Once known as a townlet of bandits: Orgosolo

Once known as a townlet of bandits: Orgosolo © Nick Fox /

Original mountain scenery in the hinterland of Sardinia

If you take the motorway 131 south from Olbia, you will soon find yourself in a different world: the highlands of Barbagia. A number of medieval granite villages are situated in the ancient mountain territory with its chestnut forests, waterfalls and limestone cliffs. One of the towns is Orgosolo, once known far and wide as a haven for bandits. Today the community is mostly home to artists and craftsmen, who have not managed to achieve the same level of fame or notoriety once enjoyed by the bandits – much to the disappointment of the local mayor. A cave in the Gorroppu Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in Europe, contains the ruins of a 4,000-year-old nuragic village. A little farther east is towering Punta la Marmora, the highest mountain in Sardinia. The best place to start a climb to the top is Desulo.

Attractions Barbagia

Dolmen Sa Coveccada

4000 year old giant tomb

These structures, built from monolithic blocks all over Europe throughout the Stone Age, were mostly used as burial places and referred to as Dolmen. Sa Coveccada, the biggest Dolmen in Sardinia, is composed of only five disks and has been largely preserved. It has a height of almost three meters and is about five meters long. Its age is estimated to be at least 4,000 years which makes the clan grave as old as the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

Foresta Montarbu

Sardinian forest with rich flora and fauna

The 2,800-hectare nature reserve protects one of the most beautiful forests of Sardinia with rich flora and fauna. Of the many streams the Rio Ermoliosu should find special mention with its crystal clear water sparkling in all colors on a sunny day. Rocks tower above the forest, with the highest being Punta Margiani Pubusa, Middai Serra and Monte Arbu. At the base of forest superintendent Mario Falchi begins a hiking path which unlocks the beauties of the forest.

Gola Gorropu

Canyon with 500 meter high, vertical walls

In the Supramonte Mountains, the Riu Flumineddu has dug one of the deepest gorges in Europe. The up to 500 meters high, vertical, sometimes even overhanging walls are home to a rich flora and fauna. The holly oaks house many nesting sites. The entrance to the gorge 18 km south of Dorgali can be reached by car via a narrow, winding road. From the parking lot in front of the former tollhouse Cantoniera “Genna Silana” a seven-kilometer-long hiking trail leads through the Gola Gorropu. (4:30 hrs, 8 km, elevation change: 600 m)

Monte Tiscali

The prehistoric settlement from the Nuraghic period was built around the 3rd century BC in the wasteland east of Oliena near Dorgali. About 40 huts nestle against a cliff with overhanging walls. Whether it was a refuge, a mountain sanctuary, a permanent settlement or something else entirely is unclear. Based on the remains of huts, it can be assumed that at least temporarily up to 200 people lived there. To this day, the site can only be reached on foot. It is best to follow the coordinates with the help of a navigation app, as the trail markings are not always visible. (there and back: 6.1 kilometers, 3:45 hours, up and down 430 meters).

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Nuraghe Santu Antine

Royal Palace from the Bronze Age

The Bronze Age nuraghe (ancient megalithic edifice) at Torralba is one of the most important megalithic monuments in the Mediterranean region. The massive fortress was begun in 1600 BC. About 800 meters away, as the crow flies, we find the Nuraghe Oes at Giave. The Nuraghe is popularly called “Sa Domo de su Re” (“House of the King”; the Nuragic Royal Palace) – a name that alludes to the dimension of the building. The main tower is still standing more than 17 meters high and today it ranks among the highest in Sardinia.

Punta La Marmora

View over almost the whole of Sardinia

With 1834 meters, the highest mountain on the island forms a rather rough heart in the Gennargentu Mountains, which otherwise rather resemble central Europe. When hiking, one should be prepared for temperatures of up to 15 degrees lower than those along the coast. One can drive to the base station of the ski lift via Desulo in the western part of the mountain. The shortest but also the steepest path to the top is the route next to the ski lift. At the top almost the entire island opens up to a magnificent view on a clear day.

More Attractions Barbagia


Gateway to Barbagia

The town of just under 40,000 inhabitants is located on a high plateau in the Barbagia region. It has a beautiful 19th-century center amid many (...)

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