The ancient city of Alghero gleamed in the early morning light. Its massive sandstone walls and 15th century defensive towers loom protectively over the historic city. Evidence of its dominion by Spanish Catalans is present everywhere, from dual-language street signs to the actual speech of the people who speak Sardinian instead of Italian.

Our first visit was to the remarkable stone age site of Nuragi Primavera. The Nuragic civilization, unique to Sardinia, constructed at least 8,000 stone towers and surrounding circular homes throughout the island, beginning about 2000 BCE. The precise purpose of these towers remains uncertain – they may have been lookout towers, defensive monuments, liturgical and cultic centers, or reserved for a high-status individual and family. We took a walking tour of the old city, which is essentially a late medieval city marked by a lovely Gothic cathedral.

After lunch, we visited the organic vineyard and olive orchard of Ledà. There we were taught the differences between the major wines of Sardinia and the precise processes that go into producing “extra virgin” olive oil. We were able to sample each of the wines with a variety of pecorino cheeses and wonderful olive oil.