Seven days at the end of August exploring the Wild Sardinia Island and its less known places.
Night ferry trip leaving from Livorno. About seven hours to get to Olbia.
Arrived in the early morning we drove about 1 h to get to our base in San Teodoro; very touristic place, but central to many destinations.
Due to very strong Mistral winds and bad weather we couldn’t leave our base the first day.
Second day we decided to explore the famous Islands of La Maddalena and Caprera, located north coast.
La Maddalena has been for years home to many american military bases which are now dismantled. However, the Italian military bases are still present on the island today.
The small harbour town of La Maddalena is a little gem that worth a visit.
The coast and the sea don’t need any introduction.
Caprera is linked to La Maddalena by a road bridge.
Exploring Caprera, you can reach the southernmost tip of the island, Punta Rossa. Here is located an imposing old military powder kiln, dating back to the II World War, which was used to guarantee the supply ammunition to ships and vessels as well as being an important stop for maritime traffic between Sardinia and Corsica since the 18th century.
Once the sky cleared up we decided to go to Barbagia Area. The Barbagia is a mountain area of inner Sardinia. It is a natural region mostly belonging to the province of Nuoro.
Most of the area is wild free, almost untouched by humans.
This area has been for years considered the strong symbol of the Sardinian independence and self-determination.
For centuries was strongly believed that Romans and ancient civilizations have never been able to take possession of this part of the island, until recent discoveries.
Romans called it the land of the barbarians, because it was a unique, mysterious land, made of mountains, hidden caves, impenetrable forests and deep gorges.
I felt like being in a huge Jurassic Park. Not the film but a real prehistoric one. Look at this.
Sardinia is well known for its beautiful crystal clear sea, but there is definitely more than that.
In a broader sense the Barbagia also includes the Supramonte, the Ogliastra and the territory of Urzulei and Baunei. The morphology of these lands is characterized impressive massifs: the Gennargentu whose peak, called La Marmora peak, reaches 1834 m; the Supramonte which with Mount Corrasi stands at 1463 m.
Hours of driving into the mountains took us here. The Baunei natural reserve. A wide plateau covered with a dark casting of Pleistocene basaltic lava where animals like donkeys, horses, pigs and boars live free.
Here an abyss, in the center of the quiet and ancient Ogliastra plateau, among dark rocks, limestone and Mediterranean vegetation, nature has given proof of an unbearable, mysterious force.
Its vertiginous height of 270 meters makes su Sterru the Europe’s deepest single-span chasm. Formed in the heart of the Golgo plateau (400 meters high), the chasm is a place rich of mysteries and ancient legends. According to a legend, there was once a snake’s lair (Su Scultone), whose menace was warded off by building in the 17th century the nearby church of San Peter.
The cavity is actually the habitat of the tame Sardinian cave salamander, an amphibian adapted to this location, accompanied by the porrohomma spider and a few terrestrial crustaceans.
Baunei Town perched on the side of the mountain
We drove down the mountains and ended up at Arbatax, a very remote place. At least in the appearance.
Our day trip finish here and after 3 hours of driving we get back to the base at San Teodoro.
Next day we stayed around and relax before the next Sardinian adventure.
5th day destination North coast towards the extreme north west corner: Asinara Island.
First short stop to a Nuraghe.
It is important to remember that Sardinia hosted the Nuragic civilization which lasted from the 18th century BCE (Bronze Age) to the 2nd century BCE. The civilization’s name comes from its most characteristic building: the nuraghe, a tower-fortress type of construction built starting from about 1800 BCE. Today about 7,000 nuraghes dot the Sardinian landscape.
To arrive at our first main stop: Castelsardo. Magical place.
Back in Tula for the night, a small village nearby Coghinas Lake the second biggest one of the region.
6th day destination Stintino touristic harbour to set out for Asinara Island.
Asinara is 52 km2 (20 sq mi) in area. The name is Italian for “donkey-inhabited”, but it is thought to derive from the Latin sinuaria, and meaning sinus-shaped. The island is basically uninhabited. The census of population in 2001 lists one man.
The island is located off the north-western tip of Sardinia, characterized by a mountainous morphology with steep, rocky coasts.
Fresh water is scarce, trees are sparse and low scrub is the predominant vegetation.
The Island is part of the national parks system of Italy, it was recently converted to a wildlife and marine preserve.
It is home to a population of wild Albino donkeys from which the island may take its name. You will meet it almost everywhere during your trip, along with mouflons, wild boars, horses and birds, including the Audouin’s gull, the European shag, the peregrine falcon and the magpie. 678 species, of which 29 are native ones.
Until 1997 the island was a famous maximum security prison, hosting the most feared criminals in the country.
Its history is full of stories and it’s worth a visit. Remember that you can only explore the Island by booking your experience to have access both independently or with a guide.
You will be able to enjoy the marked trails by mountain bike, on horseback, in an jeep or by tourist train.
The Island has also an uninhabited small village called Cala d’Oliva, a gem.
After the whole day spent on the Asinara Island we went back to Tula our temporary base to then drive back to San Teodoro the day after.
Our wild trip ended up with this beautiful view on our way back.
Photo credits: Giulio Aprin