NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Capo Teulada with Porto Pino, on the south western coast of Sardinia, is surely one of the most evocative coastal areas on the Island.
The promontory, about 40 meters high, consist mainly of dark grey limestone covered by sandstone. The vegetation consists of Aleppo pine,
holm oaks and two species of juniper. The windswept areas are covered in luxuriant scrub consisting of phyllirea, rosemary and rock rose. It is also possible to see the rare "asterisco marittimo" and "limonio".
The beach, about 70 meters wide, divides the sea from the ponds that shelter numerous species of marine birds such as flamingos, avocets, stilt plovers and even rare marsh owls.
The dazzling white sand is driven by the wind into the opposite part of the bay, forming dunes the height of which can reach 30 meters.
On the sandy shore turtles have been seen a number of times. Turtles seems to have chosen this beach to lay eggs.
All this area, which nowadays is classified as a nature reserve, is still unspoilt because it is a military area.
his stretch of coast which extends from "Salto di Quirra" as far as "Costa Rei", is
characterised by almost linear and flat territory. The maximum height is 83 meters at the
Genna Arrela Pass. The coast slopes to the sea forming an uninterrupted line of well
equipped beaches for tourists. Going inland there are a large number of citrus orchards.
The stretch of the coast near the mouth of the Flumendosa is very characteristic. The
beach is on a narrow stretch of land with the blue sea in front and the river water
behind. In this area are the remains of "Quirra Castle", "Gibas Castle" and some deserted
GIARA DI GESTURI
Giara di Gesturi is an area of about 24000 acres. It covers parts of the provinces of
Cagliari, Nuoro and Oristano. It includes a wide plateau that overlooks Gesturi, Tuili,
Setzu, Genuri, Sini, Gonnosn˛, Albagiara, Assolo and Genoni.
The main access to this plateau is by the road from Gesturi to the nuragic village of
Giara consists of many "paulis", which are marshes of different sizes formed by the
rainwater stagnating in wide hollows of volcanic origin.
The two largest marshes, called "paulis majori" in Sardinian language, are placed
respectively in Genoni and Tuili.
The presence of small springs MEANS these marshes do not dry up in the summer.
There is a wealth of fauna; foxes, hedgehogs, martens, buzzards, kestrels, jays,
partridges and hoopoe. However what most characterises the fauna of this place is the
presence of Sardinian-Arabian wild ponies which are famous as the only wild ponies in
Nowadays there are about 800 pure blood ponies in the Giara.
In this area there are also numerous cork-oars.
On this plateau there are two mountains: Zapparedda (609 m.) and Zeppara Manna (580 m)
from which one can see the mountains of Gennargentu and Arci, the regions of Sarcidano,
Campidano and the hills of Marmilla and Trexenta.
Numerous nuraghi are spread all over this territory. Probably the nuraghi were built to
defend and control the territory.
GROTTE IS ZUDDAS
Near the village of Santadi, there are caves of particular interest called "Is Zuddas".
They are naturally carved in the Cambrian limestone of the mountain of Meana. The tunnel
that allows access to these caves presents a series of rooms full of concretions. The
first room is called "room of the colomns" because of the presence of various stalactites
and stalagmites which join together to form columns.
Passing through a natural tunnel one can reach the "Organ" room, which owes its name to a
column similar to an organ. At the bottom and over the walls there are corral and
needle-shaped aragonites. The third room is the so called "theatre" room which is
wonderful and very large. The fourth room is the so called "Eccentric" room. The vault of
this room is fabulous because of the presence of unique eccentric aragonites which have
developed in the vault in every direction without observing the rules of gravity.
For the last few years Midnight Mass has been said in the "Theatre" room on the 24th
In the same area there are other very beautiful and interesting caves such as the Cave of
Pirosu, inside which there is a vaulted sanctuary dating from the Nuragic period, the
cave of Campanaccio and the cave of Capra. These caves are only open for guided
speleological excursions, organised by the Speleo Club of Santadi.
Is Zuddas Cave managers:
Coop. Monte Meana Santadi
ISOLA DI SAN PIETRO - THE ISLAND OF S. PIETRO
The island of S. Pietro which has an ancient volcanic origin, is characterised by red
trachyte rocks and grey tufa which slope into the sea forming steep sheer cliffs. The
coastline which is harsh and rough is characterised by beaches, stacks, fjords and caves,
the most imposing of which is Mezzaluna or Bue Marino cave.
