What would a tourist do in little Milis, a town of barely 2000 souls on the Campidano plain in the Oristano province of Sardinia?
Ok, let’s face it, the interior of Sardinia has been shunned by nearly everyone. It’s the edges of this island people want to explore. Warm, sandy beaches, ten euro beer at the bar, nut brown bodies, some of the women topless.
Ok, there’s a lot to be said about the rim of Sardinia. Except for the price of beer. But I am not a beach person. I always head for the interior. Life is interesting there. And lots of things have changed since the time I spent excavating Nuraghe Santa Barbara in Balaudu, a short drive (or long walk) away from Milis.
We just had to have a little glass of something in the main piazza of Milis, the piazza of the Martyrs. The view we had is shown in the picture above, which features the bell tower and dome of the San Sabastian church as well as the Pallazo Boyl, which houses the interesting Museum of Sardinian Jewellery and Folk Costumes (you’ll have to make arrangements to visit). Soon after sitting, we were motioned over to a table of a couple of regulars.
Despite the shrinking Italian economy, Milis is doing fine, the boys at the bar told us as they poured some Vernaccia from their pitcher into the traditional tiny glasses the waitress had set in front of us. The reason? Some of Italy’s finest and most sought-after oranges. If you go there at the right time, they’re stacked on the sidewalk so you can taste what the fuss is all about.
You can stroll the garden, called S’Ortu de is Paras.
Milis is near legendary Vernaccia di Oristano wine country. The white wine is nothing like the Vernaccia of San Gimignano, so you should try it.
The folks of Milis are known to be fine woodcarvers. They even take their sharp tools to their garage doors:
12th century Romanesque church with interesting cemetery? Check.
There is also bread and fresh pasta in abundance in the shops; Milis is locally known for excellence in producing both.
Festivals and Saint’s days? Check:
- St. Anthony of Padua – June 13th
- St. John the Baptist – June 24th
- Saints Peter and Paul – June 29th
- Our Lady of Buoncammin – Second Sunday in July
But the big festival is the New Wine festival: Rassegna dei vini novelli held in November.
Small town Sardinia? You can learn some quick Italian in town. The availability of local food and wine for folks who like to cook makes this a great place to rent an apartment or stay in an agriturismo. Unlike 30 years ago when I first began exploring the island, there are plenty of places to stay that are highly rated in Milis and nearby Bauladu.
Domus Maria is inexpensive and very highly rated (9.7 out of 10!). It’s right in the heart of town. Domus is “casa” in the Sardinian language.
Casa Christina is a highly-rated large apartment with a mountain view and bike rental available.
Just a short way away is the town of Bauladu which has an extraordinary B&B we’ve eaten at. Casa Atza is attached to a working farm, and cheese is made when the cows are giving milk and you can watch the process. Meals are fabulous and gargantuan—and very inexpensive for the quality and quantity. Ask to have the traditional maialino sardo, the island’s famous roast suckling pig. It’s fantastic.
Suggested Postcard Scribblings
“Hi All. We’re spending a week in the Sardinian town of Milis. It’s right near Bauladu. The people are nice and the boys that bought us wine in the piazza are crazy and on the Saint’s days they go all out with processions and then they eat like it’s their last meal.
Milis is…well, try to find it on the map. By the time you do, we’ll be home to tell you about our adventure there.”
Travel Advice and What to See Near Milis
Sinis Peninsula and Cabras – See the Giants of Mont’e Prama and the ancient archaeological site of Tharros, spectacularly situated on the coast.