The area of South Sardinia is known for various features present also in other areas of the island and Italy, but it has many identity elements that deserve to be discovered. Below you will find relevant information, especially to discover the more crossed sites by the most tested routes in cycling. We tasted all tracks and we have narrated everything while we were doing it. We split our narration into each municipality crossed, so simplify your consultation also to smaller region, to retrace our journey and read them in sequence. Municipalities crossed:
We choose Cagliari as a base for our first stop especially for its convenient position, but we immediately realized how beautiful it is and we propose to spend here the last few days before leaving the island. We do have time to visit the historic district of Castello, which means “the castle” but that is actually more a citadel fortified by Pisa in the Middle Ages, then conquered by the Spanish and then the seat of the viceroys of Piedmont. Castello, which explains the Sardinian name of the town “Casteddu”, delights us for its narrow streets developed as a maze on the slopes of the highest hill of Cagliari. We climb the White Tower of San Pancrazio, which offers a breathtaking view, ranging from the plain of Campidano, to the east coast of Villasimius (destination of our first stop!) to the west coast towards Pula (last stop on our tour). The sunny day with a fresh breeze shows us Cagliari and its lagoons with its myriad of colours: the pinkish basins of the saltworks of Molentargius and the greenish slopes of the hill of Monte Urpinu. In piazza Palazzo (the square of the Palaces) we visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria and Santa Cecilia, the heart of Castello, and we walk down to the rampart of the Bastione Saint Remy, a wonderful panoramic terrace overlooking the city and especially the small square Piazza Costituzione from which we could admire the monumental façade of the bastion. We have lunch in a lovely restaurant in via Sardegna in the Marina district and we order strictly seafood specialties typical of this area. After lunch we have a walk along the harbor and nice wood walkway wood that reach the port of Su Siccu just in front of the beautiful Basilica of Bonaria.
Our tour around the south of Sardinia could not start from a better place. The starting point that we chose and that will take us to cross Sardinian landscapes between beaches, Mediterranean maquis, archaeological sites and abandoned mines is the Sardinian capital, Cagliari. More precisely its long beach, the Poetto, extended between the open sea and the pond of Molentargius. 8km of white sand split between the territories of Cagliari and Quartu Sant'Elena. Although this is a town beach, its shoreline is tidy and the water is crystal. The bottom is very low for several meters which enables pleasant walks on the water. The Poetto is dominated by the Sella del Diavolo, a promontory with a particular shape. According to ancient legend, in this gulf took place a battle between angels and demons led by Lucifer. Apparently the archangel Michael shoved Lucifer which was unhorsed while his saddle falling on the top of hill was immediately petrified, leaving the imprint as we can see still nowadays. The angels instead continue to protect the entire bay, called for that reason also Gulf of Angels. From here we start to border the beach along the new lane for cyclists and athletes: a long red carpet. About halfway of the Poetto there is the first of many coastal towers we supposed to encounter on our journey. This tower is called Torre di Mezza Spiaggia (Tower Half Beach), due to its location could communicate with other towers scattered over this part of the coast to warn about approaching Saracens enemies, which for centuries has invaded and plundered the Sardinian populations of coastal villages. Next to the tower it stands an abandoned building which was an old hospital. Close to the new hospital we decide to turn left to get closer to the pond Molentargius in order to spot as many pink flamingos as possible. Here these smart animals dance, moving their long legs looking for food in the mud of the pond and plunging their head with the big beak. Some are really close to the road and we are surprised of how they continue to eat and toddle despite the traffic noise. In the background there are abandoned structures, machinery and buildings that housed the former salt-works of Cagliari, which have been turned into a protected natural park. Probably flamingos are aware to be so special and are at ease in this lagoon in the middle of the city instead to be scared!
