A trip to Sardinia to discover the mysterious charm of the menhir.
Those keen to discover a Sardinia far from the island's celebrity-packed beaches, will need to travel deep inland, to reach the Sarcidano: a high plain, rich in woodland and meadows of wild orchids, which stretches between Campidano and Barbagia. In addition to the natural beauty of the area, Sarcidano is home to one of Sardinia's most important archeological sites. Whilst the Nuraghi settlements, dating back to the Bronze Age, represent perhaps the best known signs of the island's ancient past, it is in Sarcidano that remains dating back to an even earlier period can be seen.
In the center of Sarcidano, and right in the very heart of the island, in the town of Laconi, there is an interesting little archeological museum - a must for every megalithic fan - in which 40 standing stones are displayed. Anthropomorphic standing stones, large blocks of stone planted in the ground and thought to be symbols of fertility, are found spread across several ancient cultures from Spain to the Caucasus, but those exhibited in Laconi are a unique, Sardinian development of the art form. These stones were erected in the last phase of the Ozieri culture, in the Megalith period (Recent Neolithic, around 3200 BC.) While local tribes and other cultures started to use metals and the making of standing stones began to decline, in Sardinia, in a 25km area around Laconi it increased and produced the beautiful "menhir" stones.
The 40 evocative, carefully worked, ogival stones on show in the museum are variously carved, with noses, eyebrows, breasts and weapons. These Laconi carvings are thought to represent, not the male and female the divinities of the Ozieri, but mythical heroes and warriors of the tribes. Particularly mysterious symbols are the "capo volte", the upside-down man, and a kind of trident shaped figure. With the aid of the museum's computers, you can take a multimedia journey through this intriguing Prehistory period.
Fascinating as it may be, the museum is by no means the only attraction in the town of Laconi which, in 2005, obtained the Touring Club's orange flag, an accolade awarded to those small inland towns offering exceptional tourist services. To the rear of the neoclassical palazzo which once belonged to the Aymerich family, there is a splendid 22 hectare park created in 1830 by the marquis Ignazio Aymerich. The nobleman was a passionate collector of rare botanic species, which he was able to grow here thanks to the abundance of water in the garden. The ruins of the ancient Aymerich Castle and the 500 year Cedar of Lebanon tree are just some of the highlights of a garden filled with springs and waterfalls. Visitors can also reach Laconi by way of the "Sardinia's little green tourist train" along the Isili-Sorgono line.
Museum of the statue-menhir
Morning: 09.00 - 13.00hrs; afternoon: 16.00 - 19.00hrs
Closed first Monday of the month.