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Sardinia is “different” from any other region and indeed this is the idea that many have when they arrive on the island.
How else could you define a territory where you can go from almost dolomitic scenery to expanses of white sand? Green waters and nuragic ruins, underwater caves and submerged ruins, cheese teeming with worms and crispy porceddu cooked on the grill? And then traditions and legends, religious rites and unique songs.
It’s not possible to give an exhaustive description of Sardinia.
What we propose is just a taste of the great Sardinian beauty. Sardinia will be happy to welcome you with open arms. Allow yourself to live a dream
This is a 50-kilometer stretch of rugged coastline, between Olbia and Arzachena: is the Costa Smeralda. We are on the northeastern coast of the island.
Today it is perhaps the most famous port in the Mediterranean but for a long time it was a forgotten area, one of the many coastlines of Gallura, dotted with granite outcrops and small winter streams that accumulated at the mouth a few meters of sand.
In the sixties, this corner of paradise was discovered, while sailing with his yacht among unknown waves, by Prince Karim Aga Khan, 49th Imam of the Nizarite Ismailite Muslims. He fell in love with it and became the architect of the transformation of that uncontaminated coast into a meeting point for the world’s jet set. “He entrusted the constructions to brilliant architects who, with original and innovative criteria, realized the harmonious synthesis between nature and human work – continues Tuveri -: the structures had to have sinuous shapes like the granite rocks smoothed over the millennia by atmospheric agents; the walls had to remain as raw as the granite; the height had not to exceed that of the rocky ridges; the colors had to recall the pink and gray of the stone, the gold of the beaches, the pastel colors of the Mediterranean scrub in spring. The Aga Khan founded the Alisarda airline (which later became Meridiana) and in 1696 he built the new Olbia-Costa Smeralda airport, which became the most important international airport on the island. He founded Porto Cervo and built its large port, where the most luxurious yachts dock every year.
If we exclude the wonderful coastal landscape that surrounds it, Porto Cervo has nothing Sardinian about it. Among glamorous clubs, boutiques and ultra-luxury jewelers, in the town it is worth seeing the Church of Stella Maris, a treasure trove of works of art (a Dutch aristocrat bequeathed to the church the Mater dolorosa by El Greco), and it is definitely intriguing to get lost among the small squares and narrow streets of the city center.
Among the most beautiful inlets reachable by land, Capriccioli Beach, a half-moon shaped bay, fine sand, Mediterranean maquis and shallow waters; Romazzino Beach, with its pinkish sand and the intoxicating scent of rosemary (hence the name) that grows in abundance here; Liscia Ruia beach, a long arch of fine, pale sand and crystal-clear water, from which one can glimpse the Hotel Cala di Volpe, the most exclusive on the island, a sumptuous Moorish-style complex..
From the northeast coast we move westward and sail to the Asinara National Park (the smallest of the three national parks of Sardinia), named after its most famous inhabitant, the white donkey. It can be reached only by participating in the excursions departing from Stintino or Porto Torrese, but it is worth it, especially for animal lovers. It is, in fact, a paradise for wildlife: in addition to the typical donkeys, other 80 species of animals live here, including the mouflon and the peregrine park.
For years the island hosted one of the most famous Italian maximum security prisons. The agricultural penal colony of Asinara had several detachments throughout the island: many dangerous criminals passed through here, including the Camorra boss Raffaele Cutolo and the Mafia boss Totò Riina. At Asinara stayed the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who spent a short period on the island for reasons of personal safety. At the time, the prison was considered a small Alcatraz: here only one prisoner managed to escape (on September 1, 1986) in its 112 years of activity. He was Matteo Boe, a Sardinian bandit kidnapper: during the escape his accomplice, Salvatore Duras, was captured while Boe managed to escape on board a rubber boat. The Super Jail was definitively closed in 1997..
Stintino is a small town of 1.600 inhabitants situated in the province of Sassari. Appreciated tourist destination, it is located a short distance from the island of Asinara and attracts visitors especially for its beautiful beaches and the natural beauty of the area, in particular the Asinara Nature Reserve. The peninsula of Stintino represents the extreme northwestern tip of Sardinia. This strip of land, a true paradise for lovers of the sea, stretches towards the island Piana and the island of Asinara from which it is separated by a shallow and clear sea.