At the end of the salt-work and the Poetto beach, we arrive at the furthest point of the coast called Margine Rosso (Red Margin), where begins the long coastal road that will take us up to the popular destination of Villasimius. Firstly we cross before some villages and hamlets, llages vacation homes summer, and finally we arrive at the coast near Capitana. The view is breathtaking and the effort of the first climbs and bends is relieved by the beauty of the landscape. The sea is stunning with its shades of color ranging from cobalt blue to emerald green, passing by the turquoise. The high cliffs and coves are surrounded by the Mediterranean maquis typical of the area. From this area we distinguish the Devil's Saddle but which looks more square shaped than the initial harmonious form. Among the many coves and beaches we crossed, we have been struck by the charming Mari Pintau. His name worth a thousand explanations: Painted Sea. Thanks to the sunny day we can admire this spectacle of nature and we decided to grant a first stop in this small beach. The dirt road surrounded by Mediterranean bushes increases the value of this cove so beloved by people from Cagliari. The beach is heterogeneous, consisting of fine sand and white pebbles and gravel of different sizes. We reluctantly leave this enchanted place and passed Geremeas we are in the territory of Torre delle Stelle. The village, only to vacation rentals, is perched on the hill overlooking the sea, dominated by an imposing Spanish tower. The dirt roads, dedicated to constellations, stars and planets, enable to reach the two sandy beaches: Cann'eSisa in the north and Genna 'Mari in the south. Always from the coastal road we spot the long golden beach of Solanas, which is also dominated by its Spanish tower on the promontory of Capo Boi. The climb ahead is complex and difficult with a series of switchbacks particularly steep. Once we reached the top, the breathtaking view of the coast relieves again the effort. From this point we leave the Bay of Angels behind us to delve into the territory of Villasimius, or in the Sardinian language Crabonaxa as indicated by the road sign!
After the promontory of Capo Boi and the welcome sign of the town of Villasimius, the descent offers a beautiful view of the landscape that stretches from the granite mountains to the blue sea. Porto Sa Ruxi is the first beaches we cross and we can distinguish the marina of Villasimius, the Spanish tower on the promontory of Capo Carbonara and the lighthouse in the island of Cavoli. At the centre of Villasimius there are numerous restaurants, hotels Bed and Breakfast, that are an excellent base for visiting the many beaches of the area. Among the many beaches suggested (from the wild Punta Molentis to the busiest Simius), we decided to visit to the beach of Porto Giunco. Along the walkway that skirt the pond Notteri, enjoying the scenery, we reach easily the shore. We discover that the beach is just a strip of fine white sand that divides the pond, often frequented by flamingos, from the open sea. The beach is dominated by an imposing Spanish tower on the promontory which offers an unforgettable panorama that stretches from the islands of Serpentara and Cavoli to the granite mountains and the colourful Mediterranean shrubs. Never tired of the beauty of this area, we reach the small and hidden cove of Cava Usai, on the other side of the hill. The cove is fascinating for its special atmosphere. Here it was extracted and loaded on boats the well-known granite of Villasimius, used for the construction of buildings in Italy and abroad. Abandoned in the fifties, the quarry is now a jewel nestled in the promontory of Capo Carbonara, where the blinding white pebbles contrast with the deep blue sea.
Departed from the lovely village of Villasimius, we continue our journey along the coastal road running till to Muravera. After crossed Cala Pira and Cala Sinzias, we leave the coastline to the inland and we reach Castiadas. In the second half of the nineteenth century there was a penal colony, which apparently gave the name to the locality of Costa Rei, otherwise Costa dei Rei, nowadays one of the most sought tourist destinations of southern Sardinia. We resist to the temptetion to dive into this crystal seawater of the famous beach of the Rock of Peppino, and we continue our journey towards Muravera. Passed through Olia Speciosa and Camisa, close to San Priamo we turn to the pond of Colostrai. Even this wetland attracts the gorgeous pink flamingos. We skirt the lagoon and reach the Spanish Tower of Ten horses which is said to have been manned by ten knights that they were supposed to allert all the inland population immediately after the sighting the enemy. Different from the other towers, this is the unique that has the circular tower built on a rectangular base with a door accessible perfectly on horseback. Reached the SS125, we continue to ride to reach Muravera.
