When my Sardinia Inside Out partner Paola Loi took me to see the Romanesque church in the little town of Tratalias Vecchio in Sardinia, we were disappointed; the church, Chiesa di Santa Maria di Monserrato was closed for restoration. We could only view it from outside. That’s the main door on the right. Nice, eh?
The church was built in the Pisan Romanesque style between 1213 and 1282. The building is surrounded by the ancient village of Tratalias, now completely restored after being abandoned during a flood of the countryside, after which the inhabitants were moved to the north east.
I love Romanesque churches and the carvings you’ll find in them. But there was something else here. The pastel houses of Tratalias crammed together around the church brought a sense of unity, perhaps the reason for my happiness to just be wandering among them. My camera couldn’t help leaping to my eye.
But who’s ever heard of Tratalias?
I mean, that’s the thing, isn’t it? 100,000 people are telling you the best places to go in Rome, and exhorting you to eat pizza by the slice to save money because Rome is expensive. The web sags under the weight of it all; Google pukes millions of answers to the question of Rome and the best places to see on a budget.
There is something evocative about the public spaces in Tratalias; Italians would call it “suggestive.” Look at the Piazza chiesa vecchio centro over there on the right. Can you imagine the little old ladies gathered around that fountain, gossiping at a walloping fast clip, so fast a foreigner has no chance of following it? Today the piazza might be loaded, in the season, with tourists seeking out a fine meal at the very popular Locanda Monserrat or the Ristorante il Gallo Nero. Imagine! You can be immersed in this 11th century environment while eating fine food. Suggestive!
And you don’t need to eat street pizza to save money. Not that there’s a darned thing wrong about street pizza, but for people spending a load on plane fare and hotels, it seems kinda silly to save a couple euros by eliminating the local food at restaurants with this kinda view and noticing how much better it tastes than the industrial crap food foisted upon us by huge corporations which own the government flat out.
So, take a budget flight to Cagliari, rent a car and head out to Tratalias. You’ll find it in the Province of Carbonia-Iglesias (see our province map), about 50 km southwest of Cagliari and about 8 km southeast of Carbonia. It’s a very pleasant place.
Down the road a piece is the Agriturismo Santa Lucia with a real lawn and barbeque. It has a restaurant as well. You can rent bikes at the Agriturismo and explore the countryside.