Along its 200 km the coast of Sulcis Iglesiente includes all of the extraordinary variety of Mediterranean coastlines.
In this part of Sardinia, you only have to travel a couple of kilometres to find yourself in completely different surroundings, some wild and uncontaminated, others extremely well equipped to guarantee a holiday full of relaxation and fun, able to give you an authentic experience in direct contact with nature, which in this area is still not over-populated and far from the normal beaten tracks: from the verdant valley of Porto Pino, to the Gulf of Palmas, between pools and salt mines on the one hand and the island of on the other, which together with the island of San Pietro and other islets makes up the Sulcitano archipelago. Then there is the Gulf of Gonnesa, and the famous Pan di Zucchero, finally coming to Portixeddu beach, near Buggerru, loved by surfers from all over Europe.
This is an itinerary to discover the beaches and coastline of Sulcis Iglesiente which won’t disappoint visitors.
HOME OF ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS
The ideal destination for those who prefer the combination of a classical beach holiday with the discovery of the culture of the area, Sulcis Iglesiente offers its visitors sites of archaeological interest and a wealth of history
The variety and richness of the archaeological, historical, cultural and architectural inheritance, but also the richness of the traditions, the flavours, the habits and customs of this land make Sulcis Iglesiente the ideal tourist area in terms of culture, discovering authentic sites, unchanging details, for people who love the experience of a holiday by means of dialogue and meetings with people who bring it to life.
Amongst the cultural itineraries which this land offers, the trip through the most ancient origins of Sulcis leaves from Villaperuccio, at the site of Montessu, where there is the most important necropolis of domus de janas (house of the fairies) in southern Sardinia.
Dating back about 5,000 years, this necropolis is the site of approximately 40 of these fairy or witches houses (according to popular tradition), excavated horizontally and of varying types. From here you quickly come to the Phoenician fortress of Pani Loriga near Santadi, where a huge necropolis with different styles of tombs demonstrates the different stages of the Phoenician-Punic settlement. The route of the Phoenicians continued right up to the Island of Sant’Antioco, where the artificial isthmus which connects the island to the rest of Sardinia is an example of the refined harbour engineering of the Phoenician-Punic times, with more work carried out during the Roman epoch. A visit to the town of Sant’Antioco, built on the Phoenician Sulci of the 8th century B.C., gives you an opportunity to see some particularly interesting exhibits such as the necropoleis, where a number of excavated tombs can be seen at various levels of the tufaceous rock, from Punic underground tombs to Roman urn niches, and the tofet, the Phoenician-Punic sanctuary dedicated to the interment of boys. The temple, founded around the 8th century B.C., is divided into quadrangular courtyards of various sizes which house reproductions of numerous urns with sacrificial ashes, the originals of which are housed in the adjacent Museo Archeologico.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE MONTE SIRAI
Returning onto terra ferma, near Carbonia, you come to the archaeological site of Monte Sirai, where, on a Nuraghic settlement, you can visit the remains of a Punic centre, which was of strategic importance in the defence system first of the Carthaginians and then of the Romans. Monte Sirai is a true open-air laboratory where you can see with your own eyes the passage of the centuries and centuries of interesting history. The Phoenician site (750 – 520 B.C) includes the acropolis, the necropolis, the tofet, some domus de janas and the settlement of Monte Claro. It is divided into various sectors to allow visitors to follow different itineraries.
Near the Fluminimaggiore, in the valley of Antas, history draws its breath at the temple Sardus Pater, identified with the Carthaginian divinity Sid, protector of sailors and hunters. The site, discovered in the 19th century, is an exceptional example of a Roman temple built on a pre-existing Punic edifice, which also explains some of the unusual architectural characteristics of the Roman temples. Thanks to the restoration works, you can see is a large stairway to the entrance and an imposing pronaus where there are four eight-metre columns with Ionic capitals.
If you love trekking, mountain biking, birdwatching, climbing or cycling, don’t miss your appointment with Sulcis Iglesiente.
If you love trekking, mountain biking, birdwatching, climbing or cycling, it’s very likely that you already know Sardinia – nowadays an ideal destination for many types of sport. What perhaps you don’t yet know is that Sulcis Iglesiente offers active holidays, a wealth of uncontaminated landscapes, from the coast to the hinterlands, and itineraries which are not well known, but worth discovering, and which can be experienced in many ways: on foot, by bicycle, mountain bike, on horseback, motorbike, in off-road vehicles, and all year round. In Iglesiente, for example, a trip to the rural village of Sant’Angelo takes you via a cartroad firstly to the building where Modigliani lived at Grugua, and then to the evocative Cala Domestica, after having crossed different landscapes with thick copses and deep canyons. Just as evocative, the route takes you along the waterfront at Buggerru on the Canal Grande of Masua, characterised by high calcareous cliffs. At Fluminimaggiore you can combine archaeology with speleology by following the route which leads from the Punic-Roman temple at Antas to the cave at Su Mannau.
