Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thursday 20 October Visit to a mine - Cagliari

We had a later start this morning and left on the bus for the San Giovanni Mine and the Grotta de Santa Barbara. Kitted out with hair covering and hard hats, we rode a mine train into the mine and then took a lift up to a higher level, up a spiral staircase and into the Grotta which was discovered during the mining process. The mine is not open any more but they have a number of tourists to visit the caves which are spectacular. There are some large formations which are well lighted without adding colours so we were seeing the natural formations. The elephant ear or sail formations were very impressive. The number of visitors is controlled to ensure that the temperature and humidity is correctly maintained so as to keep the formations in good condition and allowing them to continue to grow.

The bus then took us into Monteponi Mine where there was a very good self-service restaurant which was not ready for such a large party so we had to wait while some more pasta was prepared. For 10 euros we had pasta, a meat course, dessert/fruit and a drink (beer/wine/soft drink or water.) It was a good job that we ate where we did because the station at Carbonia is set in the middle of wasteland with very little around. The original station is a short way up the line and is little used

It was then a race against time to get to the station at Carbonia. We arrived with two minutes to spare and then the train left 5 minutes late while they played with a difficult door.
1510 Carbonia to Villamassergia (loco and coaches)
1530 Villamassergia to Inglesias (diesel unit)
1554 Inglesias to Cagliari (loco and coaches)
The ride was nothing special and there were some delays because of the single track but we arrived back in Cagliari and I walked back to the hotel searching for restaurants. I walked through a small park just off Via Roma and was surprised to see that it was filled with middle aged women sitting around and talking animatedly. For some reason only these women congregated here and there was no sign of the men or the families with small children.

Mary took the cultural option after lunch which consisted of a guided tour of the city. The guide recommended a restaurant serving local food and we went to it for dinner. It was amazing. There was a choice of six menus, each one progressively larger and we chose Menu No. 2 which had just antipasti, pasta, dessert and coffee. The chef decided what would be in our courses.

They put a litre jug of red wine and a litre of water on the table along with a basket of bread.
The Antipasti consisted of:
  • a large tray containing boiled onion, olives, roasted red pepper, roasted zucchini and lightly boiled carrots.
  • A plate of tripe
  • A plate of snails in sauce
  • A plate of meat balls in sauce
  • A tray covered with crisp bread on top of which was salami, prosciutto, soft and hard cheese.
The pasta consisted of ravioli stuffed with potato and/or cheese and small pasta in a tomato sauce.
The dessert course consisted of:
  • a plate of melon, pineapple, grapes and pomegranate
  • a plate of six pastries
  • a glass each of semi-sweet moscato wine
This, with the coffee, wine etc. came to 20 euros each. The cash tried to charge us 22 euros as is common in Spain and Italy but they quickly adjusted it when the mistake was pointed out.

The restaurant was nicely decorated and beside several from our group the place began to fill up with locals around 2000 and was pretty full when we left. There were several tables of six and more, all enjoying the food. One lady called the waiter over and holding out a plate of tripe, asked him what it was. He told her and she then tucked in to it. This was an excellent way to end the day. It was a good job that we had not decided on a more extensive menu!

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