VIEWS FROM A HISTORICAL PLACE
Although we need to arrive by vehicle and make a little effort, it is an exceptional view from the top of a small mountain near the city. With time, it would be a short excursion where we can enjoy spectacular views with a unique history.
This is about going up to the nuraghe of Cabbu abbas or the Riu Molinu. Surely, our guide will have already shown us some nuraghe before along the way, as there are still more than 3,000 scattered around the island.
These ancient constructions of enigmatic use, are part of the cultural heritage of Sardinia and have become its emblem and symbol. Even without knowing exactly what they were used for, we know that they are megalithic constructions that will not leave us indifferent in any case.
In the one that we propose, it still preserves the 220m wall with a thickness of 4 meters and a height of 5. It is believed that construction began around 1600 B.C.
In addition, we could extend our visit by visiting the sacred well of Sa Testa. This well was where the ancient Nuraghi civilization, as in so many other places on the island, tried to communicate with their deities dedicated to the water that created everything and which was also used by all the peoples who later arrived in Sardinia.
To get there, it is best to take a taxi to the parking area. From here we must take a short walk where it is advisable to wear comofrtabble shoes and have a minimum of physical fitness. In the summer months, with full heat, it is better to think twice before starting to walk. Well, the temperatures are really severe and there is not much shade.
It is a splendid place to discover both archaeological remains of great importance and to enjoy beautiful views of the Olbia plain.
We will be able to see not only a large part of the urban center, but also the entrance to the port that in Greek times was one of the best natural defenses in the Mediterranean. From here you can see the current port perfectly, which before being attached to the land in Mussolini´s time was an island. In addition, we will be surprised by the large port traffic, especially tourist boats, as it is the main entrance to the island from the sea.
Undoubtedly, the small effort made will give us a privileged view of the environment and its history. Something that we should not miss. And if you are also lucky enough to have a clear day, you will still be able to distinguish the entire beautiful Emerald Coast without any problem.
A BREAD AS CRISP AS ITS HISTORY
The gastronomy of the area is vast and full of natural products and, above all, very fresh.
Although on the island the most common food due to its pastoral characteristics are lamb meats and cheeses. Still in the well-protected coastal areas from the attacks of the Barbary pirates that devastated the island, we can still find dishes with a seafaring essence and flavor with a unique tradition and consistency.
Our recommendation would be to sit in any of the restaurants located in the Via central Humberto I area. This is where most of the quality establishments for both tourists and locals are concentrated.
Ask for any characteristic dish of Olbia such as le cozze gratinatte (mussels) in any of its preparations or its typical and only Sardinian pasta, such as gnocchetti, culurgiones or fregola.
But what we must not miss out on trying is its most typical bread, and distributed throughout the island, the crunchy carasau. It is a true emblem of the entire island, it is an unique and characteristic bread, consumed in large quantities. For those who do not like the crumb, this will become one of their favorites, since it does not have one.
Its origin is very old and it is believed that it comes from the Sardinian word "kara zau" which means toasted bread and carasar would come from the verb to toast in Spanish. Always made with durum wheat semolina, it has the peculiarity that it can last a long time (up to a year) if it is kept wrapped in a cloth although of course it is better fresh from the oven.
It can be taken both dry and wet in some sauce. Depending on the bakery where it is bought and depending on the preparation, which is handmade, it can be more or less crispy.
It seems that it is an ancient type of bread already used by the Nuraghi culture, as they have been found in excavations from the year 1000 B.C. Although according to legend, it was the shepherds who began to use it and make it popular, thanks to its characteristics. It was their main food during their many days away from home looking after the sheep. It is a wafer-shaped bread, crunchy and, as we have already mentioned, without crumbs that we can find all over the island, from supermarkets to the humblest oven of a shepherd´s hut.
In short, it is a bread with unique and typical characteristics, if not the only Sardinian bread, which has innumerable varieties, it is an icon of its gastronomy, recognizable and appetizing at any time.
MARKETS, EVEN FOR TOURISTS
The commercial, shopping and restaurant street is Corso Umberto I and all the parallels and perpendiculars to it.
Olbia, although it is the gateway for tourism to the Costa Smeralda and a very old city, was almost abandoned for centuries, which makes a large part of its structure modern. Hence, it does not have typical and fixed food markets as in other towns that preserved their tradition.