The coasts of soft, shiny white sand and the shallow crystal clear sea of the east coast have made this area one of the most sought after in Italy. Here are the beautiful beaches of La Pelosa, which has nothing to envy to the tropical beaches, the “sister” La Pelosetta, Le Saline (where windsurfing), Ezzi Mannu, Tamerici, Cala Coscia, Cala Pazzona and Punta Negra. The western coast, instead, rocky and impervious, stands out on the sea from a height that varies from 10 to 150 meters. Among the cliffs there are several rocky coves such as Coscia di Donna and Cala del Vapore. In addition to the beaches, the peninsula has three important natural habitats, including the brackish oasis, inhabited by pink flamingos, the Red Heron, the Falco Grillaio and the Gorso Gull, the Casaraccio Pond, separated from the sea by a thin strip of sand, and the remains of ancient nuraghi.
The most famous beach of Stintino is the beach La Pelosa, one of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia, if not the most beautiful in absolute. Here in fact you will find clear waters that turn to all shades of blue and shallow waters for tens of meters that bathe a fine white sand, almost impalpable. Next to the ‘big sister’, there is the Pelosetta, closed by a small island dominated by an Aragonese tower (1578), the symbol of Pelosa. From a ‘terrace’ on the ‘tropical’ beach, at a height of two hundred meters, you can enjoy a unique view of the Piana island and the Asinara national park, uncontaminated and wild: Stintino is the nearest embarkation point to visit it. In the water the little fish that splash around even face to face with bathers are really many, and is therefore the perfect beach to visit in the company of children. A cheerful environment, full of colors, full of umbrellas and fish that swirl even near your feet, without going too far away from the shore. The price of parking is 1.50 euros per hour, but beware that in summer it can get really crowded. It is advisable to arrive very early in the morning or resign yourself to park miles away.
Since 2020, entrance to the beach has been capped and is accessed after registration via an app.
The maximum number of people who can enter the beach at the same time is 1500 people, while the beach entrance ticket is set at 3.50 euro per person, children up to 12 years of age are free of charge
How do I book?
- First of all, go to the lapelosastintino.com
- Then click on “Book now” and enter your booking details, including the number of people and the date you want to access La Pelosa beach.
- Once the payment has been made on the site, you will receive two emails::one is the payment receipt, the second is a summary of the tickets purchased and the QR code generated by the booking system which is useful for access.
- The QR Code can be shown by printing the e-mail received, or can be shown via smartphone at the Info point who will detect it with a special reader and hand out the bracelets.
The QR Code:
- The QR Codewill be valid for both a single booking or for a group booking, up to 8 people.
- Booking for a single day: The QR code can only be used once.
- Booking is for several days :the QR code can be used for the days booked and the user will receive a different bracelet each day when presenting himself at the Info point.
La Pelosa beach rules:
The rules already introduced in previous years remain valid, and we would like to briefly remind you of them:
- No waste disposal
- No smoking (except in specially designated smoking areas)
- Removing sand, shells and stones is forbidden
- No use of detergents and shampoos
- No street trading
- The use of mats is compulsory under beach towels
- It is necessary to use the special fountains to remove sand from your feet.
- Animals are not allowed during opening hours, from 8.00 to 20.00.
- For visitors who have booked the services, they are included in the daily ticket price.
Accoddi’s Mount and the nuraghe Santu Antine
From the north-western coasts, we travel inland from Sassari to encounter two sites not to be missed by those passing through these parts. Mount of Accoddi– we are in the Nurra – is an important archaeological site, attributed to the Abealzu-Filigosa Culture (2700-2400 BC), of pre-Nuragic Sardinia. Due to the concentration of different types of construction, the monument is considered unique not only in Europe, but in the entire area of the Mediterranean Sea, so particular as to be associated for its shape to the structures of several horizontal superimposed planes (the Mesopotamian ziqqurat). Not to be missed is the oldest prehistoric sacred altar in Europe.
In Torralba there is the Nuraghe of the monumental complex of Santu Antine (XV sec. a.C), cornerstone of the entire settlement system of the Nuraghi Valley. It represents the synthesis and apogee of the architecture of the Nuragic age. At the foot of the nuraghe lies the nuragic village, only partly brought to light by excavations. The huts underwent structural changes in the Roman period as early as the 2nd century BC and, after a brief period of abandonment (mid I century BC), a villa rustica was built on the southern structures of the village.
