Sant Antioco is the larger of the two islands of the southwest coast of Sardinia. We visited the town of Sant Antioco. Yachts don’t as a rule go down here (so of course, we did!) as it’s a very narrow, shallow channel but it is marked with buoys. At one point we went aground (our draft is 1.1m) but that was due to the fact that the port buoy (that’s the red one and should be to the left) we realised we had to leave to starboard (that’s to the righthand side). There were a lot of windsurfers about on this particular day and one of the locals took pity on us and told us to follow him around this particular section. You could see the sandbanks, and there were a lot of them. I was all for going back to deeper water, but no, we are from the East Coast of England, we are used to this, I was told. It was, I have to admit, worth it when we got there, very picturesque. It was very sheltered and we anchored in 1.5m of water. Just a few hundred yards away though there was a guy walking in the water only up to his knees. The local were very friendly the fishermen gave us an enthusiastic wave each time they passed us.
It was a very small town but surprisingly there was more to see than the usual church. We went off in search of the Villaggio Ipogeo which are cavernous tombs which were taken over by the islanders in the middle ages and were lived in until the 1930’s.
We followed the directions on the map, but only came to the Fort Sabaudo which was locked. I was sure that it didn’t shut in the middle of the day. We eventually found the ticket office. We paid for our tickets to three venues, the Villaggio Ipogeo, Fort Sabaudo and the Ethnographical museum. We were told “uno momento”, not quite sure what we were waiting for, after five minutes one of the ladies from the office took us and one other couple off down the street. We came to a gate which the lady unlocked and in we all went to the Villaggio Ipogeo. The village had been dug by the Carthaginians since the 6th century BC to create tombs to bury their dead. It is calculated that there were more than 1500 underground tombs here.
Then we leave the village, the lady locks the gate up and off we wander along a couple more streets to the Fort Sabaudo, where she again unlocks the gate and in we go. Fort Sabaudo, which is known locally as “su pisa” started construction in 1812 and was completed in 1815.
Once we had finished looking around here, the gate was locked up behind us and we are taken through several streets back to the ticket office which is where the Ethnographical museum is situated. Again the door was unlocked and in we go. The museum contains objects that were used in the 19th century.
Looking across to the quayside I can see some banners flying and a blow-up arch, then lots of shouting in English. People were coming through on bikes. Hmm something is going on, so good old Google again and it transpired that it was the “Virgin Strive Challenge” which started in Cagliari and their first stop was the town of Sant Antioco on the island of Sant Antioco which is joined to the mainland of Sardinia by a bridge. The challenge is in five stages and finishes at the summit of Mont Blanc. Amongst the participants was Richard Branson himself, his son Sam and daughter Holly who are part of the Core Team and will be joined by up to 200 stage participants. The Big Change Charity is raising money through The Strive Challenge for projects working with young people to thrive in life. Wandering around town in the evening the group were having dinner at a local restaurant.
We were due to leave Sant Antioco on Sunday 2nd September but we’d heard our Cartagena neighbours on Arctic Fern were heading across from Menorca to Callasetta on the north of island, so we decided to stay another day and meet up with them the following day. we were so glad we did. As with most events we have discovered along our trip, it’s normally been by seeing people or boats starting to gather. Earlier that morning one of the small motor boats alongside us had come along and put some bunting on his boat, I rightly or wrongly assumed this was to keep the birds off his boat, as there are a lot of them. Off he went and then about 5 o’clock he appeared again along with some other people and motored off. Then another boat appeared. Couldn’t find anything on Google so out came the binoculars and I could see further into town there were crowds gathered. Not wanting to miss the action we jumped in the dinghy and off we went to see what the commotion was. It transpired it was a procession for Santa Maria. We stood about waiting with the rest of the crowd for the effigy of the Virgin Mary and baby to arrive, which was by boat, as is the case with a lot of these festivals.
The start of the parade was waiting ahead of us, so we decided to get to the beginning so we could see all of it. Now Ian has taken to walking slower than a snail, which means I have to keep stopping as it’s really hard to walk that slow! Today he was a man possessed and he was faster than a hare and I struggled to keep up with him.
Once the parade had finished we decided to get something to eat. I decided to have a pizza, which was enormous and really would be sufficient for two, but I struggled through. We then wandered back into the main square and there was a jazz band playing just to finish the evening off.
The following day we headed off for the short journey to Callasetta.