The chasm of Tiscali

Through a 70 meter long tunnel we reach a large spacious room, about a hundred meters above our heads there is a small opening where some daylight comes in. As the sun moves

Tiscali is not just a settlement

Tiscali is not just a name of the Nuragic Village as you might think, Monte Tiscali actually is the name of the mountain where the village is situated. In the same mountain there is also a chasm, in italian “Il Voragine di Tiscali”.

Ofcourse the loyal Land Rover Defender brings us close to the Canyon where the entrance is situated, and after about 30 minutes walking through a shady forest we reach the entrance.

In the right time of year, between may and september a ray of sunlight comes in through the ceiling and illumintes the wall in front of us.

This spectacular event lasts just over an hour, and as the sun moves, the beam moves over a natural bridge and eventually before the beam moves out of the cave it illuminates the stalagmites and stalagtites on the wall.

[mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]Through a 70 meter long tunnel we reach a large spacious room under Monte Tiscali, about a hundred meters above our heads there is a small opening where some daylight comes in.[/mk_blockquote][mk_blockquote style=”line-style” font_family=”none”]

About this experience:

The walk to the entrance of the cave is an easy walk and also the visit to the cave itself is all easy going. A perfect and exciting experience for the whole family. Inside the cave it’s nice and cool, and once outside there is an excellent place in the shade to enjoy lunch.[/mk_blockquote]

[mk_gallery images=”885,887,886,884,883″ image_size=”full”]

The Gorropu Canyon and Sa Giuntura

Gorropu Canyon’s even more beautiful back side 🙂
Most people only visit the low part of the Gorropu Canyon. On this hiking excursion we went to the high part and most interesting part

Today we visited Gorropu Canyon’s even more beautiful back side 🙂

Most people only visit the low part of the Gorropu Canyon. On this hiking excursion we went to the high part and most interesting part of the Gorropu. You hardly meet any people here, in the most desolate part of the Supramonte, the Supramonte of Urzulei.

[mk_gallery title=”Sa Juntura, the junction of 2 rivers” images=”440,432,431,441,434,438,442″]
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In short

  • Scenic drive with the Land Rover Defender over a high plain
  • Visit a traditional shepherds hut
  • Visit an enormous monumental Yew tree
  • Visit a Giant’s Grave from the Bronze Age
  • Walk down to Sa Juntura and the water basins behind the Gorropu Canyon

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The drive to the start of our walk over good dirt roads takes us over a high plain and thick forests of holm oak. Only a handful of shepherds use this road everyday to get to their free roaming animals.

We start walking at a unique Yew tree that must be easily a thousand years old. From high above we have a great view over the canyons of the Flumineddu river and the forests on the other side. The Flumineddu is the river that formed the Gorropu Canyon and continues to shape it during the periods of heavy rain.

A very panoramic walk over the Donkey’s Back take us down through an amazing landscape of Canyons and possibly waterfalls after the rain. After an hour we end up at Sa Juntura, where the Orbisi river meets the Flumineddu, and further down still to the pools of water that are formed at the high entrance of the Gorropu canyon.

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Details

Duration: 09.00 – 17.00

Walking time:  4 hours

Altitude difference: 300 meters

Equipment: sufficient water, fairly good condition, good shoes and lunch

Starting point: Dorgali, Cala Gonone, Orosei or Su Gologone – Oliena[/mk_blockquote]

Orosei and Irgoli Bronze age monuments in Baronia

Bronze Age temple and sacred springs.
In Orosei and Irgoli they said that there are some hidden treasures of the Bronze Age, eventually we found them! Especially Nuraghe Linnarta is well hidden,

Bronze Age temple and sacred springs.

In Orosei and Irgoli they said that there are some hidden treasures of the Bronze Age, eventually we found them! Especially Nuraghe Linnarta is well hidden, but well worth it if you’re into going for a stroll through the fields.

The two monuments are connected by small scenic roads, which make this an excellent occasion to go for an interesting short drive and discover some interesting stuff. The first sacred sprinng is situated behind the small industrial area of Orosei, and belongs to the Bronze Age settlement of Nuraghe Linnarta (Linnarta literally means high trees) you get there from the road SS125, and you have to go through a farm, the gate is always open.

