A Shepherd Turns a Spit in Supramonte

Today we got a chance to see the breadth of this huge island, the sweeping interior that is barely covered with civilization even though man has walked these hills and valleys for more than 6,000 years. Actually it was probably longer, since that only takes into account as far back as the Phoenicians, and somebody was likely to already be living here when they arrived.

The drive from the east coast to the tip of the far northwest was across a giant-sized valley. The sweep of the green fields, cut up broadly by stone fences, and punctuated by a surprising number of small extinct volcanoes, was breathtaking in how far you could see. Many of the little farm buildings we saw were abandoned, and some of the hills had the small conicle buildings that were once dwellings before even the Romans lived here.

Today’s highlight was meeting a shepherd who lives way up on top of a hill in the Supramonte mountain range. We boarded four jeeps and drove up a rugged trail to the top, where this man has lived for decades, with no wife, just 70 sheep. A long wooden table was prepared for our large group, and strong local wine was served in pitchers, in front of our wooden plates. Sheep’s milk ricotta with rosemary honey was the first treat, made that morning, and served on the wafer-thin bread found all over Sardinia. Then the salamis and the proscuitto, and then fresh sliced tomatoes…but inside a little conicle hut, the shepherd was busy.

He was turning a little spit and roasting two suckling pigs just for us. Deliciously creamy with crispy fat and tender lean meat, the pork treat came out right after the sliced fennel, and more of that tempting ricotta from a large deep pan. The setting was under bamboo reeds, and the views of the valley and the dramatic rocks above us were spectacular. A gorgeous sunny day, the buzz from that strong wine, and time to relax with a digestif…ahh, this was the pleasure that we knew we would eventually find on this big wild island of Sardinia.

Tomorrow we leave so early that we will be in Trastavere, Rome’s famous neighborhood, by nine am. This hotel is gorgeous with a front row view of the inlet from the Mediterrenean. We got here at about 9:30 pm and will leave before the sun comes up…but no worries, as we are still thinking about that great mountain lunch with the lonely shepherd.