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Villacidro
  An angle of paradise to two steps from the sea: Villacidro
 
  The land
 
Villacidro, a small town in the southwest of Sardinia, is 50 kilometers from Cagliari and lies between the plain of the Campidano and the Linas mountains. Situated nearly 900 feet above sea level, the townland has wonderful panoramic views and the opportunity for relaxing walks and a feast of local cuisine and culture. Villacidro is very interesting from the point of view of geology, fauna and flora. Its geological peculiarity is due to the presence of crystalline schists from the Paleozoic period and red granites dominate the landscape, with peaks reaching 3,700 feet at Punta Acqua Zinnigas. The area has some of the most important waterfalls in Sardinia, the most notable of which is Sa Spendula, which inspired the renowned Italian poet D'Annunzio when he visited the town in 1882.
 
There are two other spectacular waterfalls, Piscin'Irgas and Muru Mannu, with the later being the biggest in Sardinia at 230 feet high. The principal river, the Leni, flows down the mountain through the town into a clay-built dam, one of the largest artificial lakes on the island. The valleys and natural parks offer endless possibilities for itineraries on foot, by horse or by mountain bike. The Villascema Park is one of the most beautiful on Sardinia, shaded by a large oak wood and dissected by a stream. The San Sisinnio Park is home to the most impressive collection of thousand-year-old wild olives in Sardinia. These 'green monuments' majestically guard a rural church, named after the eponymous saint.
 
  NATURAL BEAUTY
 
Thick clumps of thyme, helicrysum and lavender perfume the countryside peaks. Inside the oak woods one can find heather, some beautiful samples of arbutus and, lower down the hills, fillirea, cistus, euphorbia arborescent and wild olives which combine in a wonderful splash of Mediterranean colour. Among the 45 plant species identified on the Linas massif is the rare Helicrysum Montelinasanum, which is unique to the area. If you are lucky you can also come across wild animals such as deer, foxes, wild cats and hedgehogs. Or you can admire the stately flight of the royal eagle that nests on the impregnable granite ridges.
 
  CUISINE AND FESTIVALS
 
In the town of Villacidro, the bond with ancient traditions is strong and through the year there are many feasts, festivals and religious rites which have passed down over the centuries. On New Year's Day, the ancient streets of the old centre explode into life for the celebration of the 'Trigu Cottu' (the cooked wheat), a peasant custom that centres on small bowls of cooked wheat, flavoured with sapa. The event is also a good occasion to taste the famous olive oil of Villacidro, splashed on toasted bread. Other gastronomic specialities include ricotta raviolis and wild fennel soup. Villacidro is also famous for the production of oranges, appreciated in the whole Sardinia for their quality. In February the streets of the town are imbued with the intense scent of para frittus and zippuas (zeppole), which are flavoured with a yellow spirit called Villacidro Murgia, which is made in the town. This spirit is also used it other local delicacies such as padruas (formagelle), made of ricotta cheese, saffron and orange peel. In May, richly decorated carts, full of the local produce, parade through the streets in honour of Sant'Isidoro, the patron saint of farmers. On the first Sunday of June, the cherry festival attracts many gourmands to Villacidro, in the mountain area of Villascema. The festival, very popular with Sardinians, is the highlight of the year for the growers of this delicious fruit.
 
In August, the inhabitants of Villacidro celebrate their beloved saint, San Sisinnio. The relics of the saint are brought to a rural church on the Friday preceding the event, accompanied by an impressive procession of thousands of devotees wearing traditional costume. The presence of mounted horses with armed escort celebrates ancient scuffles with inhabitants of the nearby town of Serramanna for possession of the holy relics. The main autumn festival is 'Premio Letterario Nazionale Giuseppe Dessì'. This event marks the memory of the author of Paese d'ombre and attracts the most famous personalities of the Italian literary world. The mountains are a natural habitat for game such as rabbits, hares and wild boars, which are often served for the Sunday meal in the town. Goats, sheep and pigs graze freely, feeding themselves on acorns which impart a succulent taste to their meat. As far as handicrafts are concerned, filigree jewels and rings are known throughout the island for their fine craftsmanship. The area also produces wooden and textile crafts, such as traditional baskets made of reed and asphodel, carpets and tapestries.
 
  STEEPED IN HISTORY
 
Villacidro contains some archaeological remains which point to settlement patterns dating back to the Neolithic period. In the fifteenth century, families lived in the old part of the town known as Rione Castangias. In the Spanish and Savoy periods, the town expanded rapidly and Villacidro became a provincial capital in 1807. The arhictecture hasn't changed much since that time, as evidenced by the streets, buildings, churches, squares and stairs and walls of the old centre in the high part of the town. This is the original nucleus of Villacidro, where most of the historical structures are concentrated.
 
  ITINERARIES
 
Villacidro offers a large variety of itineraries to suit active tourists. Walking in the very heart of the town, you sense its wonderful history when you pass the monuments, churches, private residences and the intimate museums. Don't miss the stately Liberty lavatoio (wash-house) built at the end of the nineteenth century and the Gothic-Catalan style presbytery of the nearby Santa Barbara church.
 
You can also admire the stately portals and inner yards typical of the houses in the Campidano plain, as well the evocative church ornaments housed in the charming Santa Barbara Museum, in the old Oratorio del Rosario and the “Sa Potecaria”, a singular museum where you can see the typical instruments used in past times by chemists: this is the only exemple in his kind on Sardinia.

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