However, weekly markets are organized in various places in the city, markets where local farmers go to sell their fresh and newly made products. These markets are always held from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M.
Every day these markets move to a different city, giving its inhabitants the opportunity to have
these local and fresh products within reach once a week.
In Olbia, we find these markets in different neighborhoods depending on the day of the week. For example, on Via Milano (Roman Port), this market is held on Mondays. On Saturdays, it is transferred to Via Sangallo and on Thursdays you can find the traditional market of San Pantaleon in the surroundings of the church of the same name.
We imagine that you do not want to buy vegetables, fruit or honey from the area, right? Do not worry because in this city they have also thought of tourists.
Well, in this city, we will also find a market for tourist souvenirs and handicrafts, especially active in summer. This is easily accessible due to its extraordinary location in the center. It is located on Viale Principe Umberto. Don´t confuse this street with corso Umberto I which is perpendicular.
Viale (big road in Italian) is the avenue that faces the sea with a promenade area and beautiful gardens to pass the time among typical Sardinian craft stalls. In it we will find different articles of coral, cork, metal and filigree, silk and lace. In other words, everything a tourist needs to find the perfect gift to take home. Bet you didn´t expect that among so many fresh produce markets they had also thought of visitors?
In addition, it is an area where we will find an extraordinary atmosphere, especially on the weekend. What more could you want?
A PHOTO WITH A LOT OF HISTORICAL VALUE AND RARITY
We are going to propose a special photo, unique and without a doubt which will always make you remember this city.
We are going to take our picture in front of one of the Roman ships found in the bay and sunk by the Vandals in their attack in the year 490. This ship was recovered in an excellent state of conservation and today it is kept in the Olbia Archaeological and Naval Museum. In addition, the visit to this museum will provide us with two photos for one, since another one that we will be able to take will be an exclusive photo of the port.
The museum illustrates the entire history of the territory and the ancient city, from prehistory to the 19th century. It highlights the interest of this to focus on the Phoenician, Greek, Punic and Roman times of the urban and port area. It is the richest historical and archaeological documentation of these civilizations due to their passage through the island of Sardinia.
Inside, we find the Roman and medieval remains that were found in the excavations of the old port, located in what is now the seafront promenade of the historic center of the city.
Olbia was the only city in Sardinia that was inhabited by the Greeks, between 630 and 520 B.C.
The name given by the Romans, prior to the current one, which is Latin and used since the time of fascism, was Terranova, which meant "happy place". This refers to the extraordinary opportunities that the place offered for settlements. This Roman name has been adopted as the name and logo, in capital letters, of the museum.
The museum is located on the small Isola Peddone, opposite to the current port, which in ancient times was part of the urban port system. The visit itself is something wonderful and you should not miss it. But here we have come to take one of the most authentic photos of the city. So, let´s go there.
One of the best photos will be from its terrace, from which we will have the port in the foreground, just 100 meters away, and part of the modern urban area of Olbia.
Remember that the remains of two Roman ships, found in the old port, are also preserved within this museum. Today they are preserved in perfect condition with their rudders and everything. They are kept in a special room which has a constant temperature and humidity and is always controlled for its good conservation. We believe that the photo of these remains is something unique to remember due to its exceptional historical value and rarity.
Don´t miss out on this great opportunity and visit TERRANOVA to get the best memory of your time in Olbia.
ONE OF THE BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS IN OLBIA
Olbia is one of the best natural ports in the Mediterranean. And this did not go unnoticed by the Carthaginians and later by the Romans who made it the main commercial port of the island.
Traces of this activity, which dates back to the 3rd century B.C., can still be found in the center of the city, although they are quite poorly indicated and many are still hidden from the naked eye.
Relatively recently, a Roman paved street was discovered near Corso Umberto I. In 2001, a Punic quarter was also discovered near via Nanni. But most of the most important remains have been found on the coast and submerged in the sea. That is why we are going to propose a visit that nobody is going to propose but that is extremely interesting. It may be the one of the best-preserved ancient sites in Olbia: the Roman aqueduct.
This engineering work was built between the first and second centuries of our era, to channel the water that descended from Mount Capu Abas. There are parts of the aqueduct that are larger and better preserved, while others are barely identifiable.
