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Cagliari: Barumini Unesco Site, Casa Zapata and Giara Park

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    Stop At: Casa Zapata Museum, Piazza Giovanni XXIII, 09021 Barumini, Sardinia Italy

    Casa Zapata is a beautiful complex residence, whose realization was ordered by the Zapata noble family as from the end of the XVI century. Family’s members arrived in Sardinia in 1323 together with the infant Alfonso to conquer it and in 1541 they bought the Barony of Las Plassas, Barumini and Villanovafranca, becoming landlords and then barons of these lands until the abolition of the feudalism. Among the various buildings being part of this residence stand out: a beautiful building with an elegant garden, built between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century to become the feudal lord house and Baronial Home, and two other bodies pertaining to agricultural buildings, accomplished since the early 1900s, used as storehouses, stables and farmer’s house overlooking a large open court that allowed the free movement of people, goods and animals. In front of “Casa Zapata” is located the Parish Church entitled to the Blessed Immaculate Virgin Mary, whose construction was probably commissioned by the same noble Aragon family.
    Today the Spanish residence is the seat of the so-called “Casa Zapata” Museum organized into three sections.
    The Archaeological Section has been mounted into the oldest part of the residence, a beautiful palace realized according to the classical model imposed by Philip II and imitating the shape and style of Zapata family’s palace in Cagliari. It deals with a very beautiful seventeenth century building which, during the last century, was identified as ideal for care and enhancement of the very important finds found in the archaeological zone of Su Nuraxi. To this end, after the death of the last baroness, Donna Concetta Ingarao Zapata, occurred in the Eighties and a bad period of total neglect , the Municipality of Barumini bought its property in 1987. Approximately 3 years later, in 1990, unaware of the treasure that “Casa Zapata” kept inside, they started the restoration works towards the implementation of the plan for a museum. But these works were soon stopped due to the discovery of an impressive complex nuraghe under the palace. As from that moment many campaigns of excavations (which are still in progress) have followed and the museum project was carried out in order to safeguard and not distort the structure of the palace and, at the same time, to make possible the vision from above of the complex nuraghe through a system of footbridges and some glass floors.
    So it’s remarkable to enter into a sixteenth century palace and then unexpectedly find yourself facing a very impressive nuraghe. It was just the professor Giovanni Lilliu, who wrote, still before the beginning of the archaeological excavations, that near “the palace, ancient people established a nuraghe and a village all around it”. A nuraghe that he renamed Su Nuraxi ‘e Cresia (the nuraghe of the church), exactly for the closeness to the Parish Church, and Nuragic people raised in this site (i.e. in a high ground of marly rock) because it was flat, so high as to dominate the surrounding territory and not far from water sources. Indeed, one possible function of nuraghes was the military one.
    Su Nuraxi ‘e Cresia is a complex trilobate nuraghe, made up of a central tower called “keep”, and three other perimetrical towers built all around it and joined by rectilinear curtain walls. Moreover, it has got the particularity of being equipped of 2 courtyards, one inside the trilobate rampart and one other outside it. The archaeological excavations made as from 2005, exactly in this outer courtyard, have allowed archaeologists to brought to light the original paved floor of the structure which, thanks to the materials found here, has been dated back to the Recent Bronze. Moreover, the other ones made inside Casa Zapata and in the Northern part have highlighted the presence of two defence walls and a settlement of a village.
    Since the excavations are still ongoing archaeologists can only hypothesize the chronological stages of the monument history: primarily the building of the keep; in a second time that one of Southern and Eastern Towers and their curtain walls; finally, the building of the Western Tower, exactly because it has been raised with basalt and, therefore, with an obvious change in building material. The archaeological finds of “Su Nuraxi ‘e Cresia return an horizon and a cultural stratification running from the Nuragic Age (Recent Bronze 1300 B.C. and Final Bronze 1100-800 sec. B.C.) untill the Roman (Late-Republican and Late-Imperial) and Early Middle Ages; after the Old Age Su Nuraxi ‘e Cresia records an attendance in Judicial Age till the building of the Zapata Palace.
    The towers, which in the original time were much higher, are now missing their upper parts. They had a tholos truncated-cone shape and were made up of some circular rooms placed one upon the other. Nowadays, inside Casa Zapata it is possible to see the Keep and the Eastern tower, while the Southern tower, the Western tower, the defence walls and the village develop outside the structure. Basalt, a volcanic hard rock coming from the plateau Giara, the same one used to build Su Nuraxi of Barumini, appears in this nuraghe in a sporadic way because it has been mainly built with very big polygonal blocks of local marl, arranged in horizontal rows.
    The archaeological section, besides the complex nuraghe, houses a prestigious collection of archaeological artefacts (more than 180 pieces) found in Su Nuraxi archaeological zone, after the excavations conducted by the professor Giovanni Lilliu during the Fifties and restored by technicians of the local archaeological restoration workshop.
    The Historical Section has been mounted into one of buildings being part the most recent part of the residence and used as warehouses or stables. Inside it you can see some of the most important documents belonging to Zapata Family and the community of Barumini. In the showcases you will have the chance to admire some original papers, considered disappeared until now, but recently found by the Municipality of Barumini. Moreover in the panels and in the computers next to the room you can see some other important papers being part of Andrea Lorenzo Ingarao Zapata di Las Plassas’s private collection, who is the grand-nephew of the last baron’s wife, Donna Concetta Ingarao Zapata. He is living in Rome and he had given us all these papers only in digital format.
    And finally the Ethnographic section, also mounted into one of buildings being part the most recent part of the residence, consisting of a small room showing some of the most common tools used during the last century by the inhabitants of Barumini and the neighboring villages; and the Regional Museum of Launeddas, a small space dedicated to the oldest Sardinian musical instrument, mounted with the assistance of the master Luigi Lai.

