Sustainable tourism in Sardinia, exploring Agriturismo Archelao

Sandro, the owner of Agriturismo Archelao

Lately, I’ve been noticing a change in my approach to daily life, change that I mainly blame on, or give credit to, traveling and interacting with different cultures.

Apart from a constant headache, very likely due to my unhealthy habit of spending most of my day in front of a computer screen, I’ve been developing a healthy obsession for all things natural. This is why as soon as I heard about Agriturismo Archelao I knew it was going to be the destination of my next excursion and also the topic of my next post.

Agriturismo Archelao perfectly fits the spirit of my blog, in fact, barely can we find a more unexpected corner of paradise in Sardinia. Truth be said, all of Sardinia is already pretty unexpected if you go beyond the Emerald Coast, but to find Agriturismo Archelao you will need the additional benefits of a good navigator or at least a good map. However, I guarantee, once you find it, you won’t regret it.

Sheep in the farm

There are many things you can visit, see and do in Sardinia, from finding unspoilt beaches to seeing small horses that didn’t physically evolve to witnessing a thrilling horse race to wandering about a thousand-year-old funerary complex to staring at great and controversial street art. But Sardinia can also be synonymous with peace, silence and total relax, a proper celebration of doing nothing. Whether you are looking at escaping your city’s noise pollution or soaking in truly local lifestyle, Agriturismo Archelao is right up your alley. On the other hand, if you are looking for exciting nightlife, disco clubs and beach parties, this is not your place. Don’t get me wrong, both beach and town are only a couple of km away, but the raison d’etre of this farm stay is altogether another one.

Sandro, owner and manager, immediately made it clear. “I had a customer who misunderstood the aim of our facilities, and since I couldn’t bear seeing her unhappy, I drove her to our other hotel downtown Oristano.”

Goats in the farm

Agriturismo Archelao, named after the owner’s father who actually started it, welcomes anybody interested in being surrounded by peace and nature, who is always up for a chat, who wants to explore how people live in inland Sardinia and also who wants to get dirty and give a hand in the farm. I only went for lunch and asked Sandro to show me around, but if I were to spend a week there I sure would have wanted to help. Probably the damage would be greater than the actual help, and very likely the employees would ask me not to bother and keep relaxing, but for sure I would try my best.

This farm perfectly clarified to me the definition of sustainable tourism. How can we travel in a more sustainable way? Eating and buying locally is one of the first tips, to both save the energy for products’ transportation, and also boost the local economy. The farm stay Agriturismo Archelao makes this very easy: not only can guests eat local products, but everything is actually produced in-house. How? They have a farm with sheep, hourses, donkeys, goats, pigs, cows, chickens, peacocks (just for beauty), they produce eggs, milk, cheese, meat, all sort of sausages, all range of local vegetables and fruits, jams, sauces, olives and olive oil. Not only, they even produce the food for their animals, which never eat pre-packed fodder but the hay and grains they make. There are only three things they don’t produce in house: wine, honey and bread, all obviously bought from surrounding local producers.

Olive tree

When I was nose-in-the-air enjoying the smell of the apple orchard, Sandro told me they have even presented a project to use only their photovoltaic system and even produce the fuel for their tractors and machines out of particular seeds. As soon as they receive the authorization, they will be 100 per cent self-sufficient. Photovoltaic system? Renewable energy? My heart skipped a beat: “Eco-friendly, independent, the revolution starts here!” The thought did cross my mind but I managed not to say it out loud.

After having greeted all the animals of the farm, spent some quality time with friendly donkeys, goats and calves, and visited two of their five mini apartments (only one of which with the kitchen inside), I joined my parents who were waiting for me in the dining room.

Previously informed about my vegetarian diet, they served more veggies delicacies than usual, quite appreciated by my parents too, as I’ve had the chance to notice. Homemade cheese to be eaten with apple/onion and pear/lemon jams, delicious small panadas, typical tart usually filled with meat or fish, but for the occasion filled with aubergines, tomato sauce pasta and ravioli with a filling of rocket and walnut, small omelets with zucchini and a seada, typical cake, filled with fresh cheese and a topping of grape jam, instead of honey or sugar as tradition would have wanted, were just some of the delicacies in this Pantagruelian lunch that prevented me from having dinner (rest assured, it doesn’t happen very often). Traditional cuisine enriched by fresh ideas and initiatives of the chef who likes to try new dishes and daring combinations using the season produce.

Cheese served with a choice of two different jams

On a table near us, another customer asked if they could have persimmon for fruit. “We don’t have it in the kitchen,” the waitress replied, “but if you want we can go pick them from the tree”. She was not kidding. Another heartbeat skipped: “Oh my god,” I thought, “here we can eat fruits directly from the tree! All organoleptic properties intact!” Again, I managed to prevent my thoughts from leaking out aloud.

Agriturismo Archelao has been open for ten years, so it’s a mystery how I didn’t know them already, given my perpetual quest on unearthing hidden gems and quality tourism in Sardinia. Nevertheless, it was a very welcome surprise.

Tourists are invited to participate in local life in the farm, contributing any way they wish with the knowledge they have. Schools often come to learn, or “re-learn” how to live in a natural environment, how to cook or make cheese, or understand how natural cycles work. As well as young students, here chefs too are formed and trained.

Small panada filled with aubergines

A holiday spent in this farm stay will give tourists a meaningful experience and raise their awareness on both what local life in Sardinia is like and how to promote sustainable tourism practices. Even for only one day, I enjoyed the excursion and togetherness with nature to the extent that I’ll try as much as I can to find similar ecotourism initiatives in my next trips in other countries.

Despite the evident excitement, this is not a sponsored post. I wasn’t invited, I decided to go there for lunch with my parents to visit the farm and eat out somewhere different, I didn’t even know they produced everything in the farm itself. I didn’t stay overnight because it’s actually close to where I live, but otherwise I wouldn’t have minded at all starting the day with the roaster’s wakeup call.

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Date / Fecha: 20/10/12

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