Ultimate authentic day trip from Cagliari: The Family Experience

A trip to the Italian island of Sardinia promises an incredible experience, no matter what you do. There are so many facets to this island and these people, and that’s why we reached out to Your Sardinia Experience. To get a truly authentic and local experience, we booked The Family Experience — a day trip from Cagliari to Aritzo with a stop in the must-visit Su Nuraxi di Barumini. Depending on the season and day, you may get to experience other pieces of the local culture as well.

day trip from Caglisari - Su Nuraxi di Barumini - Jess

It was an experience to remember. After we got back to our room, Sean said, “That might be the best thing we have ever done on our travels.” I have to agree with that statement.

Full disclaimer: We received this day trip in exchange for a post and although we were snapping away with our camera, we felt more like regular tourists and then family through the whole experience.

Affiliate links: this post will contain affiliate links.

View our YouTube video here, or keep reading below.

Why take a day trip from Cagliari?

There are plenty of things to do in Sardinia. It’s a good-sized island and bigger than we’ve been on before. It’s all about what you want to do and how to spend your time.

You may want to base yourself in Cagliari if you don’t have an extended about of time on Sardinia. We were looking to have a pretty relaxing anniversary trip so we didn’t want to drive all over the place — but we still wanted to experience a lot and learn about the people and their culture.

That’s exactly why we decided on a full-day trip. Cagliari is on the southern tip of the island so to get inland, it takes some time, so you need the full day. And it’s totally worth it.

They picked us up at our accommodation, as you would, with a comfy 9-person van. Our guide today was Francesco. He just happens to be the owner and typically runs this specific tour as well. There’s a good reason for that… it’s his family!

Su Nuraxi di Barumini – an ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site

You won’t find a whole lot of historical stuff on this website. It’s not really our thing. But every once in a while something just catches us and piques our interest. Of course, I didn’t know what to expect walking up to a pile of what seemed like rubble, but our guide drew us in with everything he knew…and what he didn’t know (what nobody knows!) about sites like these.

Su Nuraxi di Barumini - stone

The Nuraxi — the towers are a bit of a mystery about what they were used for. Not only that, but they hid other secrets inside that give some answers while also providing more questions. There are a few different configurations but they all have the same basic elements to them. Being about 4,000 or more years old, the biggest mystery to me is how they were built and how they got the stones to that location.

Su Nuraxi di Barumini - inside wall

As towers, it’s possible they were used as look-out spots. The wells beneath the ground could mean it was a community place. The various rooms could have been used for a million reasons and because these places are made of stone and built in a specific way, the temperature stays pretty constant.

Su Nuraxi di Barumini - inside wall

They also made for interesting discoveries because people used the walls in the rooms to hid things like trinkets. Every piece of the story helps. These trinkets are now in the National Archeological Museum in Cagliari if you want to get more history!

Su Nuraxi di Barumini - portrait

The cool thing about going with Your Sardinia Experience, and specifically, Francesco, is that you need a guide to go in. And because he studied archeology and knows his stuff, they allow him to take his own groups in (which are always tiny anyway). Oh, and this in all included in your price — none of that “doesn’t include entrance fees” kind of stuff.

Driving through Sardinia

This is its own kind of special. To get to the small village, you have to drive over the mountain and through the woods, to grandmother’s house, we go. Yeah — that’s pretty much the case and it is STUNNING. Since we were driving, we don’t have good photos, so you’ll just have to see for yourself! This place is unbelievable. I don’t know the last time I saw scenery quite like this before.

Since we have to drive through the mountains, you might think it’s super windy and while it is for a bit, we didn’t have any problems with car sickness. If you tend to get car sick, then prepare accordingly but know that the curvy roads don’t last too long.

Learning about woodworking

There are so many crafts that are lost to the times and to technology but when you find a real craftsman, it’s like finding a rare gem.

Woodworking in Sardinia - blue box

We got to a small town and met Carlo, a man who makes intricate designs in wood and then creates full pieces of furniture. I wish we could own one of his pieces. They are the kind that you had down generation to generation. I always have a great appreciation for these people. The artistry, time, commitment, and talent needed for these projects are immense.

woodworking in Sardinia
handcarving in Sardinia

Since people aren’t buying as much high-end and pass-downable pieces, he also specializes in refurbishing important pieces to keep alive what has already been created — even if it’s over 100 years old. It was an honor to meet Carlo. He was a highlight of our day!

tools for woodworking

Pasta-making in Sardinia

We parked the van in Aritzo and as we hop out, it’s like we were transported to the most charming place you could imagine. It’s quiet but there are still a couple of cars and people walking around. It’s a world away from the busyness of Cagliari.

