Gallura is a region where mountainous peaks are found alongside immaculate beaches and cork woods protect ancient Nuragic monuments. There are so many things to do, we have tried to select ten experiences relating to the various aspects of interest such as culinary tradition, history and nature.
GALLURA: ACTIVITIES FOR ALL TASTES
The ancient subregion of Gallura stretches across the north-western part of Sardinia: between the shores of Coghinas lake and the rocky slopes of Mount Limbara and Mount Nieddu. This area of the island holds vast riches in its 23 municipalities: ranging from numerous archaeological sites, such as the Giants’ tomb and the Nuraghe, to the vineyards of Vermentino Gallurese, the celebrated and beautiful beaches of the Costa Smeralda and the Golfo Aranci and the granite mountains, much loved by trekking enthusiasts. Then there are also the waves at Porto Pollo, adored by surfers, and the Valle della Luna, a mystical destination where young people hang out. What is more, for those interested in Sardinian history, there are plenty of museums and authentic traditional villages.
So Gallura has something for all tastes.
Usually, those visiting this region for the first time arrive in Olbia, which is the most suitable city to use as a base to visit all the other places of interest. Here you can find hotels, B&Bs, traditional and not-so-traditional restaurants and hire a car to get around independently, plus the beaches are just a few miles away.
Now let’s take a look at those ten experiences you absolutely have to try in Gallura!
1. What to eat in Gallura: zuppa gallurese
A good way to discover a place is to taste it, creating memories in the form of flavours and aromas. Gallura, for example, is rich and inviting just like its most traditional dish: zuppa gallurese. Soft layers of stale bread soaking in mutton broth and loads of cheese create a kind of Sardinian lasagne. Like all traditional dishes, there are numerous versions, the broth can be made with other meats; there are those who prefer semolina bread and those who serve a vegetarian version with fennel. You can enjoy zuppa gallurese in any restaurant – farmhouse or otherwise – in Northern Sardinia. Of course, there are many other delicacies to try, such as mazza frissa, a traditional shepherds’ dish made with the cream, obtained by skimming fresh whole milk, and semolina. And do not forget to pair it all with a cool glass of Vermentino di Gallura.
2. Valle della Luna – literally, valley of the moon – or rather, valleys of the moon.
Many people do not know that there are two Valle della Luna’s in Gallura: the one in Santa Teresa Gallura and the one in Aggius. The one in Santa Teresa is one of the places best loved by hippies; in this valley of rocks, skilfully smoothed by the winds and the waves, many love to shelter to look at the stars, make music and enjoy the peace of a lunar landscape. The valley can be reached by means of a rocky path nearly half a mile long that looks out over the beautiful cliffs in the last stretch of the valley. The other Valle de la Luna, the one in Aggius, also known as Piana dei Grandi Sassi (Plain of the Great Rocks), is an expanse of granite boulders that cover a silent and atmospheric valley, where tafoni, caves and stone sculptures seem to come to life. The best way to appreciate it is from Belvedere, which is located along the road that runs above and around it.
3. The most beautiful towns in Gallura: Aggius
Aggius is a quaint town, packed with culture, with a mediaeval centre that has made it one of the most authentic villages in Italy and led to it being awarded a Bandiera Arancione (Orange Flag) for its excellency by Touring Club Italiano. It stands at an altitude of more than 500 m above sea level, providing a wonderful view over the north of the island all the way to Bocche di Bonifacio on the clearest days. The town preserves precious remains of Gallurese culture in the “Oliva Carta Cannas” Ethnographic Museum (MEOC) and the Museum of Banditry. Another unusual museum is the Museum of Lost Love (Museo dell’Amore Perduto). The little dry-stone walls and stone houses are surrounded by macchia shrubland and the nearby mountains.
For nature lovers, a visit to the Piana dei Grandi Sassi is a must.
4. Museums to see in Gallura
In Gallura, there are numerous museums dedicated to Sardinian culture, so you can get to know the regional traditions better and in greater detail. In Luras is the Museo della Femina Agabbadora, dedicated to a legendary woman shrouded in mystery and respect. There are also the San Simplicio Necropolis in Olbia, the Palau Ethnographic Museum, the Arzachena Archaeological Museum, and, staying within the city, the Scatola del Tempo, the smallest museum in Italy, is well worth a visit. These are just a few of the museums and places of interest that you can find in Gallura.