On the northern coast one can visit the old tuna-fishing plant. The most important tuna
plant is on Piana Island. Nowadays it has been renovated and transformed in tourist
attraction. It is well worth visiting to see its XVIII and XIX century architecture.
The inland part of this Island has the largest natural Sardinian pinewood. The trees are
Aleppo pine which is the only arboreal specie on this Island.
At Cala Fico and Capo Sandalo fyord, LIPU (Lega Italiana for the protection of birds)
has set up control camps to protect the nests of the peregrine.
It is worthwhile sailing around the island in order to admire the beauty of the coastline
and the caves.
PARCO DI MONTE ARCOSU
The park of Monte Arcosu is one of the biggest oasis run by the WWF. It covers over 6000
acres of forest and is home to one of the last herds of Sardinian deer. The park boards
on to the Gutturumannu valley.
The park includes the mountains of Arcosu, Gennastrina and the beautiful rock face of the
Lattias Mountain. Moreover there is a large artificial lake and various springs whose
waters are absorbed by the under wood grassy mantle.
There is a wealth of flora. There are of holm oak and cork tree woods, an under wood
consisting of Mediterranea scrub, lentisk, myrtle, rosemary and rock roses. In the valley
of the Guttureddu mountain there are willows and alders and on the steep faces holm oaks
and cork trees grow.
The park is rich in fauna as well. There are rare species of Sardinian deer, wild cats,
wild boar and martens. Wild birds also abound. There are bald eagles, peregrines,
goshawks and numerous forest birds. There are also the Sardinian "discoglosso", (an
amphibious lizard unique to Sardinia) and coluber ( a type of snake). Papilio hospiton
butterflies and Sardinian swallow-tails can also be found.
To visit this wild life reserve contact WWF Sardinia, Tel. 070670308.
PARCO DEI SETTE FRATELLI - SETTE FRATELLI
Sette Fratelli Park covers almost 120,000 acres and is part of the following 'comuni'
Quartu S. Elena, Quartucciu, Maracalagonis, Burcei and Castiadas. This wonderful park
faces onto the Gulf of Cagliari and is home to deer, wild boar, martens, weasels and bald
Flora consists mainly of Mediterranean scrub (arbutus, lentisk) and holm oak and cork
The easiest way to reach the park is by following the main national road (the SS 125)
from Cagliari and take the turning for S. Isidoro. From here there is a road which passes
through the mountains and the woods, past almond orchards and Mediterranean shrub. .
At the first bridge, in a small valley it is possible to visit the domus de janas "Sa
The road continues to the Codoleddu plateau which overlooks the sea of Geremeas on one
side and Cagliari on the other.
The road on the left leads to Campu Omu, which is situated in the middle of the woods
where herds of deer roam. There is a small museum dedicated to the deer at the forest
station. The forest rangers will open the museum for visitors.
PARCO di MOLENTARGIUS MOLENTARGIUS PARK
Molentargius park, covers about 3200 acres and includes the ponds south of Cagliari,
Quartu S. Elena and Quartucciu.
Molentargius became a protected area because of hundreds of flamingoes which in the
Spring of 1993, for the first time after years of migration, nested along the pond sides.
Almost more than a half of the territory is occupied by Saltpans, while about 1600 acres
include the shore and the pinewood of Poetto, the Is Arenas region and the wet lands of
Bellarosa Minore and Perdalonga.
Nowadays there are about 200 species of birds who have chosen this place for their
migration and among these birds there are many which use these ponds for nesting. Among
these birds are: purple gallinule, cattle egret, glossy ibis, red egret, shoveller,
tufted duck and as we said above flamingos.
GOLA DI GORROPPU - THE GORROPPU GORGE
In Supramonte there is the Gorroppu gorge which is the deepest and roughest natural
canyon in Italy. It is a narrow passage carved, during the centuries, by the Flumineddu
Rio between enormous vertical faces which, at some points, are more than 300m high.
Besides this gorge there are other ravines surrounded by thick woods, that can be seen
only from the edge: The river flows past the gorge into small lakes and flows down to the
Dorgali valley where it feeds various springs.
It is possible to walk through the gorge if one is an experienced and equipped with ropes
and rowboats. The view from below repays all the hard work of climbing down. The view
from the top if you climb to the same height as the hill (Sedda Arcabbas) is breath
The excursions in this territory, where there is also a nuraghe, has to be authorised by
Forest Rangers in Nuoro.