Muravera is one of the most important town in the region of Sarrabus. In the small old town we visit the parish church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari and the Church of Saint Lucia. This last one was part of the old village of Petrera, now renamed District Saint Lucia. Walking around the streets of the center we come across a picturesque porch, Porch Petrettoche that it is said it has been built by the family, that lived in the houses on both side of the road, needed to cross the street during heavy downpours. In the historical center we visited a typical house of the Sarrabus area, Sa Domu de isCandelajus, a time travel into the nineteenth century life of the rich owners Pilia.
Leaving behind us Muravera we continue our journey to Orroli. Continuing on the SS387 we ride along the river Flumendosa, one of the most important rivers of Sardinia. The landscape begins to be more uneven, showing beautiful mountain panorama. What most impressed us is Mount Lora, about 5 km from San Vito. The profile of the mountain is reminiscent of a sleeping woman; the resemblance is so stunning that some have renamed it "the Sphinx"! The lush and pristine environment of these mountains and Flumendosa river, always at our right side of the road, accompany us to the village of Ballao. We are surrounded by the forests of oak and cork, mixed with the ever-present Mediterranean shrubs with its colors and …scents!
Through the center of Ballao, we continue our journey towards north. For a while we don’t see the Flumendosa river but we find it immediately after passing another small village, Escalaplano. From the road, on our left, we see the Lake Mulargia, reservoir which, with the Flumendosa river, is essential for irrigation of agricultural fields in the area but also throughout the Campidano, the plain extending from Cagliari to Oristano. We continue our ride on the SP10 and before reaching the town of Orroli, we cannot miss to visit the majestic nuraghe Arrubiu. This nuraghe has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site and unique in its genre. Although Sardinia is dotted with these megalithic buildings in the whole territory, the Nuraghe Arriubiu ("Arrubiu" means precisely "red" in Sardinian language, the color of the stones with which it is built) is the only five-lobed nuraghe that has been found so far: therefore there is a central tower and the five towers and walls are around to defend it. We are spellbound by the nuraghe and the atmosphere of mystery that convey all the nuraghi here in Sardinia. We continue towards Orroli, just 6 km from the archaeological site.
The town of Orroli is definitely famous for the majestic nuraghe Arrubiu, which worth a visit. In the old town we saw the typical houses called Campidanesi, with large inner courtyards (“sa lolla” in Sardinian language) and large front doors where were generally carved the initials of the owners or the emblems of the practiced work. We visit the parish church of St. Vincent Martyr and St. Nicholas and we relax before resuming our long ride at Terra Sarda! Orroli is served by the famous Green Train, which runs through the Sardinia from Mandas to Arbatax, town overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. The narrow gauge route crosses one of the most green and unspoiled part of the island. Despite the temptation to take the train and be lulled, we go up again on our bikes in the direction of Barumini. From the begining we have covered about 150 km, between beaches, mountains, rivers and ancient nuraghi.
We continue our journey and we cross the village of Nurri, 600 m above sea level. We stop to visit the parish church of San Michele Arcangelo and here a nice old man approached. He is intrigued by our cycling equipment and asked us where we're headed. He wasn’t really interested to our answer, his goal was more to let us taste the cheeses produced by his son. We are delighted by the quality of his products and the old man said us proudly that Nurri boasts one of the most modern processing plants for milk in the island. After accepting a glass of good wine, we have to say goodbye: the road to be covered is still long. It was very nice to spend some time with him. The Sardinian people amaze us with their hospitality.
The countryside is scattered with fields and olive groves and suddenly the road runs along railways. We saw one train almost running close us (its speed is so moderate that seems a little train of an entertainment park) and schoolchildren on board greet us.
We cross the villages of Escolca and Gergei and between the two towns we bump into a flock of sheep accompanied by their faithful shepherd dogs which want to play with us and they start to chase us. Reached Gergei we took a brief stop to visit the main church of San Vito in the Gothic Revival style and admire a beautiful reredos dedicated to Santa Maria. We take advantage of our break to taste the famous oil of Gergei "Mallocria", winner of regional and national awards and strongly praised by their producers. Satisfied by the break we run the last ten kilometers that separate us from our stage, Barumini.
