Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town. The following interview was originally published in my Italy guide.
Today I’m happy to introduce you to Giuliano Langiu, a skating instructor, entrepreneur, and third-generation Iglasian here to tell us all about Iglesias – the city of many churches.
First, tell us about you.
I was born in Iglesias, left to study in Cagliari at age 19, and have spent a few years working and having other adventures between Cagliari and Iglesias. The origins of my family are in the village of Oschiri and we have been in Iglesias now for three generations.
In my free time, I am a skating instructor. For several years, I have coached at a high level, with my students competing nationally and internationally and achieving a lot. Now I have a company of my own—Roller Skating Team Sardinia Academy—where the goal is the world title in 10 years.
In addition, I recently opened a shop called Quarryville Gourmet, close to Cagliari, which means I travel every day. So my day starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. when I get home.
If someone is visiting Iglesias for the first time, what do you recommend they see or do?
Visit the churches! Iglesias means “many churches” in Italian. (So, if you thought it was a city dedicated to Julio Iglesias, sorry.) Many of the churches have beautiful frescoes that should be admired.
After the churches, tour the historic walls of the castle and the remains of the city gates.
If you can, come to the city when there is a Medieval procession (I have not personally been, but I hear they are absolutely beautiful), which always includes throwing events and crossbows. You should also see the processions during the holy week (the week before Easter).
Also, you must go to the beach (one of the most beautiful in the world). If you come to our area and do not visit the sea, we like to joke that we’ll send you to prison.
We also have beautiful mountains and pristine hills. This is also an old mining area and some old mines are open to visitors.
What neighborhoods or parts of town are best to stay in?
You can either stay in Iglesias or in the neighboring counties. Carbonia may be best because it is a little farther from Cagliari, but is the perfect link in between mountains and sea.
Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should everyone make sure to visit?
First, head to the mountains, up to the ancient Temple of Antas. Then head to the sea for lunch. Doing both in one day is such a beautiful experience and the photography opportunities are amazing.
Tell us about the local dishes. What should people try here?
Here, as in all of Sardinia, we love to eat the famous roast pork, but also lamb and roast caprettino (goat). (Though the pig is the best.)
Iglesias is also a great place for Sardinian desserts. Try any of the traditional bakeries. You won’t be disappointed.
Is there anything tourists do that locals find rude or strange? What can we do to better fit in with the culture?
Recently, the local population has become quite open minded. But one thing we cannot ever forgive is white socks with sandals or flip-flops. Ha!
In general, Sardinians do not like people who are too snobby. Also, when you go into a house, it is good practice to accept everything that is offered to eat and (especially) drink. In the villages of central Sardinia, saying no to food or drink is considered an insult.
What is the best way to meet locals and make friends?
Go to Via Nuova and Piazza Sella. The center of much of the social life here is bowling.
Why should people make sure to visit Iglesias?
If you love the sea or have a passion for mining history (in which case, visit our mining museum), you’ll love Iglesias. It is also close to many nice places to visit, including Carbonia, the Island of Sant’Antioco, and the village of Portoscuso, famous for factories and fishing traps.
Anything else you want us to know?
Sardinians speak parallel languages (not to be confused with dialects, as our root languages are different). In practice, we have four different types of Sardinian—a different one for each of the old provinces (Cagliari, Oristano, Nuoro, Sassari). Nuoro, which has less tourism, has the purest language. You will also find that Carloforte (Genoese dialect) is still spoken, as the island’s inhabitants are the descendants of the Genoese, former prisoners on the island. Finally, you’ll also find Alghero Prlato, an ancient dialect of Catalan.