[mk_gallery title=”Stone henge? No! Nuragic” images=”417,416,415,414,412″]

Jana e Prunas

at the top of Monte Senes in Irgoli, is managed by the municipality of Irgoli and is easily accessible, you follow the brown signs out of town and you’ll get there eventually. There are two interesting monuments, the first is a very interesting Nuragic Megaron temple, which is located at an altitude of 800 meters from where you have a beautiful view around. A short walk brings you to the sacred spring. The picture above is of a so-called Domus de Janas, from the late Stone Age, 3000 BC, and is not far away in the hills belonging to Onifai.

Map of Baronia

[mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]The internet site for Jana e Prunas

http://www.museoirgoli.it/

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday  10:00 – 18:00 (Monday closed)

Telephone: 0784/979074 –3402958083[/mk_blockquote]

Agriturismo Oasi del Cervo Arbus

The Costa Verde
One of my favorite areas in Sardinia is certainly the southwest coast with the green hills, massive sand dunes and long beaches, also known

The Costa Verde

One of my favorite areas in Sardinia is certainly the southwest coast with the green hills, massive sand dunes and long beaches, also known as the Costa Verde, the green coast that turns a little further south into the Iglesiente. The highlights of the Costa Verde are definitely Piscinas with its enormous dunes and long stretches of beach, the mountains with Monte Arcuentu, 700 m as the highest peak. And the largely abandoned mining towns of Ingortosu and Montevecchio.

[mk_gallery title=”Farmstay Agriturismo L’Oasi del Cervo ” images=”389,390,391,388,387,386″]

Ecological farmstay L’Oasi del Cervo in Arbus

One of the best places to stay in this area is definitely the Agriturismo L’Oasi del Cervo in Arbus. L’Oasi del Cervo litterally means “Oasis of the deer”, the wild deer (Cervus elephus corsicanus) still lives in this area.

The completely ecological farmhouse is situated in a beautiful natural setting of hills covered with herbs and of huge views of the mountains of the Arcuentu chain on one side and the sea and beaches of the Costa Verde, including Piscinas on the other side.

About the origins of the farm and the remarkable story of the owners Angela and Giuseppe take a look at the end of this article.

The last few years I have been coming there pretty regularly with groups of hikers to eat and sleep, fellow guides have already been coming for quite some time with their groups, and we are very fond of this special place and the owners of the farmhouse. It has become almost self-evident that everyone is always very satisfied.

It is also an ideal starting point for individual travellers as from here you can undertake numerous excursions in the beautiful surroundings.

The views from the terrace and all around are huge, the food is excellent and the rooms are spacious, with wooden furniture, they all have a private shower and toilet and are heated. Not in the last place the special atmosphere is also cultivated by the goats and kids running around loose here in large numbers.

This time we were there for the first time in the winter, it was an oasis of peace. The first day it was beautiful weather, in the evening under the full moon high above us the goats were passing by, shrouded in the mist, and we witnessed a beautiful sunset.

Upon our arrival, Giuseppe had already made a fire in the wood oven so that the radiator in the room was nice and warm. After a nice hot shower we were ready for dinner, that we enjoyed with our hosts. After the antipasti of home made sausage, cheese and pickled veggies, we got a solid minestrone with vegetables and lentilles, and then delicious braised pork meat, all this accompanied with a glass of red wine and finished with freshly baked cookies and a fruit salad. The porc meat of their own freeroaming pigs can’t be compared with what you buy in the supermarket, as for taste and texture it was somewhere in between wild boar and beef. We aren’t such big meat eaters, but if a pig has been freely roaming around for 5 years, digging up the soil and rolling in the mudd, and then eventually is slaughtered we don’t mind tasting some of it.

fter a nightcap in front of the wood fire it was bedtime, everyone had to get up early the next day, we had to continue to Cagliari, Giuseppe had to take care of the goats and Angela had to continue the activities around the slaughtered pig.

We look forward to coming back soon to enjoy some more of their wonderful hospitality.

[mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]Visit the website of  Agriturismo L’Oasi del Cervo[/mk_blockquote]

Map of the Costa Verde

Angela and Giuseppe

In the early eighties, Angela and Giuseppe with their three family of three small children got into serious economical difficulties, Giuseppe, back then a technician at a company in the mining industry was fired as a consequence of the overall recess in the mining industry in southwest Sardinia.

After 20 years of struggle and much perseverance they manage to set up an ecological farm with guest rooms.