We stopped here one night thus we have the chance to visit the Unesco archaeological site and recover for the next leg. Barumini is a pretty village at the foot of the Giara, in the geographic region of Marmilla. In the village we visit the charming Casa Zapata. This is a rare example of civil architecture under Spanish Renaissance influence, but what is more surprising is the fact that inside they are found the remains of a nuraghe. It is impressive to note that this very old building has been buried by the latest Spanish buildings and then magically brought to light during complex archaeological excavations. With the same combined ticket we can visit the jewel of Barumini, the monumental complex of Su Nuraxi and Casa Zapata. The excavations of the fifties have unearthed a majestic fortress around which was developed the nuragic village. We listen carefully to the guide that explains with passion the mysterious history and almost unknown Nuragic culture and in particular this site: He took us through the streets of the village and in the interior of the nuraghe. The stones used are incredibly huge and the site was supposed to be even more amazing because the building was much higher before the Carthaginians, Romans influences and the passing of time. We buy some souvenirs but aware that the best memory will be kept in our hearts for such incredible experience!
On the road that leads us to Tuili, we decide to divert to visit the theme park of "Sardegna in miniatura", where you can do the full tour of Sardinia by foot or by a little boat that circumnavigates the island. After the visit we continue our real tour much more difficult and exciting. Crossing the old town of Tuili we can admire the many portals, dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, all made by local stonemasons. Generally in the dwelling of the most wealthy citizens there are portals with arches and massive gates, or other without arches with more humble doors called “costallas”.
Quitted the town of Tuili, we crossed cultivated lands till the small village of Pauli Arbarei, whose Sardinian name Pauli (swamp) refers to the origin of this territory, a reclaimed wetland. The name of the center of Lunamatrona would seem to derive from the pagan worship of the Queen-Moon, while according to others comes from the cult of the Roman goddess Juno. After a few kilometers we reached Villanovaforru, village of Spanish foundation. The old town is characterized by houses that retain the typical architectural features of homes called Campidanesi (from de Campidano plain). In the hall of ex Monte Granatico (former wheat bank), we visit the small but well-finished Archaeological Museum which collect votive objects dating back to Punic and Roman age, mostly dedicated to the cult of Demeter and Kore.
We pass through the small town of Collinas, famous because between December and January is transformed into a real "live nativity scene" by hosting an exhibition of nativity scenes in which is involved the entire population, from young to old people.
So we reach the center of Sardara, in the center of Campidano plain, strategic point since ancient times. Its territory is scattered with more than twenty nuragic sites and in the downtown there is the complex of St. Anastasia, which testifies the Nuragic presence followed by the Phoenicians and Punics. Sardara is actually famous for its hot springs, known since Nuragic period and exploited largely by the Romans who founded the populous urban center of AquaeNeapolitanae. Healing waters, rich in therapeutic properties, are still in use today thanks to the systems of the city's thermal baths and the most luxurious baths of Sardara, just outside the town. They make diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation treatments or simply you can spend a few days to relax and pamper yourself with some beauty treatments. These ancient thermal waters could be a boon to regenerate our pedaling effort, but we put aside the idea to avoid being abducted from this oasis of calm for days and slow down our roadmap. However, we visited the Museum of Villa Abbas and had a walk in the picturesque old town with the neat and cobbled streets with typical houses made with "ladiri" (unfired brick masonry).
Passing after the “Terme di Sardara”, we cross Pabillonis, where during the World War II, shortly before the armistice of September 1943, the airfield was bombed by hundreds of allied aircraft.