Going inland, we reach Nuoro. The town’s spectacular backdrop is Mount Ortobene (almost a thousand metres high), surmounted by the bronze statue of Christ the Redeemer, which has embraced the area since 1901. Cedrino Valley untilDorgali e Orgosolo. We are in Barbagia. The small Church of Solitude is worth visiting: despite 36 years of Roman life, Grazia Deledda, born in Nuoro, always cherished these places. Her remains are preserved here. “A visit to the Ethnographic Museum of Sardinian customs and traditions, a ‘cross-section’ of traditional culture, both material and immaterial, with clothes, jewellery, masks, textiles, work tools and references to traditional songs, devotion and festivals,” explains Elena Marcon, a scholar of Sardinian traditions. Not to be missed is the room dedicated to bread: “In Sardinia, bread is not just a food, it has a sacred value. It marks the crucial moments in life: birth, marriage, death, festivities.
Every moment has its own bread, which becomes sacred when it is worked with extreme precision until it becomes a jewel, with inlays of flowers, leaves, animals’. Then there is the part dedicated to costumes, all different: each country has its own, perfectly recognisable. There are the bright colours of the mountain Sardinians, the Armenian-influenced clothes of Orgosolo and Desulo, the burqa-like headdresses of the women of Ittiri and Osilo. The room dedicated to masks, which have nothing to do with the commonly understood carnival, is incredible: instead, they are inspired by ancestral rites of pastoral and peasant communities. There are zoomorphic and anthropomorphic masks, sheepskin jackets and cowbells (each mask can carry up to 30 kilos of them) which, with their claps, ward off evil spirits. The most famous are certainly the mamuthones of Mamoiada, cosy centre of 2500 inhabitants in the heart of the Barbagia di Ollolai, on the border between Gennargentu and Supramonte.
Gulf of Orosei
Just an hour’s drive from Orgosolo, the Golf of Orosei. Immense, magnificent landscapes, never the same, like an enormous mosaic: inaccessible peaks, green pastures, plateaus, canyons, age-old forests, cliffs overlooking crystal-clear waters, caves and beaches. From the mountains to the sea: the naturalistic oasis that includes the Gulf of Orosei and the Gennargentu massif is one of the most spectacular destinations in Sardinia, ideal for hiking and mountain biking. The protected area, established in 1998, covers 74 thousand hectares in the territory of 27 towns in Barbagia, Mandrolisai and Ogliastra: each municipality manages and safeguards its own portion of paradise. In the Gennargentu mountain system, Punta Lamarmora (1834 metres) and Bruncu Spina (1829) stand out, peaks from which the eye can sweep across the whole island. The massif is linked to limestone and dolomite plateaus, the supramontes of Orgosolo and Oliena, with the valley of Lanaittu and Mount Corrasi. Not to be missed are the forests of Uatzo, Montarbu and Montes, home to the centuries-old sas Baddes holm oak forest. All around are expanses of Mediterranean scrub: strawberry trees, junipers, mastic trees, accompanied by the scent of helichrysum, rosemary and aromatic shrubs. The most impervious areas are the habitat of mouflon, alongside which deer and fallow deer have ‘returned’. The wild boar is everywhere, accompanied by weasels, wild cats, dormice, hares, martens and foxes. Golden eagles and peregrine falcons fly over the highest ridges, and the Queen’s falcon soars over the cliffs overlooking the sea. Goshawks, woodpeckers, buzzards and sparrowhawks are also common. To the list of wonders that must be visited, we must add the karstic spring of su Gologone, the canyon of su Gorropu, with walls up to 450 metres high, the enormous dolina su Suercone, a sinkhole with centuries-old yew trees inside, the caves of su Bentu e sa Oche, Perda ‘e Liana, Perda Longa, su Sterru, su Texile and the nuragic village of Tiscali. The hills slope down to the sea, one of the most fascinating stretches of coastline in the Mediterranean: 40 kilometres from Cala Gononi (Dorgali) to Santa Maria Navarrese (Baunei) with spectacular sheer cliffs where caves, such as those of the Bue Marino (Sea Ox), glistening tangles of oleander and broom and enchanting coves open up: Fuili, Luna, Sisine, Biriola, Mariolu and Goloritzè. Whales and dolphins swim in the gulf, once the kingdom of the monk seal.
The community of Orgosolo has distinguished itself over the years for the great fortitude and combativeness of its inhabitants who, even in the last century, demonstrated how a small group of men animated by a strong will can change the fate of history.
Orgosolo reveals a deep link with its Barbagia roots and with the customs and traditions of the past. tenor singing, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the village of murals (listen to our podcast). The village of 4,500 inhabitants is famous all over the world for the evocative paintings that adorn its streets and squares, the houses in the historic centre and the facades of new buildings. They tell of politics and culture, intimate dissent and popular struggles, malaise and social justice, daily life and pastoral traditions. The first mural was created in 1969 by a group of Milanese anarchists belonging to a group called ‘Dionisio’. The real muralistic phenomenon began in the village in 1975, when Professor Francesco del Casino and his pupils from the Orgosolo secondary school started to create new murals. Subsequently, the contribution of other artists was added, including Pasquale Buesca from Orgosolo.