    Duration: 1 hour

    Stop At: Viale Su Nuraxi, 09021 Barumini, Sardinia Italy

    Visiting Barumini and its territory means discover a world rich in history and tradition.
    From the first moments in which you approach this small village of Marmilla, located in the heart of Sardinia, you can breathe a particular atmosphere, that one of a special place, deputed since the Old Age at seat of power and central part of a rich land full of marvels and fundamental way of communication.
    The most important of witnesses of this glorious past is undoubtedly Su Nuraxi archaeological zone. Discovered and brought to light in the Fifties, during excavations conducted by the great archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, the area consists of an impressive complex nuraghe, built in different phases as from the 15th century BC and an extended village of huts developed all around it during the following centuries. A wonderful place that now since 1997 has been enrolled in Unesco World Heritage Lists because of its uniqueness.
    The archaeological zone of “Su Nuraxi” was discovered and brought to light by the archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu during the Forties and Fifties and because of its uniqueness has been enrolled in Unesco World Heritage List in 1997.
    The Nuragic civilization developed in Sardinia during a period of about 1000 years (1500-500 BC) giving rise to a very complex social structure, characterized by communities divided into different social classes to which families or clans belonged.
    So far, across the island, more than 7000 nuraghes (single towers and complex nuraghes) were surveyed and in the territory of Barumini, about thirty of them appear. Su Nuraxi is the most representative of complex nuraghes, i.e. consisting of more than one tower. Their building in Sardinia is primarily done between the Middle Bronze and the Recent Bronze Age with a strictly military function; even if they are older of about 3000 years, in fact, they were very similar to medieval castles and were used to defend the surrounding lands. Subsequently, they were adapted and reused up to the Iron Age and sometimes they were also used by people who took the place of Nuragic ones.
    Su Nuraxi presents a cultural stratification of more than 2000 years, i.e. from 1500 BC to the 7th century AD.
    Now possible distinguish different stages of development, thanks to the identification of the building sequences and to the evidence provided by the material culture. The main building material is basalt, a volcanic hard rock that in this territory can be only found on the slopes of the Giara plateau.
    In the Middle Bronze Age (1500-1300 BC) the main tower (the keep) was built, i.e. the simple nuraghe with tholos. “Tholos” is the term used to denote a truncated cone tower made up of circular rooms with jutting out walls, i.e. consisted of large stone blocks decreasing in size as they tapered toward the top, and completed by a false dome-shaped roof. The central tower or keep (originally 18,60 meters high) was made up of three rooms placed one upon the other communicating among them through some staircases obtained inside the thickness of the wall.
    Then, during the Recent Bronze Age (1300-1100 B.C.) four towers, originally 14 meters high, joined by curtain walls and oriented toward the four cardinal points were added to the original single tower forming a quadrilobate bastion. The main entrance of the fortalice, situated in the South-Eastern curtain wall, leaded into a half-moon shaped courtyard, which allowed to connect rooms of several towers and was equipped with a well. All four towers consisted of two rooms, which had also a circular base and a false dome-shaped roof, placed one upon the other and completely independent between them. Rooms at the ground floor were provided with embrasures, arranged into two rows and separated by a half-height wooden platform.
    During this same period the oldest clump of huts of the village arose (of which few traces now remain) and 3 towers, being part of an encircling outer wall prepared for the external defense of the quadrilobate rampart, were built.
    During the Late Bronze Age (1100-IX century BC) the towered defense wall was renovated and enlarged by the addition of other towers, while the quadrilobate bastion was covered by a masonry sheath, about 3 meters in thickness, which blocked the original entrance at the ground. This last one was so replaced by a new rectangular raised entrance obtained within the mass of the reinforced North-Eastern curtain wall. This massive masonry reinforcing sheath also occluded the embrasures of the rooms at the ground floor into the towers being part of the quadrilobate.
    During the Late Bronze Age, most of the houses of the village were also built; they had a circular base and consisted of one only room covered by wooden conical roofing.
    One of the most important structures being part of the Nuragic complex, built during that time, is the “Hut 80″ also called “Hut of Reunion”, “Council Hall” or “Curia”. It is a large circular building provided with a circular stone bench arranged around the inner perimeter and five niches on the wall, where archaeologists have found several elements probably used during some religious rituals which suggest to us that inside it some very important public events must have taken place.
    At the beginning of the last period of the Nuragic Age, called Iron Age (IX-VI century BC), Su Nuraxi was completely destroyed and on the remains, next to both the external defense wall and the nuraghe, a new clump of huts were built as from the early decades of the VII century BC, which develops fine techniques and urban forms belonged to a society who was renovating and growing both internally and for external contacts and stimuli. At this time, the climate becomes more peaceful and stable and the military life is now a memory of the past.
    During this period new dwelling typologies were built the insulae with a central court. These huts have a circular shape and rooms, mostly quadrangular and probably covered by a wooden roof, are put in a radial and centripetal arrangement all-around a circular paved open-sky courtyard. The most significant room is the so-called “rotonda”, an elegant small room which in the original time could have had a false domed roof; this room is provided with a paved floor, a circular stone bench and a basin in the middle used to contain some water, as it was probably used to practice some lustral rituals connected with the cult of waters. These huts are now brought to light in a small number of nuraghes and those ones of Barumini reach a higher degree of complexity and change.
    In the V century BC the Nuragic Civilization took its place to the Punic occupation and the locals came into contact with a different culture. Apart from some progressive material input from the Punic cities, the physical appearance of the village and the lifestyle of its inhabitants didn’t suffer a big change; however, they had no development, rather a gradual decline of housing and population was the result.
    During the historical period, II-I century BC, the settlement was reused and adapted by the Romans, who in some cases used some environments as burial places. The structure continued to be inhabited until the III century BC and later it was sporadically attended until the Early Middle Age, VII century BC.

