the Nuraghe. Modern archaeologists and researchers are still unsure of their purpose. The main theories say they lit fires for communication with tribes and that they were also a status symbol for the village.
Of course, there were conquerors of the island that took parts of the Nuraghe and used them for their own purposes. I visited the tower of San Giovanni, which was built in the 16-17th century by the Spanish, partially from Nuraghic ruins. It was part of a series of towers in a coastal defense system protecting the coast from North African pirate raids. Aside from the historical significance, the tower of San Giovanni also offers an incredible view of the Gulf of Oristano.
Even though there is more known about the tower of San Giovanni than other Nuraghe, it is still difficult to imagine what life would have been like in that place and at that time- it is so far removed from what I experience today. Travelling to new places and learning more about them has only left with me with more questions.
Travelling does teach new things but we first have to be open to them, to get off the beach and make the effort to learn more about places. When we travel to places, it is important to have empathy; imagining what it is or was like to live in that place, even if it is hard to apply it to our own lives. By doing so, we connect on a deeper level than just physical whereabouts with the people and country of the place we travel to. Ultimately, your tan lines will fade, that souvenir you got will stop looking super cool, your friends will get tired of hearing you talk about your trip over and over again, and you will run out of #throwback pictures to post. So, take intangible things and be open to learning new ways and perspectives.