Most of Orgosolo’s murals are of a political nature, both local and international. The murals tell the story of the labours, denunciations and great achievements of the Orgosolo community, ranging from colourful descriptions of daily life in the village to the depiction of events and political struggles, some of which are world-wide. At the end of the 19th century, the village came into the limelight because of banditry: the director Vittorio De Seta, in Banditi a Orgosolo (1961), describes the fight in defence of the lands expropriated by the State. During the 20th century, the cultural ferment of muralism, originally an instrument of protest, developed and is still active today. Various artists, both local and international, have contributed to creating an open-air museum: it is possible to admire a heritage of 150 works, which are striking for their vivid colours and stylistic value. Another atavistic tradition is ‘su lionzu’, a refined bandage that frames the face in women’s clothes. Silk threads are used for the warp (made from locally bred silkworms), while the weft is coloured with saffron. There are two dates to look forward to: in August, sa Vardia ‘e mes’Austu, a wild horse race, and in mid-October, Gustos e Nuscos, the Orgosolo stage of Autunno in Barbagia: the welcome takes the form of ‘sa purpuzza’, an ancient meat recipe. The town lies at an altitude of around 600 metres on the slopes of Mount Lisorgoni, an offshoot of the Gennargentu massif, dominating the valleys crossed by the Cedrino river. All around is the spectacular and impervious landscape of Supramonte di Orgosolo: wild and unspoilt nature in the heart of Barbagia di Ollolai, to be explored accompanied by expert guides, on trekking paths beaten only by wind, wild boar and mouflon, for centuries the refuge of bandits and shepherds.
Going south, Ulassai. With a high percentage of long-lived people among its 1,500 inhabitants, it contributes to one of the world’s five blue zones (‘blue zone’ is a term used to identify a demographic and/or geographical area of the world where life expectancy is significantly higher than the world average) (listen to our podcast). Ulassai rises in the innermost part of Ogliastra, nestled almost 800 metres above sea level between limestone heels, on whose slopes, covered by evergreen forests and home to the Girisai wildlife oasis, are spectacular caves, such as is Lianas. And above all on Marmuri, ‘the marble’: you walk for 850 metres in halls with very high walls, small lakes and stalactites that join stalagmites to form enormous columns. To get to one of the most impressive in Europe, you walk along paths through deep gorges, a destination for free climbing professionals. Groundwater emerges from the caves and, below on Marmuri, forms the Lecorci waterfalls, which gush out impetuously from smooth walls. The path of the waters crosses the Lequarci waterfalls, the largest on the island, which jump almost a hundred metres with a maximum width of 70. Downstream, they flow into a myriad of small lakes in the locality of Santa Barbara. Here, in the middle of the forest, it is possible to visit a small Byzantine church. All around are ‘is cumbessias’, which served as accommodation for pilgrims during the celebrations of the saint.
Still today, they are the most heartfelt of the Ulassese community, with a procession at the end of May, accompanied by launeddas (a polychrome wind instrument with a beating reed) and folk groups, a festival with tasting of delicacies and a poetry competition. The village is an open-air museum, in harmony between town architecture, nature and works of art. The atmosphere is enhanced by the Art Station, which houses the “multiform genius” of the artist Maria Lai, Ulassai’s most famous town. Before the advent of the railway (1893) the village was not connected outside Ogliastra: its isolation has preserved atavistic traditions, such as the use of the horizontal loom, costumes and dances, artisan production of cheese and ham and bread-making in wood-fired ovens: there is one in every house. To the east, the valley of the Rio Pardu is cultivated with olive groves and vineyards, from which the renowned olive oil and cannonau are made. Also famous are the strawberry tree honey and typical dishes such as ‘culurgiones a sa spighitta’ (stuffed pasta closed like a spike) and ‘coccoi prena’ (a savoury stuffed pie).
Autumn in Barbagia – Cortes Appertas
This is an event, also known as Cortes apertas Sardegna, which allows you to discover the heart of Barbagia and Sardinia, that part of this magnificent region, more authentic and deeper through:
- the area
- typical cuisine
There have always been many dates (there was talk of Autumns in Barbagia), Many villages have always participated, many views and landscapes, many traditions and customs, many products and a lot of street food unique in the world – and not only street – but above all many genuine people to know and many moments to live, that will remain forever in the memories.
