Monday, April 25, 2011

In Jerzu, for the "Festival dei Tacchi"

This is a guest post from Damiano of Turismo Sardegna, travel agency from my hometown. I've rarely hosted guest posts on my blog, I do only when I feel the article is in line with the purpose of the blog itself. And of course, after all I've written about my hometown, anything from Sardinia is more than welcome here.

Sardinia is a land full of history, culture, food, nature and dialects different from the rest of Italy.

But for most people, Sardinia is just an island of beautiful beaches and colourful waters, with delicious culinary and wine traditions and where sometimes traditional fairs and religious celebrations, such as the Sagra of Saint Efisio in Cagliari, take place.

However, Sardinia is also a land of music and theatre festivals which, every year, bring international artists from all over the world to this idyllic sunny corner of paradise.

Our journey made of music and theatre starts in Ogliastra. On Sardinia's eastern coast, it is the territory of the Cannonau vineyards, a land that you can also enjoy exploring or undertake some hiking between the coast and the mountains.

At the beginning of August, Jerzu, Ulassai and the Tacchi mountains will hold an international theatre festival called Festival dei Tacchi.

During these days, Jerzu (the main village) also celebrates the Cannonau (together with Vermentino, Malvasia, Monica and the Carignano, one of the most famous grapes in the island), an excellent, full-bodied red wine.

For a smart traveller with a hearty appetite, this is a great opportunity to enjoy wines, local gastronomy, music and theatre in the unspoilt nature of the Ogliastra.

Ulassai's canyon is also regarded as one of Sardinia's best free climbing sites.

Finally Arbatax (35 km away from Jerzu) is worth a visit for the typical red rocks.


The festival is called “The Tacchi Festival”, because it takes place in the area of the "Tacchi", a limestone formation which looks like upturned shoe heels, namely “tacchi” in Italian.

I could enjoy this festival several times, and sometimes I was even involved in its organisation, which was a truly great experience. Going to Ogliastra during the “Tacchi Festival” means intense days of discovering the surroundings.

On the morning, explore the coastal area around Jerzu. After a quick shower, just go for a stroll around the city centre of Jerzu or Ulassai in the wait for the next shows to come...
Please, when wandering about theses cities, do not miss the opportunity to taste the typical street food of Ogliastra, such as Coccoi Prena and Coccoi 'e tamata; and if you can afford it, treat yourself to a typical succulent dinner at the “Da Concetta” restaurant.

Interestingly, during the past ten editions, almost all the best actors and theatre companies have been involved in this festival. The best thing about it? Almost all the people involved in the event live in the area so, if you are lucky enough, you will have the chance to have with the actors, musicians or journalists. If you are not that lucky, just attend seminars, workshops and theatre sessions where you will be in touch with them!


Every year, at the same time, the city of Jerzu also hosts a great wine festival. Jerzu is in fact the "capital" of the Cannonau red wine district, Sardinia's most popular wine. The Cannonau wine festival mainly features wine and traditional Ogliastra food tasting in about twenty small “garage” wineries, as well as seminars, concerts and arts and crafts.

During the event, a lot of wineries will be open till late, offering wine and a great variety of local recipes to visitors. This is the kind of street food festival where people, a glass of wine in one hand and a small plate full of food in the other, will be walking up and down the main streets... getting increasingly happy thanks to the wine!


Accommodation

Another great plus for travellers who decide to visit Ogliastra during the Tacchi Festival is that anyone can choose the accommodation they prefer.
Backpackers can camp for free in the beautiful San Antonio wood, at about 5 kilometres from Jerzu.
However, budget hotels are widely available in Jerzu or Ulassai and it is also possible to rent a small apartment for the festival.

Travel to Ogliastra

By Ferry. There are different routes available from Italy mainland to reach Sardinia and the closest to Jerzu and Ulassai is with Tirrenia Ferries that offer great deals and promotions on Arbatax.
By plane. Cagliari, Alghero and Olbia are regularly served by low cost airlines.

Resources:

Ogliastra Province Touristic Office. Website in English: http://www.turismo.ogliastra.it/English/

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

News and projects, the more I travel the more confused I am

I thought traveling was going to make things clear for me. In what sense? Well, at least in the sense of where I want to settle, eventually.

It seems like it's not the case, the more I travel, the less I know where to stop. I came to China for six months, I'm in the middle of my second semester,and already thinking about renewing my visa for the second time.

Is it China? Yes, it's China. The Red Dragon, after making me almost run away, now doesn't want to let me go. Is it only China? No, it's not. It's East Asia.

So far I've only traveled around China and India, but I'm planning to visit more countries of this fascinating region of the planet.

What is East Asia doing to me? Hard to say, but here I feel inspired, tireless, creative. I know I have been pretty silent on this blog, but I'm regularly updating my new site Chasing The Unexpected with my new travels, while Travel Calling will still be the place for the quirky aspects of my life as an expat, and, I have to say, East Asia offers invaluable "quirky" angles.

I, of course, am trying to understand myself why I'm finding East Asia so intriguing, maybe the simple lifestyle, maybe just the challenge of living (and traveling) in such a different society from the one I was used to, and probably even studying Mandarin, incredibly hard and beautiful language, all things that are contributing in making this experience much more charming than I expected.

It's probably not a mystery by now, but I have no intention of going back to Europe (yes, of course I'm going to see my family and friends, I didn't become crazy with all this inspiration!). I still don't know how I'll sort out the legal stuff, but as I'm gradually sensing here, in China everything is possible.
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