After ten kilometers we finally reach Guspini not far away from the end of our stage: Montevecchio. The small town of Guspini is located between the flat area and hillside, that has marked our last leg, and reliefs of Iglesias, where we will continue our journey. Since our tour continue to Montevecchio and the nearby town of Arbus, before to leave Guspini we make a little detour to see the famous columnar basalt in the area of Cuccureddu ‘e Zeppara. The geological formation is fascinating for its majesty and particularity: the mountain appears as a large pipe organ ready to unleash some ancestral music. Only a few other places in Europe can boast of basalt formations of this beauty, and we certainly did not want to miss the chance to admire so closely. Back on our bikes, we are ready to face the steep hairpin turns that lead us to the mining village of Montevecchio.
We spend the night in a comfortable agritourim in the village of Montevecchio. Speaking with the locals we discover that Montevecchio is just a tiny fraction divided between the municipalities of Arbus and Guspini. The village, inhabited by a few hundred people, is surrounded by the woods of Genna Serapis (the gate of Serapis). After the opening of the mine Montevecchio, the village was founded. The mine came into operation in the mid-nineteenth century and remained in business for about 150 years. The mine, of lead and zinc, is part of the Geo-mining Park, Historical and Environmental Sardinia, recognized by UNESCO. We are curious about the history of this mine thus we decided to extend our stay for a few hours to follow the four itineraries of visit: the beautiful Management residence, in the village center, and the three downstream working areas, that we saw along the switchbacks from Guspini. We remain fascinated by the atmosphere of the site, from luxurious houses of the mine director’s family, till the most humble of the miners’ houses, to the characteristic working area of Piccalinna. At the agritourism we met a nice French couple who invite us to go, by car, to the beach of Piscinas after lunch! We cannot refuse even if it means slowing down the roadmap: the gorgeous view of landscape is definitely worth it. The beach, and even before reaching the shore, is dominated by vast sand dunes created by wind mistral. The following day, we relaxed to be ready for the sixth stage of our tour that will take us to Buggerru.
From Montevecchio we took the road towards Arbus. Along the way, clung on the sloped of the hill, we saw several buildings, the former houses of the miners. From there, every day the miners used to walk to the mine. We cross Arbus, famous for its production of knives with a curved blade, arresojas, produced by local craftsmen. In the Museum of the Sardinian Knife, in the town center, you can admire the largest jackknife in the world, entered the Guinness Book of Records twice!
From Arbus to Buggerru we are welcomed by the metallic riliefs of territory Iglesiente and we cross an area characterized by cultivated fields mixed with pastures, woods, Mediterranean . In short, nature is the host and we are happy to be soothed by its colors and scents. We don’t encounter towns or human presences except for few agritourism that sprouting occasionally surrounded by nature. Continuing our descent on the sea on SP83 we reached Portixeddu. We skirt the long beach, accompanied by the thunderous sound of breaking waves which crash against the high cliffs. We finally reach Buggerru.
As Montevecchio, Buggerru was also founded in the second half of the nineteenth century as a mining village. Recently the village managed to turn into tourism field, thanks to the opening of a strategic marina (unique stopover between Carloforte and Oristano). But the history of the mine is preserved in the memory of this place, well-known for being the scene of the first strike of miners leaded by the trade union (the revolt of Buggerru of 4 September 1904) which was also the first general strike in Italy. The small port is dominated by the Galleria Henry (1865), once traveled by a steam train that transported the ore extracted from the nearby mines. Staying in Buggerru we can reach the nearby bay of Cala Domestica, one of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia. It is located at the bottom of a rocky fiord guarded by a Spanish tower.
Continuing our tour we cross the wonderful mining towns of Masua and Nebida, both part of the municipality of Iglesias. Masua offers an unmissable jewel of engineering : Porto Flavia, a mining port built clung on the cliff that overlooks the sea. 600 meters of gallery carved inside the snow-white mountain which ends up at the outdoor terrace of the harbor overlooking the sea. The view is breathtaking. In front of us the most impressive natural monument of the whole Sulcis: Pan di Zucchero. It is an imposing limestone cliff which dominates the landscape with unexpected color contrasts.