It all starts like this: Angela goes to work making and selling homemade products such as jam, ravioli, vegetables from the vegetable garden and wild-picked vegetables such as asparagus, mushrooms and berries. Giuseppe also returns to the land of his parents and starts to work in the family business where goats are herded. It is not easy to start all over, but Angela and Giuseppe are humble people and with the necessary perseverance they slowly move forward.

Angela’s dream is to start an agritourism. They already have the beautifully located goat farm of the family with its related dairy and meat – products, and other ingredients can be found in the surrounding nature. Above all, they both have the knowledge to transform these basic ingredients into delicious meals and local products. In the meantime the children are growing up start to help out in the families activities.

At this point, grants for making guest rooms don’t exist yet, and an additional challenge is that there is no good water source. Several times they try in vain to bore for water, but unfortunately without success. The next bad news comes from the electricity company that considers their farm too far away from town to bring them power from the grid.

So they just start out making do with what they have, and slowly but surely people come to taste their home made cuisine of excellent local dishes from their own production grown on their own farm. Giuseppe has to bring the water in large tanks, and the electricity comes from a generator.

In 2000, the area is declared a protected nature park and suddenly grants for guest rooms become available.

In line with the nature park where they are, they decide to be totally ecological and switch to renewable energy. They make a big investment in solar panels.

In order to solve the water problem a three-kilometer-long water line is laid out to a nearby spring, the pump of the spring gets its own solar panels.

A wonderful example of an environmentally responsible company.

Su Sercone Supramonte

Hiking trails in the Supramonte
The project Su Sercone Supramonte is designed for the upgrade of the Supramonte area. The municipalities involved are Dorgali, Oliena, Orgosolo and Urzulei.

Hiking trails in the Supramonte

The project Su Sercone Supramonte is designed for the upgrade of the Supramonte area. The municipalities involved are Dorgali, Oliena, Orgosolo and Urzulei.
So far there are 10s of kilometers of paths cleaned and partly re-marked, in addition there are many old shepherds huts restored or even recreated from scratch. Trail maps are unfortunately not yet available.

After the official demise of the “Parco Nazionale del Golfo di Orosei e del Gennargentu” end of 2005, from 2013 initiatifs are taking place to shape the newly created nature reserve. This nature reserve is part of the European Natura 2000 network and is both Site of Community Importance for the great biodiversity as a Special Protection Area for birds.

 

[mk_gallery images=”366,365,364,363″]

Easter celebrations in Oliena

“S’Incontru” or “the meeting”
Easter Sunday in Oliena is one of the highlights, “S’Incontru” or “the meeting” as it’s called in Sardinian. After the resurrection of Christ, he re-unites with Mary. Two parades with

Easter and the Holy Week (“La Settimana Santa”) that precedes it is pretty much the most important festival in Sardinia, even more important than Christmas.It goes to show that the locals call Christmas “Pasqua di Natale” or “Easter of Christmas”.

“S’Incontru” or “the meeting”

Easter Sunday in Oliena is one of the highlights, “S’Incontru” or “the meeting” as it’s called in Sardinian. After the resurrection of Christ, he re-unites with Mary. Two parades with the two statues leave after Mass from two different churches. For this special occasion the people who participate wear their colourful local costume.

[mk_gallery title=”Easter – S’Incontru Oliena” images=”351,352,353,354,355,356″]

S’Incontru takes place in the town square, the parades cover the last few meters on the herbs sprinkled over the street before they stop facing each other in the middle of the crowd. The bearers of the images kneel three times and the statues, still facing eachother move up and down three times. Then Mary turns around and both of them leave in the same direction to the church of Santu Lussurgiu, patron saint of Oliena.

All this is accompanied by the deafening noise of sixty-odd shotguns and pistols that are being emptied in the air for at least 20 minutes. The gunmen are standing on balconies and rooftops surrounding the square, and shoot in the air to scare away the evil spirits that might interfere with this important event. Afterwards the bystanders collect some of the herbs to make a small bouquet to bring home.

Orchids of the Supramonte

Sardinia has a lot of different types of orchids.
They’re such amazing pieces of art created by mother nature! I rememember an article in “National Geographic” some years ago (09.2009) called “Sneaky Sexy Orchids”

Sardinia has a lot of different types of orchids.

They’re such amazing pieces of art created by mother nature! I rememember an article in “National Geographic” some years ago (09.2009) called “Sneaky Sexy Orchids” by Michael Pollan.

