On our way back through Tempio Pausania we admired some fantastic rock formations. This is the main town of the Gallura region and an important centre for the cork industry. There is a wonderful pine forest here and nearby are thermal springs, as these have diuretic properties we gave it a miss! Almost three quarters of Sardinia’s surface is covered with rock dating back to the Palaeozoic era. I am not a geologist but this would be a place of interest for them. Where layers of crystalline slate have eroded the granite emerges and this gets weathered by rain and wind and forms the most fantastic shapes I have ever seen. When the Alps were formed and there was a lot of movement and Sardinia and Corsica were thrust away from the main land, the island was so stretched and pulled and a gigantic rift emerged which runs through the entire island. I was amazed at how many woody plants were growing even at heights of around 800metres, where the soil is acid there are lots of cork oak trees and the cork products are available in local shops. Oak trees of different sorts grow all over the island, as do olive trees and fig trees and there is a lot of shrub woodland which grows up to 5 metres and is called "macchia". Although I understand we didn’t visit at the best time to see lots of flowers we did however notice heather and little rock roses and other flowers which I did not recognise. We didn’t touch the huge flowering cactus or prickly pear for obvious reasons!
In the eastern half of Sardinia granite is very prominent. We decided to visit the famous Bear Rock, it is found near Capo d’Orso, there is a charge for the car park but it wasn’t expensive. The climb up to it has been made easier in a very sympathetic way and fits in well. These so called sculptures formed by weathering are called Tafoni. Some are more mushroom shaped and these are called fungo. Traditionally shepherds used the natural shelters for protection from the sun or the rain. Although it was a 200ft climb it was worth the effort even with the sun blazing down.
I did not enjoy History at school but have to admit I quite like finding out about things when we are visiting places so on this holiday I found out about the Nuragic culture, named after the round towers or "nuraghi" built from huge stone blocks. This was between 1500-500BC. These were built in prominent places to deter potential aggressors. We decided to have a morning visiting several of these in the area around Arzachena. This is the historical municipal town of the sub-region Gallura. It is a fertile area and farming of cereals and vines are popular here. They are managed by the local council and you pay to visit, you can buy a ticket for each one individually or it is cheaper to buy a ticket to visit up to 5 of the tombs. It was a few euros for each one, but as it was hard to find anywhere to park for the one, they certainly had the right idea as many people drove off without stopping! We visited the Tomba dei Giganti Coddu Vecchiu – the Giants tomb, legend has it that giants with supernatural powers built the nuraghi and buried their dead there. I cannot imagine how people so long ago raised stones as large as these without mechanical devices! Another was called the Necropolis of Li Muri this had several rectangular tombs and encircled by smaller stone slabs and Tomba dei Giganti li Lolghi, an edge had been cut into the stone as was described as a masterpiece of its time.
Sardinia isn't just quaint towns and fabulous beaches there is a wonderful history to explore.