Unforgettable walks are also to be found in the Linas-Marganai massif, where you can venture amongst the rich vegetation along paths once walked by miners and charcoalburners, or follow mysterious tracks on the works inherited from the former Decauvilles, narrow-gauge railways along which the mining wagons used to pass.
In lower Sulcis, trekkers can discover a further paradise at Santadi, between the woods of Pantaleo and Gutturu Mannu, thought to be the most extensive forest of indigenous species around the Mediterranean. During the spring, the public walk “Incontro con la natura” (Meeting Nature) takes place here. Keen climbers will be spoilt for choice: caves and valleys at San Giovanni (Domusnovas), Mount San Giovanni (Gonnesa), Masua and Pan di Zucchero (Iglesias), Lisandru and Gutturu Cardaxius (Buggerru), Pilocca and Gutturu Pala (Fluminimaggiore) are only a selection of suitable sites for climbing. White cliffs which emerge from the woods, Santadi – San Pantaleo Forest or from the sea: you will always find some stone suitable for any weather conditions.
Opportunities also abound for mountain bikers: on Marganai, woods frame the villages and mines, at the same time ensuring fun and exercise thanks to the differences in altitude and the good roads. Pedalling around Fluminimaggiore gives you the opportunity to see the spring at Pubusinu and further on, the imposing mining sites at Su Zurfuru. At Buggerru there is a breathtaking view into the depths of the gorge Gutturu Cardaxius, which can be traversed on horseback. For a rest you can catch the old train which runs through the Galleria Henry: a one-kilometre long tunnel which from time to time opens out into the sea through large “windows”. An unforgettable experience.
The tracks which lead from Domusnovas to Piscina Irgas and Oridda give you opportunity to contemplate the landscape with its wealth of carsican caves, calcareous walls and mining settlements. Further south, on the island of San Pietro, cyclists can follow the coast along the cliffs or cross the interior from one spot to another. At Villamassargia you absolutely must visit the picturesque Ortu Mannu: an ancient olive tree planted in the Middle Ages.
Adventures are certain also for horseriders, who can explore these places on horseback thanks to the numerous stables in the area. The scenery changes from thick woods at Marganai – Oridda to the bare landscapes along the coast between Fontanamare (Gonnesa) and Cala Domestica (Buggerru), where the winds shape the rocks and thin out the bushes. A change of scenery to the wetlands and the coastline of lower Sulcis, where in addition to sport, nature lovers can birdwatch. Porto Botte (Giba), Portopino (Sant’Anna Arresi), Salina and Capo Sandalo (Carloforte), Saline di Sant’Antioco and San Giovanni Suergiu, Stagno di Sa masa (Gonnesa) and laguna di Bau Cerbus (Portoscuso) are the best places to follow birdlife of both the natives and the migrants, such as the rare purple swamphen or the more common, but pretty pink flamingo.
A MINE OF FLAVOURS
Beautiful countryside and seas, which give up unique produce of intense flavours, arousing loving passion and proud respect among the inhabitants of this land.
Sulcis Iglesiente offers even the most demanding of visitors a mine of flavours: the myrtle, the oil, winning prizes amongst the most well-known in the country, the mushrooms, the honey from asphodels, thistles, chestnuts and arbutus, not forgetting the wine. Amongst all the extraordinary products, in particular there is the food production carried out on the islands of San Pietro and Sant’Antioco, where the Tabarka inheritance can still be seen in the food. While in the rest of the province, meat is the main dish in the local cuisine, at Carloforte and Calasetta it is fish which predominates and in particular tuna. Playing the main role in the tuna harvest and the popular festival of Girotonno carlofortino, the event which attracts many tourists during the month of May, tuna is the main ingredient of many of the local dishes, such as tunnina, made from the least oily parts of the fish, bottarga, or dried roe, and musciame, dried and salted fillets.
The island of Sant’Antioco and the south-west of the province are the regions of the Carignano del Sulcis, the red wine which was awarded DOC certification in 1977. The vine, thought to have been introduced into Sardinia by the Phoenicians, is characteristic for its resistance to salt winds and vine disease. In the production of Carignano, up to 15% of other grapes such as Monica, Pascal and Alicante Bouschet may be used, from vines cultivated in the clayey areas of lower Sulcis: the result is a dark ruby-red wine tending towards garnet colour, with a rich, intense bouquet, with hints of cooked plums, dried fruits and cherries, and with a full and structured flavour. This wine has been awarded some of the most prestigious prizes both nationally and internationally.
In the rest of the area, amongst the most historic specialities to mention is the Sardinian artichoke, covered in large thorns, of green-purple hue and Tourists enjoying Sulcis Iglesiente cuisine an intense flavour. It is very common in the areas around Santadi, Masainas, Villarios and Giba, where in March there is the festival “Sagra del Carciofo”, with typical raw artichoke dishes. In the Sulcis area, you can also often find the famous island variant of the Roman and Sardinian speciality pecorino cheese, being produced most importantly at Carbonia, Santadi and Villamassargia. Recently other cheeses have become more common, goat’s cheese, more salty, and smoked ricotta, delicious. To try these, you just have to visit the cheese manufacturers who during the last Sunday in May receive visitors in their various premises.