Alghero is a fine resort city bounded by wonderful beaches and surrounded by historic sites. It’s been owned by many. In fact, a decent part of the population is descendant from Catalan conquerors who arrived towards the end of the Middle Ages, when Sardinia became part of the Crown of Aragon. There are enough of them who settled here that the Catalan language has been made co-official with Italian, as you’ll see reflected in the street signs. Speak Spanish and the good folks of Alghero can usually make a good stab at understanding you.
The city’s ramparts were first built by the Genovese in the 13th century and were restored and expanded by the Calalans and more recently by the Sardinians so that you can take a fine evening stroll, joining the Italian tourists in their passeggiata. If you don’t want to stroll, you might find a bar in which to have a calice of Alghero’s special sparkler called Torbato while watching the crowd pass by.
If all this seems fine for a good, laid-back vacation in Sardinia, we were absolutely ecstatic when we found out that Alghero’s central market was within a hop, skip, and long jump of our rented apartment, Claudia’s Home 2. After all, Cagliari’s market was spectacular.
Catalan is reflected in the market’s full name, Central Market La Boqueria. The day after pasquetta we made our little visit.
The market was looking a bit dismal. Perhaps, we thought, because the day before was Pasquetta or “little Easter” in which the main occupation is taking pleasure in the day off and eating quite a bit too much.
Only one fish vendor was seen, and the look on his face told everyone he didn’t expect to sell anything.
So we turned our attention to the vegetables and gawked at the snails bedded upon shredded strips of newspaper and sawdust. The vendor slowly unsrcrunched herself from her chair and ambled over. “Desidera qualcosa?” she asked. Her face fell when we said we needed time to look around.
We stopped to talk to a man who said the touted fish restaurant in the corner wasn’t as good as we were told it was.
Then we made it over to the butchers shop. The owner Miuccio gave my friend Walter Sanders of Simple Italy a sad account of the changing times. “People don’t want the things we used to eat. Families don’t sit around the table to eat minestrone. Everyone wants something different, like in a restaurant. One wants veal, one wants a big beafsteak. They go out. The market? Maybe it won’t last.”
The Moral of the Story
Travel. Deeply. The traditions of the past are moving swiftly towards the edge of consciousness. The traditional food of Alghero is tasty and fabulous. Try it at Trattoria La Saletta. It’s fabulous what they do with lamb intestines in the traditional dish called Cordula di Agnello.