After a short walk, we make our way to Francesco’s grandmother’s house. It’s completely obvious this is not just another touristy thing to do. This is his family coming together to help visitors understand what it is to be Sardinian.

Entry for The Family Experience
The Family Experience Sardinia

His mother and brother were both there to help us have one of the best experiences of our lives. We were welcomed like family and shown the family photos along the wall.

family photos in Sardinia

Since the house has been in the family for quite a while, they kept some of the items as a reminder of past times. Then we got all geared up in our aprons and and little caps.

Sean making pasta
kneading dough

First up, the thin bread that Sardinia is famous for called guttiau. This seems pretty straight forward. Just roll, spin, roll, spin, roll, keep in a circle, and roll and roll and roll. But the real test is in the pizza oven. Ours just didn’t rise properly. No worries, though! Because the professional (Victoria) had us covered and we had plenty of delicious bread to eat.

Victoria teaching pasta making
Sean and Jess making pasta

Then we learned how to make pasta. The dough can be a bit tricky, but we did it!

The first type of pasta was malloreddus and it was fairly simple. Take part of the dough, roll it into a thin rod and cut small pieces. Then run the piece down the textured board with your finger to make the beautiful shape. Once we got to the ravioli, I had some confidence going…and it was fleeting. Italians make this stuff look easy!

behind the scenes pasta making

My pasta wasn’t even and I got an air bubble in mine. But, you know what? It still tasted delish 😉 The final pasta — well, umm, let me just say, I’ll let the traditionalists take care of it. They are called culurgiones and are beautiful and delicious but pretty difficult to fold together. His mother, Victoria, even tried to help me by moving my fingers for me. Alas, I need to practice more! Will you be the protege?

pasta making lessons
pasta making lessons jessica

Fun fact: Zac Efron has gone on this day trip!

I mentioned earlier how the bread Sean and I made didn’t rise properly to create the famous super thin crispy bread, but we did have fun trying! Victoria gave us the reins to use the pizza oven and that was a first for me as well. So many firsts on this trip 🙂

Can you imagine having a pizza oven in your house? Well, they have a whole hut dedicated to it. Then a whole other small building dedicated to their wine and liquors. Do you know what this tells me? They value food, family, and friends. The whole place felt like it was built for sharing stories and laughing.

Sean with pizza oven

After all that and pretending to be a master of Italian cooking, we sat down to have the most lovely lunch with all the pasta we created, the bread that was freshly baked, and local wine that is simply divine. We left completely full, satisfied, happy, and overflowing with gratitude that this experience exists.

Lunch at the Family Experience
Only part one of lunch!

As a final bite, we got some homemade treats, including gelato. Words cannot express how perfect it was. We didn’t take as many photos over lunch since we were trying to be more in-the-moment at this point. But it was just like having lunch with friends we’ve known for years.

Sardinian dessert

BOOK YOUR TRIP: The Family Experience

Exploring Aritzo

After all the excitement at the house, we were given some time to wander around the little village of Artizo.

Valley views

The narrow streets take you to places to discover insane views over the valley. There’s even some street art to enjoy.

Artizo street art
Views in Artizo

We walked to an area with a well where the locals can refill water jugs or where visitors, like us, can refill our water bottles. Doesn’t hurt that there’s a gorgeous waterfall right next to it!

Jess in Artizo

The trip back was relaxing. I think both of us dozed off a bit. Don’t worry, though, if you have a million questions, Francesco is more than happy to talk along the journey as well.

We felt like it was a very well-balanced day of things to do, people to meet, driving, experiences, and food. It couldn’t have been a better day. We were so happy at the end of the day. Your Sardinia Experience has a bunch of day trips and half day trips. If we go back during high season we are most interested in the South-West Island Experience and the wine tour experience because that’s just who we are 🙂

If you get the opportunity to visit Sardinia, I hope you take advantage and discover as much of it as possible.

Wishing you love and travels!

Ready to take the trip?

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Now, go and have an AMAZING time! Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram (@awanderlustforlife) so we can see your memorable experiences.

Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.

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