Some arches are still visible and well preserved, especially at the beginning of Viale Aldo Moro.
There is even an old settling tank located inside the Locanda del Conte Mameli. It can only be visited by requesting a permit from its owners as it is not open to the general public. On the other side of Via Mincio, is another of the same style that can be visited.
To get closer to the aqueduct, it is necessary to take the overpass that leads to the industrial estate from Viale Aldo Moro and turn into Via Mincio. It can also be accessed from the SS 125 Road that reaches the port of Isla Bianca and approximately one kilometer before reaching it, turn right on Via Mincio.
It is not a place that is easy to get to or exactly very visited. But it is something very particular, beautiful, enigmatic and extremely important for the history of the city of Olbia.
AN EXCURSION FOR ADVENTURERS
Do you dare to visit the smallest kingdom in the world in a unique place? Facing the coast in the Gulf of Olbia, is the solitary island of Tavolara, which has an unmistakable picture with its towering cliffs of 565 meters and 5 kilometers long by one kilometer wide. It is called tavolara because of its table shape (tavola in Italian) that can be seen from afar.
Towards one end, a narrow isthmus forms with a large sandy beach. This is the only part where there is a population and, therefore, where the family and descendants of Giuseppe Bertoleoni, the first "king of Tavolara", have lived for more than two hundred years.
Giuseppe Bertoleoni, a Genoese immigrant, arrived on the island in 1807, intending to live there with one of his two wives and their children and thus escape charges of bigamy. After a few years, he self-proclaimed himself the king of the island.
The King of Sardinia, Carlos Alberto, visited the island to hunt some wild goats that had become famous, as Giuseppe himself had spread the word that their teeth were gold. They were goats that, due to their diet, based on lichens and algae, had teeth so yellow that they seemed golden.
The son of Giuseppe Bertoleoni presented himself to meet the Sardinian king assuring that he was the king of the island. After spending a few days together hunting and enjoying the place, the king affectionately recognized him as such.
The fact is that with the Italian unification, the Bertoleoni family continued as the kings of the island and they went to Turin where they obtained official recognition from the king of Italy, placing Tavolara in legal limbo.
As a curiosity to know, these kings were also the only inhabitants of the kingdom, and it has been so for seven generations.
In the year 1900, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom was taking portraits of all the world leaders of her time and sent her personal photographer to Tavolara to photograph its kings. The portrait still hangs today on the walls of Buckingham Palace and on the wall of one of the family restaurants on the island.
In 1934, Italy officially annexed it, ending the curious history of the kings of the island. Later in 1962, NATO installed a base in the eastern part of the island. Today, the family still owns a small part.
Currently, the Bertoleoni live by raising "gold tooth" goats and fishing, as well as selling souvenirs for tourists who visit this place. They also run the two restaurants on the island. The island´s current monarch, "King Tonino", is seeking to have his kingdom officially recognized, which would make Tavolara the smallest kingdom in the world.
To visit it, you can take the boats, inflatable boats, that leave from the port of Baia Caddinas. You can hire them with a guide and for hours.
It is definitely an excursion for adventurers to a charming place with a curious history. Prices are negotiated with the boatmen and vary depending on the influx of visitors.
THE VISIT TO A NECROPOLIS WITH THOUSAND OF YEARS OF HISTORY
The church of San Simplicio, easily accessible, as it is just a few minutes from the center on foot, is the most beautiful and interesting in the entire city. But surely you do not know that inside it houses a unique necropolis.
Let´s go by parts. This basilica is dedicated to the saint from whom it is named: Saint Simplicius. Simplicius of Olbia is believed to have been the bishop of the city, and to have been martyred under Emperor Diocletian in 304 A.D.
He is currently the patron saint of Olbia and the whole of Gallura. The festivities that celebrate it, among the most important on the island, culminate on May 15, with the procession of the image of the saint through the streets of the city.
The current church was built with granite in an area of cemeteries in what used to be the outskirts of the city, beyond the walls, between the 11th and 12th centuries on the ruins of another early Christian church, built between 594 and 611, dedicated to the same martyr.
The architectural style, with influences from both Pisan and Lombard Romanesque, is simple and straightforward. It consists of three longitudinal naves separated by alternate column arches.
