I already know that soon this place will feel like an illusion. The morning wake up call of the butcher shouting through his megaphone; the midnight ceremony by the fridge as we scavenge salami and cheese; the twists and turns of the mountain roads, and the black-clad widows nodding their good mornings. On our first day in Baunei we drive to the nearest beach, Santa Maria Navaresse, which lies on the edge of the valley. A swim, despite the distinct lack of sun, then a lunch of anchovy pizza with a potato crust and a huge tuna salad at the beach bar. We ask the waiter whether any shops are open on Sunday afternoons, he shrugs, and suggests that maybe – just maybe – we’ll be able to find one in Lotzorai. It is closing. I slip in and grab the basics: fonzies, cards, wine. At home, we play gin rummy and sip coffee as the storm rumbles overhead.
A valley opens up before us and we catch sight of the ocean at last. Three hours on the road, Alghero far behind us. We’re heading towards Baunei – a tiny mountain town on the east of the island. The wind picks up by the time we reach our little house in the hills. The weather has nothing to hide up here. It rumbles and shifts; the clouds bruised, battered and heavy. We walk into town for dinner, to a restaurant tucked away atop a bar. There are paper tablecloths and the wine is cheap (but as it turns out, a revelation). We eat culurgiones (potato and cheese stuffed dumplings) and pizza. The walk back home is silent, blissfully silent.
I lie in bed, listening to the sounds of Alghero (namely the very loud plumbing and the rumble of a mini tourist train crawling past our window). Yesterday I handed in my notice. In three weeks I’m moving to Verona to learn Italian, teach English and write. At home the idea seemed vaguely ridiculous, but here in Italy it makes perfect sense. It’s only for three months after all. We take to the road again, this time with some idea of where we’re heading. The journey to Bosa is almost as enchanting as the town itself; for an hour we follow a coastal road that carves a line between the cliff and the sea. The town is still. Nestled in the mountains, the only navigable river in Sardinia cuts straight through it. Painted houses stand in line with crumbling buildings, the sky falling through their roofs. Lunch by the water, a climb up to the town’s castle; the clouds shift and the sun settles into the ocean as we drive back. We find a Read More