Sardinia, lying to the west of Italy, is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean. Its sun-drenched beaches have long been renowned for their beauty, and for many decades travellers took a rather romantic view of the hard, simple life led by the island's shepherds. Only in recent years have visitors to the island really started trying to penetrate the complex network of narrow, rugged mountain paths that weave through woods and the dense scrub of the macchia, discovering ancient hand-carved rock tombs, tumbled nuraghic (megalithic) towers and settlements, and cosy little pinnettus used throughout the centuries as simple shepherd's dwellings.
Until recently walkers often experienced great problems trying to follow difficult routes without the benefit of signposts or markers. All agreed that the uplands were wild, remote and often stunningly, savagely beautiful, while at the same time being incredibly difficult to access and frustratingly awkward to explore. Now, however, to walkers' great relief, signposts and waymarked trails have become available in many places, and more and more remote areas are becoming better known.
This guidebook explores the wildest, highest and most remote parts of Sardinia, using a mixture of trodden and un-trodden routes, as well as newly signposted and waymarked trails. The area covered, lying east of the centre of Sardinia, includes the stunning cliff coastline of Ogliastra, the barren Supramonte further inland, and the broad, high mountains of Gennargentu. This region contains some of the best and most popular walks on the island, and was recently proposed as a national park. Good roads from nearby towns, such as Nuoro, allow access to the region, while winding mountain roads penetrate to the most remote parts. Surprisingly, most villages offer a wide range of facilities and often have quite good bus services. This guidebook aims to encourage walkers to visit and explore the villages, use the local services and facilities, and enjoy a wide range of walking routes, to suit all abilities, while exploring the area's rich and varied countryside.
Monte Ortobene from Nuoro
||Chiesa la Solitudine, Nuoro|
||16km (10 miles)|
||Roads and tracks, from farmland to wooded slopes, and a steep wooded path for the descent|
||IGMI ‘Serie 50’ 500, ‘Serie 25’ 500 IV|
||Plenty of choice in Nuoro; bars on top of Monte Ortobene|
||ATP city buses run between Nuoro and Monte Ortobene|
||Descent uses waymarked trail 101|
Monte Ortobene is a very popular destination for motorists, although plenty of walkers also climb it. Farm and woodland tracks can be linked to approach the busy summit for exceptional views. A winding, waymarked path can be used on a well-wooded descent to return to Nuoro.
Start at a chapel, Chiesa la Solitudine, on the outskirts of Nuoro. A small bar and gelateria are available, and the walk goes up the road Via Monte Ortobene. When it bends sharp right, go through a gateway and down a concrete track into holm oak woods. Climb gently and turn right down to a picnic site in mixed woodland. Turn left down a track, and left again at a junction down to the road. Turn right and quickly right again, following a track running parallel to the road for a while. Cross a bridge and pass a turning signposted ‘Chiesa di N S di Valverde'. If visiting the chapel, return here afterwards.
The road reaches a ‘Km2’ sign at Janna Ventosa. Turn right and go through the middle of three gateways. A track descends steeply, then more gently past pines and eucalyptus, while the slopes of Monte Ortobene are dotted with granite tors. Climb a bit then continue down the track, across bouldery slopes of scrub woodland. Cross a stream-bed and climb gently, through a gateway and over a rise. The tallest trees are cork oaks, then the track climbs past olives, steepening and passing a ruin. The climb continues relentlessly on Cuccuru Sinnurtui, with dense macchia, cork oaks and pines alongside.
Turn left at a junction, undulating among mixed woodlands. Stay on the main track, avoiding all others to left and right, and later climb a concrete track with a power line alongside. A derelict sports centre stands to the right, around 700m (2300ft). Turn left along a road to reach a turning space beside a weed-grown sports pitch. Continue along and down a track into woods, then climb and watch for a vague path on the right. If you climb too far a grotesque outcrop is seen, with a gateway alongside. Go back down and look more carefully for the path.
The path is narrow and brambly, then clearer as it climbs through dense woods, a clearing, and more woods. Turn right up a broken concrete track and pass a few properties, reaching a road over 900m (2950ft). Turn left up the road, which curves round Cuccuru Nigheddu, offering splendid views, with Monte Bardia to the east, Monte Corrasi south-east, and Gennargentu sprawling south. Reach a couple of restaurants and turn right up a road, then go sharp left up a path to a chapel on a wooded hilltop. Follow a narrow path past a building further along the crest and head down to a car park. (This point is served by ATP buses from Nuoro.)
A pleasant, easy and obvious track runs round the northern slopes of Monte Ortobene
Follow a broad, stone-paved path, rising and falling through the woods. Climb stone steps to the huge bronze statue of Il Redentore (‘The Redeemer'), at 925m (3035ft) on Monte Ortobene. Enjoy extensive views, marred only by communication masts nearby at 955m (3133ft). Double back to the road and walk round the back of a nearby café/bar called Il Parco. A short concrete track leads onto a winding woodland track. Keep left of a house, passing a corner of a fence, to pick up a path flashed red/white, numbered 101. Walk down through the woods and cross an access track serving a youth centre. Continue down to a derelict building and turn left, almost to a road at Solotti, at 820m (2690ft).
Just before reaching the road, turn left through a brambly gap to follow a path. A fence and wall push the path away from the road, while red/white flashes show the way ahead, through a network of paths. An old track leads down to a road, but merely clip a bend and step behind ‘arrow’ signs to continue down the path. Either cross the road or walk under it at Funtana Milianu. Go down granite steps to follow a walled or fenced path that turns right down a steep track then quickly levels out among tall broom. Join a broader track and turn right, in effect straight ahead, to a cross-track where tall pines stand among holm oaks at Sos Frores, at 707m (2320ft).
Keep straight ahead, signposted ‘La Solitudine', following the path downhill until it rears uphill, worn and grooved. The trail is marked left – it is initially vague (flashed red/white), but becomes clearer as it climbs a groove past outcrops and boulders. Reach a clear track, but don't follow it. Turn quickly right and left to follow a narrow parallel path. Keep straight ahead along a clear path, going over a slight rise then down a groove. Pass between a covered reservoir and a house, walk down a concrete track to a transformer tower, then go straight ahead down a gritty path. Turn left up a road (or squeeze through a narrow bridge beneath), then turn sharp right and walk steeply down a narrow path. Fork left to finish in front of the chapel at La Solitudine.