From Sassari to Berchidda, a fascinating journey through Sardinia's Logudoro.
This journey is one spent discovering the Logudoro, a vast and extremely fertile territory to the North of central Sardinia, which comprises Sassari, the second largest Sardinian city, Muros, Ozieri, Chiesi and the Coghinas lake.
Travelling along the SS131 road, which links Sassari with Olbia, visitors have the opportunity to admire some of the Italian island's most fascinating landscapes
It was in the Medieval period, between the 9th and 15th century, that the Logudoro enjoyed one of its moments of greatest splendor, when it was nominated one of the four autonomous Sardinian states or "Giudicati."
Pisan Romanesque in Sardinia
Testifying to the area's glorious past we find a number of churches in Pisan-Romanesque style, churches such as the splendid Santissima Trinità della Saccargia.
This ancient basilica, 16kms from Sassari, occupies a strikingly isolated position which only adds to its charm and beauty. Building work on this immense house of worship commenced in the 12th century and continued for many years. Particularly worthy of note are the extremely decorative capitals and the zoomorphic motifs which adorn the four columns supporting the large cross vaulted portico on the façade.
A day at the races
Gastronomic specialties prepared in this, an area which includes the small town of Codrongianus, situated some 317 meters above sea level, are all linked to the ancient agricultural and sheep farming traditions.
Roasted lamb and goat, often seasoned with myrtle, cheese made from goat and ewe's milk, and an excellent olive oil feature in a great number of the dishes prepared here.
Our journey proceeds across the Chilivani plain, home to the Chilivani racetrack - one of the most important '''horse-racing tracks in the whole of Italy
Manmade lakes and marzipan
Logudoro is one of the most fertile areas of Sardinia, thanks also to the basin of water known as the Coghinas, an artificial lake created in 1926 by the damming of the Rio Mannu d'Ozieri.
The damming of the river allowed for the efficient irrigation of a great area of predominantly mountainous land, now used for the cultivation of olive trees and grapevines.
Whilst in Ozieri visitors should not miss the opportunity to taste the delicious marzipan "sospiri", the "sas copulettas" made with sponge soaked in almond essence, or the honey coated pastry plaits known as "origliettas".
Prayers and panadas
Not far from the Lake of Coghinas, near to the town of Oschiri, we find the Nostra Signora di Castro Sanctuary. Built in the 12th century in Lombard-Romanesque style, the red trachyte edifice continues to dominate the surrounding land.
The typical dish of Oschiri are the "panadas", small savory balls of cheese or minced meat, usually served with a selection of vegetables. Variations on the theme are endless, and panadas are also made with lamb, bacon, mushroom, artichoke, even eel fillings.
Our exploration of Logudoro terminates in Berchidda and Monti, the land where the Vermentino grapes, used in many of Sardinia's most prestigious wines, are cultivated.
Berchidda, just 30kms from Olbia, is home to the Wine Museum, the first multimedia museum dedicated to the history of wine production