    Duration: 1 hour

    Stop At: Giara di Gesturi - Escursioni a Cavallo, Gesturi, Sardinia Italy

    An enchanting landscape where time stands still, a Nuragic legacy and intense devotion. These are the characteristics of Gesturi, the northernmost village in the Marmilla region, with over a thousand inhabitants. You will visit the Giara, a plateau 600 meters high, once an impressive volcano and now an unparalleled oasis in the Mediterranean. Vegetation and animals live in symbiosis: a 'natural museum' with a dense blanket of botanical species, rare flowers, and plants that adapt to the climate and the territory. They receive moisture from Is Paulis, enormous pools of water, even four meters deep. All around, there are valleys dominated by Mediterranean scrub and hills on which there are olive groves and vineyards, from which excellent quality wine and olive oil are obtained. Then, along the precipitous ridges of the plateau, forests of oak trees and poplars appear and make way for the cork oak woods on top of the plateau, almost all of which are 'crooked', having been bent by the strength of the wind. This wildly beautiful place is inhabited by ducks, Eurasian woodcocks, Eurasian jays, hares and, above all, Giara horses, a protected species whose origin is shrouded in mystery and of which there are about 500 specimens living in small groups. Rocky elevations stand out on the plateau, interrupting the level trend of the ground. Here, you can walk amidst the signs that man has left over 3500 years, including the 'father of all Nuraghi', the Bruncu Madugui Protonuraghe.

    Duration: 1 hour
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    Important Information
    Departure Point
    Viale Chia, 33, 09010 Domus De Maria CA, Italy

    Traveler pickup is offered

    Return Details
    Returns to original departure point
    • All taxes, fees and handling charges
    • Bottled water
    • Local guide
    • Hotel pickup and drop-off
    • Skip the line
    • Transport by air-conditioned minivan with wifi, due to availability, please be aware that vehicles used in the excursions may be different from description and vary at the management's discretion.
    • Insurance
    • Entry/Admission - Casa Zapata Museum
    • Entry/Admission - Su Nuraxi
    • Entry/Admission - Giara di Gesturi - Escursioni a Cavallo
    • Private Tour (optional)
    • Gratuities
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    Additional Info
    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
    • Infant seats available
    • Not recommended for travelers with back problems
    • Most travelers can participate
    • Not recommended for pregnant travelers
    • Wheelchair accessible
    • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
    • Child rate applies only when sharing with 2 paying adults
    • Dress code is smart casual
    • Due to availability, please be aware that for groups of more than 8 participants vehicles used in the excursions may be different from description and vary at the management's discretion.
    • Vegetarian option is available, please advise at time of booking if required
    • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 8 travelers
    Cancellation Policy
    For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
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