Along the way of angels, martyrs and pirates

YiS Team: Roberta Ricci


Wednesday, October 16th, 2019


Along the way of angels, martyrs and pirates

From the beaches of the south-west to the hills of Cagliari, passing through ancient cities, places of worship, museums and legacies of the past, a journey through places and stories that have marked the identity of Sardinia.

On the southern coast of Sardinia, where ancient peoples built fortresses, roads and towers, in places where the legend of the island’s most beloved saint was born, there is a path dotted with rocky lookout posts dominating the coast from up above on spectacular promontories. You can admire them, along with churches, archaeological sites and aristocratic villas, next to a sea painted with intense shades of blue.

1. Capo Malfatano

The route starts at the foot of the Torre del Budello, on the beach of the same name, and passes through Piscinnì, coastal enclave of Domus de Maria, also watched over by a seventeenth-century Spanish fortress, and reaches Capo Malfatano, where a third tower stands out, in visual contact with the first two. Along the path, you will see numerous rocky outcrops that adorn the landscape, dominated by the turquoise and emerald green reflections of the sea, leading you to imagine the Phoenician and Punic ships that passed through these coves more than two thousand years ago.

2. Antica città di Bithia

The path takes you around a fjord overlooking Capo Malfatano and proceeds east, allowing you to admire the numerous islets that stand out in front of tropical beaches, like the spectacular Tuerredda. You can also observe the Capo Spartivento lighthouse, after which you will be able to see the Chia coast. Expanses of soft, light sand extend to Su Giudeu, Campana, Monte Cogoni and sa Colonia, with the Tower of Chia up above. The ruins of Bithia are at the foot of it: this was a Phoenician, then Punic and Roman town, with secrets that continue to hide in the waves of the sea.

3. Santa Margherita di Pula

From the small beach of Su Portu, east of the tower, the route carries on along the ancient Roman road that once connected the two cities of Bithia and Nora. From time to time, your feet will touch the original paving, which has survived for thousands of years. You will arrive in Pinus Village before crossing the very long and captivating coast of Santa Margherita di Pula. After almost six kilometres, a sharp corner is ‘outlined’ on the shoreline, almost at a right angle. The Spanish crown had the tower of Cala d’Ostia built here.

4. Antica città di Nora

Unlike Bithia, much of the ancient town of Nora has re-emerged. At the tip of the isthmus stands the Coltellazzo tower. The soldier Ephysius found martyrdom a few hundred metres from here and you can visit the church dedicated to him, which is the destination of the largest religious procession in Sardinia. Leaving this sacred location, you will soon reach a place where ‘devils’ landed: this is the definition given to the pirates who landed in a bay beneath the only surviving tower on the Sarroch coast, known precisely as the ‘Devil’s tower’.

5. Torre degli Ulivi

You will proceed on foot to the slopes of the mountain on which the Antigori nuraghe stands and then alongside Villa d’Orri, the only royal residence on the Island. This leg of the journey ends in Torre degli Ulivi, a coastal district of Capoterra that gets its name from the tower, also known as Su Loi. Here, you can also visit a picturesque little church dedicated to Saint Ephysius – one of the stopping places of the procession – and Casa Spadaccino, a former mining site and a manor house that now accommodates the Santa Gilla Lagoon Museum.

6. Sella del Diavolo

The route then returns to the coast, between the sea, the salt pans and the Stagno di Cagliari, leading you to the capital. You will immediately see the tower of Quarta Regia, or della Scafa, before making your way to the port. The promenade will take you to the Sant’Elia district, where you can admire the Tower of Prezzemolo and the Calamosca lighthouse before reaching the legendary Sella del Diavolo (Devil’s Saddle). The tower of Sant’Elia, with Punic, Roman and medieval ruins and a splendid view of the immense Poetto beach, will conclude the journey.

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