GOLFO DI OROSEI - THE GULF OF OROSEI
The Gulf of Orosei is probably the wildest stretch of coastline in Italy. It is
characterised by sheer rock faces which into the sea, little sheltered bays, inaccessible
seashores, deep caves, small beaches and inlets with white sandy beaches lapped by clear
sea water. Most of these inlets can be reached only by sea or by land following mule
These caves, the most famous of which is the cave of Bue Marino, were home to monk seals
until a few years ago. Nowadays is very hard to see them.
Among the few accessible inlets there are Cala Luna and Cala Gonone.
Behind the Gulf rises the Gennargentu mountain, whose lower slopes create the deep
valleys which are the natural barriers for the beaches and shelter nightingales,
bee-eaters and, along the roughest parts of the coast, the little hawks (della regina).
PARCO DEL GENNARGENTU - GENNARGENTU PARK
Besides the Gennargentu massif, this park consists of Supramonte and Ogliastra as far as
the inlets of Orosei.
The landscape is extremely various. The Gennargentu mountainous massif is formed of
Palaeozoic shale from which veins of porphyrys emerge. The peak is 1.834 m high It is
called Punta La Marmora in honour of general Alberto La Marmora. The landscape looks wild
and rough with old junipers that cling to the rock, black-thorns, yews, holly, brooms and
maples. Supramonte is characterised by holm-oak woods which, in past times, surrounded
the whole mountain chain. Going towards the coastline the forests and woods give way to
The local Fauna consists of moufflons, wild boar, foxes, wild cats, martens, dormice,
partridges and hares. Rocks shelter peregrine, golden eagles, buzzards and kestrels. It
is getting more and more rare to see the griffon which was very common long time ago.
Along the coast there are the gulls and the hawks (della regina).
This area has been populated since prehistoric times. There are traces of the first human
settlements. There is the Mereu and Gorroppu nuraghi and the nuragic village of Tiscali.
Some deer bones (which had been used as tools) dating from 13.500 years ago were found at
Monte Arci is the second mountain chain in Oristano and is of volcanic origin.
Its geological formation is very mixed. It has a trachytic bottom, laterly covered by
basaltic flows, rich in obsidian.
Thanks to the obsidian this area has been populated since very ancient times. In fact
traces of prehistoric settlements have been found. Among these settlements there are the
places where the obsidian was worked and traces of these products have been found in the
whole Mediterranean basin.
Despite the numerous environmental problems caused by fire, poaching and urban
development, the area has still many unspoilt areas and a marvellous view which covers
the half of Sardinia.
At the foot of the mountain there is very little vegetation but it becomes thicker and
thicker as one nears the top with holm-oak and durmast woods and a thick under wood with
heather, arbutus, rock rose and lentisk.
There is a wealth of fauna including wild boar, foxes, wild cats, jays, crows, carrion
crows, wood pigeons, hoopoes, goshawks, kestrels and some Bonelli Eagles.
There is also the very rare little bustard.
As in many other areas of Sardinia, reforestation and the reintroduction of animals such
as fallow deer, wild rabbits and partridges is being carried out in Monte Arci.
The peninsula of Sinis is the second most important wet area in Italy. It is formed by a
myriad of ponds of various dimensions each of them with different
Some of these ponds are seasonal such as Porcu Salt which in Summer dries completely up
leaving only a thick crust of salt. Other ponds are permanent. Among them Cabras pond is
the largest (about 4.000 acres).
PENISOLA DEL SINIS - THE PENINSULA OF SINIS
Some of these ponds are used for fish-farming, although water pollution during recent
years has led to a reduction in the number of fish.
This area is of major importance for the local fauna especially for birds. In fact these
waters are home to flocks of flamingos, purple gallinules, rare ducks, various species of
seagulls, egrets, avocets, sea swallows and many other types of birds.
ARCIPELAGO DELLA MADDALENA - THE ARCHIPELAGO OF MADDALENA
The Archipelago of La Maddalena, which is off the north-east coast of Sardinia and can be
reached by ferry from Palau. It is one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean
basin. The only populated area in the islands is La Maddalena which still has the
characteristics of the original coastal towns of north eastern Sardinia.
Sea conditions permitting, it is possible to admire the natural paradise of the little
islands of Spargi, Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria. There are white sandy beaches dotted
with rocks of pink granite smoothed by the sea and the wind, stretches of pink sand,
clear sea water sheltered by large bays and cliffs. Mediterranean scrub dominates the
islands and from the highest points one can enjoy breathtaking views.