Nebida, a former mining town, is nowadays an exciting tourist destination. The country still has the original traces of mining: the infirmary, the workers' recreational club, the management building and the administrative offices. We decide to still enjoy the scenery of the sea with the view of the Pan di Zucchero and we take a short stroll along the ring walkway overlooking the sea. From the terrace it is possible to spot the ruins of mining washery La Marmora, recognized UNESCO monument. It is still visible its stone walls, the large arches and the two tall chimneys. View from the sea it appears as a real jewel nestled in the rock, ranging from yellow to purple.
Leaving the beautiful coast of Nebida and Masua, we run into the inland and reach Gonnesa.
As many countries of Sulcis, Gonnesa was also founded during the mining era. Since ancient times, the area has attracted the people from the Sea (Phoenician, Punic, Roman) that found rich ore deposits of zinc, lead, copper and silver. In the nineteenth century several mines were founded, such as that of Monte San Giovanni which is less than 5 kilometers from the north-east of Iglesias. Not far from the site you can visit the wonderful cave of Santa Barbara, able to charm the visitor with its columns of stalactites, stalagmites and aragonite arabesques.
We continue towards Portoscuso, that we reach after 15 km, after crossing the industrial area of Portovesme.
Once in Portoscuso we walk through the streets and along the harbor, from where we will take the ferry to Carloforte. Portoscuso is a lovely little town and in one of the squares we find a carved stone, where engraved in the Sardinian language we read the poetry of a Sardinian writer that we loved: "chi custa pedra siat unu cantu de vida, sa domu de sa luxi, unu ponti de spera, chi fait passai s’amori de is manus tuas a is mias " (This stone is a song of life, the house of the light, a bridge of hope that let pass my love from your hands to mine). Over the music of these words, we board the ferry to the island of San Pietro, where we visit Carloforte.
On board the ferry we get to the island of San Pietro. Luckily the wind that was blowing in Buggerru dropped and the crossing was smooth. Ahead of us there are the islands of Piana and Ratti. On board the ferry we begin to hear an accent and a melody totally different from the Sardinian inflection of which we were became familiar in this last days!. Some passengers from Carloforte speak an incomprehensible language to us (not that Sardinian language was so clear actually!) And we realize that we are leaving Sardinia to reach ... Liguria! The ship will bring in an enclave of Liguria when Carloforte was founded in 1738. The town appears as a picturesque and colorful village; houses and buildings have cheerful facades and the streets are tidy and regular. Immediately after the disembark, we head straight to the tourist center to get some more information on the history of the village. So we discover that during the sixteenth century a group of families from Pegli, in Liguria, set off on to Tabarka, on the coast of Tunisia, with the purpose of fishing and trade the precious coral. But two centuries after relations with the Bey of Tunis degenerated and these people were forced to ask to Charles Emmanuel III (king of Sardinia and Piedmont kingdom) to grant the island of San Pietro where they settled. Thus he was founded Carloforte, dedicated to the great generosity of the King of Sardinia-Piedmont. We get lost in the maze of narrow streets of the country and we are enraptured from the local cuisine, especially for fresh bluefin tuna, famous throughout the island, boasted during the festival of Girotonno that takes place in early summer.
We stayed in a nice B & B and the next day, before leaving the island, we rode skirting the former salt pans and reached the promontory Punta Colonna and the promontory overlooking the beach Mezza Luna (Half Moon). The spectacle of the cliffs overlooking the sea is breathtaking and bring to our mind the green Irish cliffs. Coming back to the town we pass again along the salt marshes where we see a group of flamingos dancing with their head under water seeking for food! We have to continue and so we take again the ferry, but this time, toward Calasetta that is on the island of Sant'Antioco.
The Ligurian and Tabarkina inflection follows us up to Calasetta, also founded, few years after Carloforte, by people from Pegli. The country appears similar as a little village of the Greek coasts: its houses are totally white with turquoise windows. Before continuing towards Sant'Antioco, we climb up to the tower that dominates the town. The first tower of our trip which is not Spanish! This was in fact built by the Piedmontese in the eighteenth century to defend the channel between the islands of Sant'Antioco and San Pietro against the attacks of Saracens from Africa. At the base of the tower we see the cannons that were used in case of sighting or attack the enemy. From the headland, the landscape stretches from the island of San Pietro to the open sea, to the white beach of Sottotorre, just below us.
