From Porto Torres to Castelsardo: the enchanting Gulf of Asinara
07 July 2022
The first stage of the journey: Porto Torres
The name reflects the principal characteristics of the city. The seaport has become a popular venue for tourists; it is dedicated to various commercial activities and is the main point of arrival in north-western Sardinia. However, with its towers and archaeological treasures Porto Torres reminds us of its history dating back two thousand years.
The town is situated at the centre of Gulf of Asinara on a promontory that slopes down towards the Nurra plain. This is a point of departure for numerous excursions, such as those to the Platamona beaches, which are suggestive locations owing to the presence of small dunes covered in shrubs typical of the Mediterranean maquis and sea lilies, shells and pebbles smoothed and polished by the sea. The dunes are fascinating formations on account of the diversity of plants along the seashore, from maritime pine to eucalyptus trees.
Indeed, the tower marks the beginning of the Platamona coastline. The Abbacurente tower is one of many similar structures within the area, together with the Aragonese tower, which stands imposingly in the port and now hosts numerous exhibitions.
At the heart of Porto Torres you will also find the Basilica of San Gavino, the largest and oldest Christian Romanesque monument of the entire island, and the Roman archaeological zone with its historic baths. You will then see the Roman Bridge, a majestic work of the imperial age that crosses the mouth of the Rio Mannu river.
You will now be at a crossroads. You might go west, and immerse yourself in the iridescent sea at Stintino, the azure shade of which gradually acquires a light blue and, finally, a blue shade, and then visit the Asinara National Park and its wild natural environment, and perhaps stop at the Pelosa beach with its stretches of white sand and very shallow water. However, you may prefer to venture off in the other direction, towards the pre-Nuragic “altar” of Monte d'Accoddi, a megalithic complex that is unique in Europe, dating back to the mid-fourth century B.C. Whichever option you choose you won't be disappointed.
The second stage: Castelsardo
Following the itinerary that will allow you to discover the Gulf of Asinara, you will be able to visit the charming town of Castelsardo and enjoy its wonderful panorama. The town spreads across a high promontory that emerges from the sea, rising towards the sky. The distinguishing feature of the town is the castle, created in 1102 by the patrician Doria family from Genoa. The walls, alleys and paved passageways within the structure have remained almost intact over time.
The landscape of the small town, presenting many different colours, comprises undulating hills, a white sandy shoreline and, of course, the sea with its rich deep colours.
This precious and refined area of land is a fascinating venue with its remains of prehistoric settlements and curious phenomena, such as the famous Elephant Rock, a natural “sculpture” the form of which is reminiscent of a pachyderm. The rock formation became eroded on account of local climatic conditions over thousands of years and gradually acquired a shape resembling that of the African mammal it reminds us of, which appears to be seated, lowering its rusty-coloured trunk. Not far from the elephant formation you will find a typical Sardinian prehistoric dwelling known as the Nuraghe Paddaggiu.
Another structure overlooking the sea is the ancient Cathedral of Sant'Antonio Abate, the patron saint of Castelsardo. This foremost place of worship in the district presents the characteristics of the Catalan Gothic style.
Finally, we would suggest you dive into and become acquainted with Sardinian traditions at the MIM - Museum of Mediterranean Weaving, where a series of objects representing the craft of weaving, such as baskets, flour sieves and animal harnesses, is exhibited, and then you should definitely dive into the blue sea that bathes the beaches of fine white sand.