Sardinia–No Lapdogs and Tough People

You know those books you keep trying to finish, that languish on your bedside? One of mine is Paul Theroux’ “The Pillars of Hercules,” about a journey around the Mediterranean. His observations of people are keen, below is a section about what he saw in Sardinia.

“It was a marketplace for the nearby farms, and the townies measured themselves against the peasants who turned up to sell vegetables or meat at the market. These peasants, Barbagians to their gnarled fingertips, were toothless and skinny and undersized people. The women wore shawls and four skirts and argyle knee socks and were more whiskery than their menfolk, who chewed broken pipestems and look oppressed. After the Oristano market closed, I imagine them scuttling back to the hills and sheltering under toadstools. But they were also noted for their toughness–ferrigno, they were called, made of iron.

Italy had allowed Sardinia to be self-governing, and given it a degree of autonomy that prevented the island from nursing the sort of political grievances that were so common on Corsica. There were no bomb-throwers in Sardinia. It was a rugged place–none of the poodles and lapdogs of France, only functional mutts that had to work to earn their keep–sheepdogs and guard dogs.”