Cortes Apertas (literally Open courtyards) is an event that takes place on weekends between September and December in 27 municipalities of the Province of Nuoro.Once a week, in a different municipality, the historic houses of the village open their courtyards and a food and wine and artistic route takes place between them. Traditional trades such as wool processing, threshing, cleaning and wheat harvesting are represented in the various courtyards, while folk dancing and singing performances are staged in the village squares. Over time, the event has become one of the most important events in the tourist season for the municipalities. attracting tens of thousands of visitors from all over Sardinia.
The event was launched in 1996 in Oliena on the initiative of local entrepreneur Luigi Crisponi.. The first edition included a programme of cultural and tourist enhancement of the town’s historic centre through the rediscovery of the “cortes“, the courtyards of the old houses in which the two Barbagia villages are particularly rich, which should regain centrality in the revival and promotion of the historic centres of the small communities in the interior of the island, in order to combat a slow and inexorable abandonment. During the days of the event, the simple stone and lime houses, granite cortes, suitably tidied up and in some cases restored, are open to visitors, where they can display curious architectural examples, past life habits, working methods as well as the many local agricultural and craft products.
Given the success of the initiative, since 2000 it has gradually been extended to other municipalities in the area, taking on the name “Autunno in Barbagia“. The number of municipalities involved has gradually increased (9 in 2003, 15 in 2004, 25 in 2005, 27 in 2006), reaching the current number of 31 municipalities and one hamlet in 2017. (Lollove, municipality of Nuoro).
The declared aim of the event is to relaunch tourism in the inland areas of Sardinia in the low season of autumn.
For five centuries now, every year during the nights of the first of May and the fourth of October, the feast of St Francis has been held in Lula. Faithful pilgrims walk along the roads of Lula to reach the sanctuary of the saint on the hill dominated by Mount Albo. In the atmosphere of recollection and spirituality, a delicacy is transferred from the hands of the women to the plates of the pilgrims: su filindeu, the threads of God, a soup that warms the body and nourishes the soul. Semolina, water, salt, sheep’s broth and cheese. It is passed down from mother to daughter, prepared in groups, with neighbours and grandchildren. The dough is divided, a small piece is taken in the hand, pulled and the two ends joined together. And then the first two threads appear. They are pulled and rejoined. And so on, eight times, until you have 256. They are taken and laid out on the wooden base until there are three layers, intertwined. Once dried in the sun, the dough is broken up, dipped into the tasty broth and mixed with fresh cheese. This is a rare dish, served very hot, and its custodians are a few women who donate their time to teach its passion.
Carasau bread also has ancient roots. Known in Italy as ‘carta da musica’ (music paper) because of its sonorous crunchiness, carasau also conceals a collective history of commitment, prayer and joy. Its preparation began before dawn and ended in the afternoon, with friends, relatives and neighbours as protagonists. People prayed for the dough to rise well, making a cross on the still soft dough and making prayers to preserve its success. Then the dough was put in the oven and there, for hours on end, amidst the fragrance and flour-white hands, stories were told, people confided in each other and laughed.
The final stage, the ‘carasadura’, or roasting, was the final verdict, thanks to which the women could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Suddenly they had something to give to feed and care for family and friends. Crunchy and good even after many days, this bread has been an ever-present guest on Sardinian tables for centuries, as a symbol of goodness and sharing.
Bread, pasta, meat, fish, desserts. The Sardinian food and wine tradition is extremely rich. With a sheep population of around 4 million, one of the top products has to be the production of pecorino (with almost 5,000 years of experience in the field, Sardinia produces about 80 per cent of Italy’s sheep’s cheese), especially in Barbagia and Ogliastra, which are also home to excellent goat’s cheese production. These range from spicy to smoked pecorinos, creamy goat’s milk cheeses to ricottas, not forgetting specialities such as canestrati, cheeses flavoured with peppercorns and aromatic herbs. Among the cow’s milk varieties, fresa, a soft cheese, and peretta, a spun-paste provola, stand out.
If you wish (and if you can), you can go as far as the casu marzu, the cheese swarming with worms: this is a soft goat’s cheese deliberately infested with the larvae of the cheese fly, known as the cheese fly, whose digestive acids break down the fat in the cheese, accelerating fermentation and rapidly causing it to decompose. The pungent-tasting liquid that exudes from the cheese is called a lagrima. For connoisseurs, it is the tastiest cheese in the world. Although this cheese is considered an “Italian agri-food product” and is therefore excluded from the hygiene rules imposed by the European Union, it is illegal to serve and sell it. It is usually produced for private consumption.