We continue our ride and reach the main town of the island, Sant'Antioco. The town was founded by the Phoenicians under the name “Sulki”, name of which gives the current name of the Sardinia sub-region: Sulcis. We take a stroll at the downtown and we visit the church dedicated to Sant'Antioco, patron Saint of Sardinia. The picturesque old town is spread along tidy and parallel streets , following the ancient structure of Roman roads. Indeed, after the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, also the Romans settled in this island, testified by the ruins of a bridge that we see just before leaving the island. Yes, the island of Sant'Antioco despite being the fourth largest island of Italy is ... united to Sardinia! There is a small isthmus from the main island which stretches till to reach the island of Sant’Antioco. Paradoxically, it can be defined an island just for a short stretch of sea overpassed by the new bridge, just over 50 meters !!
We continue our ride along the isthmus and the Pond of Santa Caterina, we are back in Terra Sarda!
After 30 km we reach the ancient village of Tratalias. Having read about it among the nicest territory of Sulcis we are curious and we don’t want to miss this charming hamlet. The medieval village has a long history. Recently abandoned after the construction of a nearby reservoir that caused severe infiltration of moisture in the houses, forcing to evacuate to build a new Tratalias not far from this original center. Because of its fame of ghost town it is perceived a thrilling atmosphere. The houses are few and small, and so stands out even more the majesty the cathedral of Santa Maria, which was the seat of the medieval diocese. Some of the houses nowadays house craft workshops where you can buy artifacts, from ceramics to knives, to ancestral weaving. We say goodbye to Tratalias, it's time to come back into the present time.
Still few kilometers and we conclude our second to last stage: Sant'Anna Arresi. Running on our bilke we cross many cultivated fields but even more vineyards. We want absolutely to taste the much more praised wine: “Carignano del Sulcis”! Along the way we cross many small villages with funny and incomprehensible names ... Cannigonis, IsCuccus, IsLais.
We finally arrive at Sant'Anna Arresi, where the small Nuraghe stand in the middle of the main square between the two churches dedicated to St. Anne. It can be considered small only if it is compared with the majestic Nuraghe Arrubiu of Orroli and Su Nuraxi of Barumini. Despite the different historical periods the complex seems harmonious and perfect, like the name of the village that combines the Nuragic period (Arresi) with the Christian (St. Anne). Around the country we meet a large number of soldiers with the uniform. Indeed, not far from here there is the military base of NATO Join Strike Force, scene of several military exercises, often not digested by the local. The country experienced a situation of love-hate with the base, because the economy of Sant'Anna Arresi is based partly on tourism and on the other by the revenue made by the presence of the soldiers. The most famous beach in the area is Porto Pino, a few kilometers from the village and partly inside the base (a part of the beach is off limits for swimmers during the winter but opens from June to September). We decide to reach the most extreme part of the beach to see closely the immense white sand dunes that characterize Porto Pino.
We drive along the SP73 and on the way we cross two other villages by funny names, IsCinus and IsPillonis. As we advised the owner of B & B Sant'Anna Arresi where accommodation, just before arriving at the center of the resort of Porto Pino, turn left and take a track that crosses the white and dusty literally the two ponds, one of IsBrebeis ( sheep in Sardinia) and the pond of Porto Pino. Every time we meet some home and real villas, probably holiday homes. We can spot some fenicotteroe cormorants and continue to travel the road, dotted with cute signs inviting motorists to go slow to avoid raising dust; one of them says "slow down, the sea will not run away." We arrive at a clearing set up to accommodate a large parking lot, but with our bike we can continue on another dirt road is stone that leads to the beach. The view is wonderful: the fine white sand seems to flour to the touch, while the shallow water of the sea is tinged with a thousand shades of blue, turquoise, green and blue. We relax at the base of a small dune and although it is forbidden to walk on the dunes to us so that's fine. We enjoy the scenery in silence, every word would be wasted to describe the beauty of this enchanted place.