One of the types of Ophrys he mentiones grows in the olive grove, just below the house, the Ophrys Ciliata, which according to Pollan is a type of mirror orchid, that imitates the reflection of the blue sky on the wings of the female wasp and like that attracts male wasps. All this to favour impollination. Amazing!

Flowering time is usual from the beginning of March until the end of May, different species flower in different periods and also altitude above sea level plays an important role.

[mk_gallery title=”Diffferent types of Ophrys” images=”341,340,338,337,336,335″]

Anyway that’s how it usually is. This year I have been waiting for them to pop up, and finally some have come out just now. Later than usual, and surely this is due to the lack of rain we’ve been having, or rather not having, it hadn’t rained for 10 weeks between mid Januari and the beginning of April.

So I just had to have a look at my photos from 2013 and 2014 instead of seeing the real thing. Here are some of the best shots.

The ones on the photos ar Ophrys Ciliata (wasp-like), Ophrys Apifera (bee-like), Ophrys Fusca (beetle-like) and the Ophrys Morisii (mirror ophrys) named after Giuseppe Moris, an italian doctor from Turin that categorized many plants in Sardinia in the 19th century.

“Strada chiusa” : Roads around Dorgali – Oliena – Urzulei – Supramonte closed for traffic.

It’s not the first time and it will certainly not be the last time that rain and stone avalanches cause problems with the roads around the Supramonte Mountains.
Not such a big problem if it would be well indicated, but

16.06.2018 the main road sp48 between Dorgali and Oliena is still closed.

Update!!

THE SS125 BETWEEN DORGALI AND URZULEI, THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BARONIA AND OGLIASTRA HAS BEEN OPENED AGAIN. ON 06/04/2017 AT 12.00 THE ROAD WAS OPENEND AFTER MORE THAN 5 MONTHS, AND TWO DAYS LATER IT SEEMS THAT IT REMAINS OPEN. At the moment just one lane is open, but in a few weeks the other lane should be open too.

Giro d’Italia 2017

On 06/05/2017 the Giro d’Italia passes over this road, the second leg from Olbia to Tortoli.

Giro d’Italia second leg

It’s not the first time and it will certainly not be the last time that rain and stone avalanches cause problems with the roads around the Supramonte Mountains.

Not such a big problem if it would be well indicated, but the signs are only in Italian, there is no diversion indicated and the signs are more often then not placed only shortly before the blocked road.

In addition, we as inhabitants of Sardinia are used to warning signs remaining longer than the actual problem. So you naturally develop an attitude like “oh well I’ll just try it and we’ll see.” This kind of attitude often works out positive, like making an informed guess, what helps is that much of the information on the road conditions arrives by word of mouth or WhatsApp messages going around.

However, this doesn’t hold true for the foreign traveller, they don’t receive information through the local grapevine. Even though you as a traveller might not be on a tight time schedule, I bet you like to know how to drive around these problems. Ok, let’s stop the philosophical story here.

The first blocked road is the SS125 at km 194, the road on the east coast connecting Dorgali with Urzulei, Baunei and Tortoli.

This one has been closed ever since 15.10.2016 at km 194. This is between Dorgali and Urzulei, due to an avalanche of stones. The falling stones have destroyed half a lane of the 2 lanes, and there’s still danger that more will come down. It seems that nobody dares to take the responsability to open-up the left over lane, and they still have to find money for repair and to bring down the dangerous rocks higher up. The signs in this case are put even 30 km before the interruption on the SS131 at the turn-off to Dorgali, unfortunately some people ignore these signs and get themselves into trouble.

[mk_gallery title=”Closed Roads ” images=”468,469,467,466,465″ style=”style3″]

So watch out!

Shortly after the tunnel to Cala Gonone you will find the yellow sign saying “STRADA CHIUSA” – ROAD CLOSED and it’s really closed, just turn back. A navigator can be very misleading; and convince you that you can drive around through the Oddoene valley folowing the “Gola di Gorropu” signs or through the tunnel to Cala Gonone and then over the mountains. Both options will not bring you back to the SS125 and you risk damaging your car seriously. Both in the valley and over the mountain there are a lot of very bad dirtroads that you should avoid. See Example 1 of what not to do with a rental car, fortunately for them I was able to pull them out of the ditch with only minor damages.

