I first visited Alghero in Sardinia in 2009, I remember that it rained a lot. I thought that it might be a good idea to stay dry and visit the Cathedral but sadly it was closed for restoration.
This has happened to me quite regularly I have to say, I am quite unlucky when it comes to visiting Cathedrals and I very often find scaffolding, men at work and no entry signs.
Eventually the rain eased. There was a little bar that overlooked the sea and we ordered Italian beer and some sandwiches that when they arrived we had to eat quickly because of the unwanted attention of hundreds of irritating flies that quickly became uninvited guests at our table. The waiter apologised and explained that this time of year is always bad for these little pests.
It was really warm and we were glad of the seafront location as we sat and watched the activity on the promontory overlooking the sea and we were envious of the unhurried pace of life that the local people seemed to enjoy. A bit of a walk, a bit of a chat, a bit of a walk, a bit of a chat, a bit of a walk, a bit of a chat and then turn around and do it all over again as they dawdle back in the opposite direction.
We navigated the city and as went peered down slightly shabby narrow streets, disfigured by graffiti, care worn but lived in with brightly colour-washed buildings with ancient coats of paint like fragments of history which have blotched and blurred by a combination of successive harsh summers, equally hard winters and general neglect resulting in a glorious wash resembling water colours running in the rain, everything dripping and running, liquefying and merging, leaking and fusing.
The streets between the houses were like deep gullies made brilliant by vibrant washing lines even after a night of torrential rain strung outside of windows like carnival bunting as though in anticipation of a parade, stretching across the streets dripping indiscriminately and swaying gently backwards and forwards above the secret doorways and back alleys and with realistically today, in view of the weather, only an outside chance of drying out.
Alghero has a Catalan heritage and even today Catalan is recognised as an official language and street names appear in both Catalan and Italian. A good percentage of the population speak this language although being rather isolated from direct Catalan influence over the years the dialect of Alghero today is said to be similar to the language spoken in Catalonia between the middle of the fourteenth and the end of the seventeenth century. For an Algheran to speak to a Catalan today would be rather like me trying to have a sensible conversation with William Shakespeare.
As if to emphasise this Catalan connection Alghero has four twin towns, Tarragona and Balaguer in Catalonia, Encamp in Andorra (almost Catalonia) and Catalan speaking Palma in Majorca.
We walked along the city walls with the stunning views out to sea and we made note of promising looking restaurants for our evening meal. We frequently detoured into the labyrinth of streets to explore the town and especially liked a deli bar/restaurant but were shocked by the price of the wine and decided instead to look for a supermarket.