5. A Trip to the Maddalena Archipelago
The Maddalena Archipelago – a handful of islands that make up some of the most precious jewels of Sardinia – holds some of the most beautiful treasures and beaches in the world. One of the many is the Spiaggia Rosa (Pink Beach) on Budelli, which has been fully protected since 1994. Nearby Budelli, you can also visit the islands of Spargi and Santa Maria. To explore all the islands in the area, you will need to hire a boat or go on the various organised tours, and there is nothing better than a day spent plunging into the crystal-clear waters of the archipelago. The island of Caprera can be reached by car from Maddalena island by means of the bridge connecting them. There, apart from the outstanding views of the natural surroundings and the Museo Garibaldino, you can find one of the most beautiful coves in Gallura: Cala Coticcio, also known as the little Tahiti of Sardinia.
6. Sunsets and Surf in Porto Pollo
The beach at Porto Pollo is different from other beaches in Gallura because the granite rocks open up to make room for a long expanse of fine sand. Porto Pollo is much loved by surfers and sports people (particularly windsurfers) because owing to its exposure to strong winds, it offers spectacular waves. But that is not all, it is visited by travellers from all over the world for its sunsets that look like they have come straight out of a painting. Those who visit Gallura always find time for a beer at sunset in this briny piece of paradise.
7. The most beautiful beaches on the Costa Smeralda
The sparkling and much talked-about Costa Smeralda (literally, Emerald Coast) is the stretch of coastline that goes from Olbia to Arzachena: a succession of spectacular little coves and granite beaches with deep and crystal-clear waters. Among the most beautiful, although choosing between them is practically impossible, are il Pevero, Cala del Principe, Capriccioli and Romazzino. The coast is celebrated not only for its incredible beaches but also for the glitzy nightlife in Porto Cervo, the exclusive bars frequented by VIPs, the selection of restaurants and the snorkelling that can be practised in its clear waters. It is a stunning strip of land, but keep in mind that each of the beaches in the area is different and striking in its own way, especially those that are more off the beaten track!
8. L’Agnata di De André
What was once an ordinary stazzo, a traditional rural home in Gallura, in 1975 became the residence of Fabrizio De André and his wife Dori Ghezzi. The famous singer-songwriter’s home was enveloped in several hectares of countryside and was the site of the kidnapping of the couple, but also a place of sharing and contact with nature. Subsequently, Agnata was converted into a farm holiday destination and then into the current boutique hotel and restaurant, which is also open to those not staying at the hotel. It is a magical place, to say the least, thoroughly immersed in nature, where you can relive the De Andrè years, sleep in his room and eat in his living room. It is undoubtedly an unusual and meaningful experience to enjoy in Gallura.
9. San Pantaleo market
An authentic little town, heaving with life, despite the few people that inhabit it: you can stroll through its streets, enjoy the crystal-clear sea of the Costa Smeralda and visit one of the best markets in Sardinia. This is San Pantaleo, the preferred destination of artists and artisans, who get together every Thursday throughout the summer to bring to life the best-known artistic market on the island. From early on Thursday mornings, you can lose yourself between stands and stalls of artists, designers, jewellers and artisans.
10. Discovering Olbia
The beautiful city of Olbia is the beating heart of Gallura. The city is the landing place for travellers. It is bathed by the clear waters of the Costa Smeralda and provides a fantastic view of the protected marine area of Tavolara. There are numerous archaeological finds like the San Simplicio Necropolis, offering you the chance to retrace the history of the island from the most ancient times. Olbia is the perfect base for visiting Gallura, as it is central and has good services; the beaches are just a few miles away, the centre boasts bars and restaurants to satisfy all tastes, and there are shops, artisan’s workshops, and jewellers’, where you can find precious coral jewellery or traditional amulets.
This summer, if you cannot wait to visit a region with superb versatility that will offer you unforgettable landscapes and experiences, book your flight to Olbia and let yourself be seduced by the treasures of Gallura!