[mk_image heading_title=”Car in the ditch” src=”https://toursardinia.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/img_20161124_120044495-1.jpg” image_size=”full”]

How to drive around it.

You can detour over the SS131 around Nuoro and just after Nuoro take the SS389 towards Lanusei – Tortoli, and eventually to Baunei or Urzulei. From Dorgali you have to count two hours to get to Tortoli, while on the SS125 it takes only one hour. These driving times are intended for someone who knows the way, if you dont and like to enjoy the beautiful views, you should calculate an hour extra.

The second closed road is the SP46 between Dorgali and Oliena.

A bridge over the Cedrino river has been closed, the bridge of Oloè ia supposed to have a fracture, and also in this case it’s unknown when it will reopen for traffic, Olé!

In 2013, this bridge already collapsed partially due to the violence of the river. The water in that occasion not only went under the bridge, but also over. A police car fell through a hole in the road, invisible by the water and a policeman was killed. The bridge was then repaired, but apparently not sufficiently. Now it’s blocked by a barrier.

There are two possibilities to drive around.

Over the SS129 that runs between Orosei and Nuoro, or a little further over road SS131 from Olbia to Oristano – Cagliari. The SP46, the SS129 and SS131 all run parallel to eachother in north-south direction. If you’re driving from Dorgali to Oliena or Orgosolo, pass by the turn-off to the SP46, and take the next road left, the SS129. Further on turn left on the SS129 to Oliena where “Marreri” is indicated to the right.

Walking holiday in March

March is the perfect season
For those of you that like to enjoy a quiet walking holiday in the off-season March is just perfect. The last many years the weather in March has been excellent

March is the perfect season

For those of you that like to enjoy a quiet walking holiday in the off-season March is just perfect. The last many years the weather in March has been excellent for walking, there’s hardly anybody around, many herbs and shrubs are flowering and with a bit of luck you can even take a dip in the sea on one of the sunny days.

[mk_gallery title=”Walking in March” images=”265,264,263,262,261,260,259″]

These hikes were all in the Supramonte and Baronia areas. Cala Gonone on the coast of Dorgali is an excellent place to stay as there are some walks that you can start directly from the town itself and many other walks that you can reach within an hours drive.

Allthough in this time of year many hotels, restaurants and bars are still closed, there’s still a fair choice between Cala Gonone for places to stay and eat. Good to know that supermarkets are open even on a sunday morning.

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Tips

  • Stay in Cala Gonone or Orosei
  • Do some nice walks on the coast
  • Visit some Nuragic Sites
  • Take your bathing gear, good walking shoes, sunglasses

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Casu marzu, cheese with maggots

Casu marzu is a type of sardinian pecorino
Pecorino is a cheese made from sheeps milk (sheep = pecora, hence pecorino), and in this case, the cheese is made of raw unpasturized milk. After the initial fermentation process that it undergoes

Casu marzu is a type of sardinian pecorino

Pecorino is a cheese made from sheeps milk (sheep = pecora, hence pecorino), and in this case, the cheese is made of raw unpasturized milk. After the initial fermentation process that it undergoes just like any other type of cheese, the cheese fly Piophila casei lays it’s eggs in the natural cracks that form in the crust of some of the cheeses. A female P. casei can lay more than five hundred eggs at one time. The eggs hatch and the larvae begin to eat through the cheese. The acid from the maggots’ digestive system breaks down the cheese’s fats, making the texture of the cheese very soft; by the time it is ready for consumption, a typical casu marzu will contain thousands of these maggots.

This process of ‘rotting’ can be stimulated by drilling holes in the cheese on purpose.

Occasions and combinations

[mk_blockquote style=”line-style” font_family=”Bookman Old Style, serif” font_type=”safefont”]Casu marzu is considered a delicacy, it’s not easy to find because of it’s questionable legal status. Among the Sardinians it’s regarded as a gift for special occasions, like parties with friends and family in the campagna, grape harvest with friends, sheepshearings etc.[/mk_blockquote]

It’s usually eaten with pane carasau, the traditional bread of the Barbagia area and an abundant glass of red cannonau.

I tastes like a spicy cheese, Andrew Zimmern described the taste of the cheese as “so ammoniated” that “it scorches your tongue a bit.” Andrew Zimmern of Bizzare foods dedicated part of a documentary to it.

Bizarre Foods - Andrew Zimmern