Our last stop will be almost totally on the coastal road, 50 km with the sea view. Along the way we will cross the most beautiful beaches in the south of Sardinia, like those of Teulada, Chia, Santa Margherita di Pula. Leaving behind us Sant'Anna Arresi we start to run along road sulcitana 195, surrounded by cultivated fields, vineyards and olive groves. We turn after a few kilometers on the SP71 and we reach a natural terrace overlooking the sea near the marina of Porto Teulada and the beach at Torre del Budello. Although we skirted the sea several times in different parts of the island, every time we are seduced by the landscapes and we realize how each area with its beaches and cliffs is unique and unrepeatable despite the almost 2000 kilometers of Sardinia coastline. Back on the coast we begin to spot again the Spanish coastal towers, as that of Budello overlooking the beach. Just in front of us there is small rocky islet, the Isola Rossa (the Red Island). We are now in the southernmost tip of Sardinia, a sign that we are not much closer to Africa than to Italy.
Continuing we find many beaches and coves, hidden between the rocky cliffs and probably reachable only by boat. There are many small islands, such as Pan di Zucchero of Nebida, which seem suspended on sea. Among the various beaches, we are mostly intrigued by Piscinnì that is signaled, on our guidebook, as the beach that attracts cows, but today we find a friendly group of goats!
We reach the bay of Malfatano Cape and we remain speechless in front of a such beauty. On tip of the Cape there is an another Spanish tower and in the inland part of the bay there is a natural fish farm. This area is rich in fishing since ancient times, and therefore Phoenicians founded their fish-farm sheltered from the strong currents of the open sea. We continue to ride and shortly we reach the beach of Tuerredda, where we decide to stop. The white sandy beach is known as the Caribbean of southern Sardinia and also for its characteristic heart shaped. Just in front of the shore a small island reached by many tourist with a brief swim.
Continuing towards Cape Spartivento we reach Chia part of the municipality of Domus De Maria, which boasts well-known beaches among which that of “Su Giudeu”: dunes of white and fine sand with a small islet in front of the shore, called indeed “Su Giudeu”. For once we leave our bikes and we decide to have horse ride along this beautiful beach. The stables, that organizes tours with group of tourist, are not far from the seashore .
Leaving behind us Chia we enter in the territory of Pula, the last leg of our trip in Sardinia: Santa Margherita. Here a dense pine forest hides holiday homes and tourist villages along the coast. We arrive to Nora, one of the most important Phoenician sites which it became also a Roman town. Here you can visit the fascinating ruins developed along the headland. It is still visible the ancient town with numerous buildings including the theater, the Roman forum, the temple, baths, several houses and the streets. On the beach we visit the small church of Saint Efisio, perhaps the most beloved saint by all the Sardinians, who was martyred here by the Roman soldiers. Every May 1st the whole island is mobilized in honor of the saint, invading literally the city of Cagliari with the colors of the traditional dresses of all villages of the island accompanied by the music of traditional instruments, including the launeddas. The statue of the saint is carried in procession for four days and with its 66 km of distance is the longest procession in Europe.
Finally, we reach our last leg: Pula. A pretty little town that has been able to propose itself as the main tourist center of southern Sardinia. In the historical center there is the church of San Giovanni Battista with neoclassical architecture. We discover that it was built on the project of the same engineer who designed the late nineteenth century rampart of Cagliari, the Bastione the roo,f terrace of Saint Remy that we loved at the beginning of our journey. In the downtown of Pula there is the archaeological museum that houses many artifacts found during excavations of Nora, it is interesting for its time Phoenician for the Roman.
Our bike tour of southern Sardinia is finished. Every place has fascinated us with its history, its colors and scents, and we already know that it will be difficult to return to daily life after this experiences. As often happens to us when we leave this country, also this time we go away with the longing for Sardinia, promising to return as soon as possible!