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MARTIN RANDALL TRAVEL LTD
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Sardinia - Archaeology, architecture & art

    • Includes the best of the island’s material culture, from Neolithic and Bronze Age, through Punic and Roman to mediaeval and Renaissance.
    • The unique Bronze Age nuraghi are a striking feature, as are Tuscan-style Romanesque churches and 16th-century Catalan altarpieces.
    • Led by Dr R T Cobianchi, expert art historian.
    • Wonderful mix of sites from the south to the north following the west coast of the island.
INTRODUCTION
Cagliari (Sardinia), Late 19th-century Engraving From 'Gazetteer Of The World' Vol II.
Cagliari (Sardinia), late 19th-century engraving from 'Gazetteer of the World' Vol II.

Despite being the second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia’s cultural treasures remain largely undiscovered by travellers. Its extraordinary jagged coastline and clear blue seas have earned it a deserved reputation for beach tourism, with villas and resorts clinging to the cliffs along the Costa Smeralda. Yet the wealth of prehistoric sites, Punic and Roman remains and Pisan-Romanesque churches make it a fascinating destination for those prepared to forego the luxury of the north-west coast and explore inland.

As with all the larger islands in the Mediterranean, Sardinia was plundered and settled by a succession of pirates and empire builders, though due in large part to its rugged and impenetrable landscape, Sardinian identity was never wholly extinguished. Her Bronze Age settlements truly set it apart. Deep gorges, craggy limestone and slate mountain ranges and swathes of verdant countryside hide over 7000 nuraghi, peculiar conical stone structures which were forts, palaces and simple domestic dwellings. Much is left to the imagination as little is known about these edifices, though digs are leading to some fascinating insights.

Evidence of Phoenician power on the island can be seen at Tharros on the west coast, established in the eighth century bc in a strategic position jutting into the sea in the Gulf of Oristano. Later colonized by the Romans, the site is a remarkable example of a coastal city-state. Finds can be seen in Sardinia’s superlative collection of archeological museums, in Cagliari, Sassari and Oristano.

The decline of the Roman Empire left Sardinia open to Goths, Lombards, for a short spell the Byzantines, and to the new Muslim empires of North Africa and Spain. The Pisans and Genoese in the eleventh century left an indelible mark on the island with their superb Romanesque churches in the Logudoro region, indeed some of the finest in Europe.

Rule by the Kingdom of Aragón brought a Spanish dimension to the island’s culture, most evident today in the Catalan-Gothic architecture of the fishing port at Alghero and, concealed in mediaeval churches in tiny villages the length of the island, sumptuous sixteenth-century retables which rival coeval ones on the Italian mainland.

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TESTIMONIALS
The meals were all excellent. I was impressed with the choice of menus, concentrating on local Sardinian specialities.
Always a pleasure to travel with the very knowledgeable and helpfully considerate lecturer
The tour manager upheld the MRT standard; she was ever kind and helpful, very easy to get on with and managed to maintain an air of calm when faces with difficulties
The choice of itinerary was good – we saw some impressive ruins and some good early art in the Romanesque Churches
I will recommend this holiday to friends I know have relevant interests. Many thanks to MRT for giving us such a wonderful holiday

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