Under the altar, the wooden bust of the saint is preserved, while in the center of the apse are two very old frescoes, one representing Saint Simplicius and the other probably representing Saint Victor.
Now that we know the surroundings, let´s go with what nobody usually knows.
It is the Necropolis of Saint Simplicius located below the basilica. It is a very important archaeological zone for having found in it more than 450 tombs of Roman origin.
In addition to these Roman tombs, tombs from different eras have also been found covering the first 2,000 years of Olbia´s history, from its foundation to the Middle Ages. This finding shows a stratification of the phases of Christian worship.
It can be visited with an audio guide service, requesting information from the city´s tourist office.
This is a perfect complement to the most important historical church in the city.
WALKING ALONG ITS BEACHES
Since the most famous of Olbia and the whole area, are its beaches and its coast, we believe it is mandatory to walk along those beaches. Will you join us for a walk in one of the most famous and frequented of all?
We propose the visit and enjoyment of Pittulongu, known by the locals simply as "La Playa (The Beach)", which is the favorite and the most important of the local population without a doubt. It is easily accessible by public bus service from the city center. Pittulongu Beach is made up of four beaches that stretch over 1.3 kilometers. Here we can enjoy a meal in one of its many restaurants overlooking the sea or simply relax with a cool drink while watching the waves.
The shallow waters of this beach are an ideal place for families with children. You can rent a sun lounger, tan under the sun or practice snorkeling, surfing or any water activity that you like the most.
But we´ve come for a walk, haven´t we? So, leave the sun loungers and let’s continue to discover its four beaches.
From “La Playa” we will cross a small promontory of rocks to reach Squalo Beach (shark beach). This one is smaller than the previous one, but it stands out for its exuberant typical Mediterranean vegetation that reaches right down to the sand.
We continue walking to reach Pelicano Beach, known for its transparent and crystal-clear waters.
Do not throw down the towel just yet on this appetizing white sand that covers these beautiful beaches, and continue your walk to the end.
The last one we will find is known as Mare e Rocce, separated from Squalo and Pelícano by another small rocky promontory. Mare e Rocce is also quite quiet compared to the main beach and has a nice chiringuito (beach bar).
Mar e Roce is crescent-shaped and its sand stands out for being white and very fine, with a large number of small shells.
Although Pittulongu is well connected to the city by local bus, it can also be reached by following provincial road 82 for about 5 km. Most of the beaches in this area are rocky and small, so since it is a large and accessible sandbank, it is quite popular and finding parking can be complicated.
Without a doubt, Pittulongu is a great place to walk and enjoy the sea.
A BREAK UNDER THE MEDITERRANEAN VEGETATION
After so much shopping or walking from one place to another, we all like to spend some time enjoying the best place for a well-deserved rest in the center. In Olbia it could not be other than the Fausto Noce Park. It is the true green lung of the city, located in the heart of the city and occupying approximately eighteen hectares of vegetation.
The park has four entrances and a city bus service on Via Gabriele d´Annunzio for those who want to arrive by public transport. The park, which is always guarded day and night, is open from 09:00 to 20:00 in winter and until 22:00 in summer.
Inaugurated on July 30, 2004, it was created thanks to the idea of transforming an unused slope into the true green heart of Olbia.
In it, there are many species of Mediterranean flora, benches, trails, sports facilities (tennis courts, soccer field and sports center, small amphitheater, petanque) and two small paths that mark its limits. Something that we should not miss is, above all, the beauty of the water in the four fountains that embellish the park.
The water and the abundant vegetation have made Fausto Noce the favorite destination for families and athletes, who use the fitness track and the various internal itineraries, while small families stroll more peacefully or have picnics in the open air.
Inside the amphitheater there are often events and concerts authorized or organized by the city council. It is also possible to eat at the bar near the sports facilities.
The plants that adorn the Fausto Noce are all of the Mediterranean tradition: from oaks to olive trees, carob trees and strawberry trees, with some rare exotic incursions.
It is constantly changing. According to the plan of the current administration, it is intended to increase the number of bridges that connect it with the rest of the city and further expansion is planned with the acquisition of a forest mass, located right next to it.
It is a green place in the middle of urban life. A retreat of peace and tranquility where you can have a good time and rest from the hustle and bustle of the city.
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