By the time we’ve had our shower the car park is slowly filling with cars full of beach bods and inflatables. The car park has a number of automated pay machines (€4 per day) but without an attendant they are useless. To us it seems strange to have an attendant collect you money, insert in to the machine, obtain a ticket and hand it to you. Surely this is something you can do yourself? But not in Italy! We are not sure if this is done because Italians will avoid the fee if unattended or if it is because they value the ‘service’ delivered by people. A bit similar to how the fuel stations have self serve or assisted. After watching and debating the economics of Italian car parks we head off before we get blocked in.
The island was barely accessible by road until the 20th century, the jagged cliffs and coast of Sant’Antioco is one of Sardinia’s least explored stretches of coastline. After the Greeks and Romans left, the island was abandoned for centuries to the vagaries of Mediterranean pirates. Today, its untouched beaches, coastal gardens and hamlets remain free of mass development. Despite the overwhelming draw of sandy beaches, pristine blue waters and dramatic sandstone cliffs.
Over on the west coast just before the village of Polifemo we stop for breakfast. An Italian espresso with olive oil toast and marmalade, yum. All nibbled with a superb vantage point that commands breathtaking coastal views. Followed by a little walk and a stretch of the legs. However, watch your footing as chunks of the fragile coast is constantly slipping in to the ocean.
We look at our map to see if there are any coastal villages. it seems strange, we notice that there are hardly any coastal towns and villages in all of Sardinia. With the exception of the odd modern tourist resort and the fishing port, all the main places are inland. We assumed it was down to the topography of the island and whilst that might be the case in some instances its not the main reason. Sardinia often fell prey to passing pirates and marauders, which made them wary. Scared of the dangers that came from the sea. Sardinians felt it was safer to build inland. With no towns along the route we stick to hugging the coast.
The west coast offers a small number of beach coves with parking facilities. All with permitted camper parking for €3 per day and free overnight. Tempted as we are we are giving the beach a rest today as Mac’s lump has reappeared. A play day of beach and ball could just make it worse, so light exercise is today’s plan. We have no idea why it has flared up and we are not 100% sure what it is. We ‘thought’ it was from an insect bite but given its flared up again, we think its unlikely.
Sant’Antioco principal port of call is Calasetta, a renowned port with a pleasant waterfront. Its a little tricky to navigate to the parking area as the GPS just wants you to drive through the centre. The tiny alleys and one way system make it impossible for motorhomes to drive through, so make sure you stick to the outskirts.
Parking on the port car park is normally €6 with dedicated camper spaces. However, the pay machine is broken and the attendant is sick, so today its free. Nothing like a bit of free parking to top up the ice cream fund.
Our Bumble paid car park at Calasetta GPS position: N039.110701, E008.373152
There are no must see sights as such, but a slow wander through the grid lined streets makes for a nice saunter. The town was founded in 1769 to house the Ligurian fishermen arriving from the Tunisian island of Tabarca. The town is quiet and the only activity is from the Luna Park fairground, as they dismantle the rides piece by piece. Mac n Tosh were enjoying their walk albeit a little too hot out of the shade. Mac’s lump is starting to worry us. Whilst Mac seems fine in himself, its just the lump has returned and is growing. Poor little chap looks like hunch back of Notre Dame. We head back to the van and search out the nearest vet, which is 30km in the town of Carbonia.
An hour later, we arrive at Carbonia, a compact core with an industrial outer. Wide streets rise and fall, twist and turn. The buildings look more Spanish than Italian, with red roofs and mixture of stone and white plastered walls, stained by streaks from the rain spoil. We drive slowly searching the a sign “veterinario”. We pulled up outside the vets. A dingy looking exterior, which resembled an unused workshop with rusty roller shutters and overgrown weeds. Was it still in operation? I jumped out the motorhome and tried the door. To my surprise it opened.
The tatty exterior bears no resemblance to the clean and well presented interior. Dr Georgio, a chap in his late 50’s placed Mac on the examination table and gave the lump a full investigation. His recommendation, immediate surgery to remove the tumour. Following which a biopsy would then reveal if cancer or not. The diagnosis was a shock and something we had not considered. Surgery without looking at other options seemed way to drastic a step. We want the right thing for Mac but surely surgery is a little extreme at this stage. We asked a number of questions but translation stepped in the way. We needed time to think.
An hour later and we were parked outside another vets in Iglesias. Under the circumstances we felt it better to seek a second opinion. The outside was clean and well maintained just like the interior. The two vets examined Mac and asked us about his history, how we think the lump occurred etc. In order to assess if it is infection they jab a needle in to the lump several times and try to draw liquid. No liquid, the lump is solid. Mac never whimpered or cried. He just looked at me for reassurance. Tosh sat on the floor gazing up at his bro.
Located right above his liver, I ask if it could be liver related. They shake their head, its a muscular swelling. They suspect a nasty bang which has caused the swelling and an active lifestyle with plenty running is probably making it worse. They explain the options and outcome. A jab, a course of anti-inflamatories and €30 sees us on our way.
Our Bumble paid car park at Funtanamare GPS position: N039.289613, E008.437918
We make our way to the coast and park up at Funtanamare, which turns out to be free (after 6pm). The sun is about to set and crowds line the beach to watch the sun turn the sky a warm glow. Craig prepares home-made burgers whilst I give Mac a big cuddle and plenty kisses. As a reward for being a good boy we treat them both to a tin of their favourite sardines in olive oil.
After dinner we chat about the day. We have no medical training but we both feel we made the right decision for Mac. Seeking a second opinion was a good choice. Treating a potential knock as opposed to placing him under the knife feels the right first step. Yes, if this treatment doesn’t work he may well end up having surgery but we would rather try less invasive options first. We are back at the vets in two days, so lets hope our gut feeling is right.