The island of Caprera, besides the beauty of its landscape, is interesting from a
historical point of view. This island houses the tomb of Giuseppe Garibaldi and the house
where he lived until his death. Nowadays this house is a museum which is dedicated to
Until a few decades ago Capo Caccia was a paradise for hunters. Nowadays this area is one
of the most favourite destinations for tourists and naturalists. The promontory, which is
a rocky spur about 168m high, closes the large inlet of Porto Conte.
The vegetation of this area is very rich and interesting. On the rocks on can find some
rare plants such as the Centaurea horrida, sea fennel, palm (Nana) and others. The local
fauna is also interesting, despite the loss of the Sardinian fallow deer. It is possible
to admire the wild pigeons, seagulls (Corsi), ravens, peregrines and griffins. Moreover
the vegetation houses the Sardinian partridge.
One of the most interesting aspects of this area is the karst phenomena which caused
fractures, chasms, hollows and very beautiful caves among which there are: Grotta Verde
(Green Cave) which is so called because of the marvellous green colour of its walls, the
Grotta dei Ricami and the Grotte di Nettuno. Grotta dei Ricami and Grotte di Nettuno are
open to visitors and they can be reached by boat from Alghero or through a stair called
"Escala del Cabirol" which consists of 656 steps carved into the rock.
In front of the cliff, immersed in the deep blue sea, there is the Island of Foradada.s
ISOLA DI TAVOLARA - THE ISLAND OF TAVOLARA
One of the wildest places in Sardinia is surely the island of Tavolara which is a
limestone rock square floe about 6 km. long and 500m high which is in front of Olbia.
Although some human artifacts dating from the III and IV millennium B.C. have been found,
the island of Tavolara has been populated only since last century excluding a short
interlude during the Roman period, when this island was used to supply ships.
The wind and the waves have shaped the surface and have formed gorges, caves, niches and
inlets that shelter kestrel, hawk, raven and other birds and various species of fish in
the under water caves. This island was home to the monk seal, even if this seal has not
been seen for a long time.
Because of the roughness of the land, the local vegetation consists of pioneer plants
along the sandy areas and of Mediterranean scrub in the rocky areas. Near Bocca del
Cannone, which is one of the most important fissures, there is an oleasters wood.
ASINARA AND STINTINO
Off the north west coast of Sardinia, there is the island of Asinara which is sadly
famous for its high security prison. However, the presence of this prison and, before
that, the presence of the maritime health centre, allowed this island to preserve its
natural beauty avoiding any kind of property speculation.
The coastline is characterised by inlets, peaks that drop straight into the sea and
evocatively beautiful mortises. The west the coast is flat with sandy beaches and sea
beds which have a maximum depth of 50m. The inland consists of granite masses covered by
Mediterranean scrub with 678 endemic species (counted in a census). In land where there
is shelter from the winds there are holm-oak woods.
Fauna makes this island very interesting, In fact there are various animals such as:
hare, mufflon, Corsican and Herring gull, Sardinian partridge, peregrine, buzzard and
many other species.
The sea is rich in fish and sea life as well.
Among the domestic animals which were imported by the first inhabitants in 1700, there
are some samples of the so called Sardinian donkey, which is a small and fair haired
Facing the island of Asinara, across the Gulf of Asinara, there is the tourist centre of
Stintino. Its beach is called "La Pelosa" and is world famous for its tropical beauty.
Stintino offers tourists all amenities and a beautiful port.
Limbara is the second highest mountain in Sardinia.
This granite mountain overlooks the northern area of the island. From its summit one can
see as far as the white mountains of Corsica. The rocky faces of this mountain are
covered in a luxurious vegetation consisting of holm-oaks, cork trees, arbutus, lentisk,
heather and various endemic species.
The local fauna consists of rare species of animals such as Sardinian partridge,
peregrine, goshawk, royal kite and raven. Its grass lands are home to the little bustard.
Among the mammals there are marten, wild boar and wild cat.
Unfortunately this rocky mountain was severely damaged. Many forests were completely
destroyed by fires, deforestation and coal production. Many beautiful natural granite
peaks have been quarried and indiscriminate hunting has severely reduced the number of
deer, fallow deer and moufflons .
Despite its considerable importance for wild life this area (near Tempio Pausania), has
not as of yet been declared a nature reserve.