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Villasimius > Castiadas

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The first Sardinian stage is of medium length and medium altitude, but is not difficult; from Monte Minniminni we enjoy a beautiful panorama of Capo Carbonara.

Special Notes

This stage is a variation of the Sentiero Italia (which begins in Castiadas), starting in the beautiful seaside resort of Villasimius with a warm-up lap before heading into the mountains on the next stage.

This stage should be avoided in the mid-summer months because of the intense heat.

On the ascent to Monte Minniminni, you have to cross a private property bordered by a fence and a sign. On it you will find the number of the owner, whom you must call to obtain permission to pass.

No water points.

when to go
March - November
Suitable for
how to get there
description of the route

After a swim in the crystal-clear sea, we pass the village of Villasimius and turn onto a dirt road that shortly crosses the bottom of a (mostly dry) river and heads towards the mountain slopes. After a few kilometres we meet the asphalt road again: we take it to the left, then return to the dirt road and slowly start the climb (about 650 m height difference) to Monte Minniminni.

When we come to a red bar marking the boundary of a private property, we call the owner to get permission to pass (the telephone number is on a sign to the left of the bar); then we continue until we come to a green bar on the left, cross it and go uphill along a wide mule track strewn with pebbles. The gradient increases and we continue in switchbacks, among junipers and mastic trees, until we reach the summit of Minniminni (725 m), which is unfortunately destroyed by antennas; however, the view is exciting.

We continue to the right along the ridge, passing a forester's lodge (which serves as a fire station, of which there are several on the Sardinian stages) and some dirt roads that descend to the left. We stay on the ridge on a path, then near a wide hairpin bend we take a wide mule track to the left and begin the descent (about 400 m drop) towards Castiadas, soon entering a forest of holm and cork oaks.

The small road eventually flattens out, so we take a paved road to the left, round a small lake and cross under the state road; shortly afterwards we reach the former penal colony of Castiadas.

What to know

Castiadas is a scattered municipality that was established in 1986.

Following World War II many inhabitants came to the area from neighbouring towns and further: the contribution of Italo-Tunisians returning home after the war was important.

The establishment of an agricultural penal colony enabled the marshy land to be reclaimed. Closed in 1959, the colony was in such an isolated location that the inmates were allowed to live in normal houses. Today, the colony has become a museum that tells the story of the area.

Castiadas is located in one of the largest parks in Sardinia (about 60 thousand hectares): the Parco dei Sette Fratelli.

The park takes its name from the seven imposing granite pinnacles that mark the profile of the massif of the same name. They are characterised by huge boulders suspended in equilibrium, placed at the top as if by a divine hand. This is a geological phenomenon that occurred in the Carboniferous period (245 to 280 million years ago), when masses of molten rock solidified underground and were pushed outwards by the tectonic movements that later formed the geological framework of Sardinia.

The massif is a true green lung with almost ten thousand hectares of forest (including vast areas of strawberry trees), in the midst of which lives a rare species of animal: the Sardinian deer, a subspecies of the European deer that has become an endemic breed with more than two thousand specimens. Another rare species in the area is the mouflon, which was reintroduced in 1987 (it is not uncommon to encounter it near Mount Genis), while the fallow deer live in special fenced areas. Among the birds, the presence of no less than five pairs of golden eagles is worth mentioning.

What to see

Near Villasimius was the Phoenician settlement of Cuccureddus.

It was an important port in the Gulf of Carbonara, settled since the 7th century BC by Phoenician peoples who found in the mouth of the river Foxi a natural harbour where they could settle. It was a meeting place for seafarers who traded along the Italic coast and throughout the Mediterranean. Archaeological investigations of the remains of the settlement have brought to light the existence of a sanctuary dedicated to the Phoenician goddess Astarte: it was concluded that it was a place where sacred prostitution took place - also due to the discovery of numerous perfumed ointments and a phallus-shaped gargoyle. In addition to the sanctuary, archaeological investigations begun in 1983 by Piero Bartolini and Luisa Anna Marras uncovered private dwellings and numerous storehouses.

The settlement was heavily attacked and abandoned by the Carthaginians in the 6th century BC. Paradoxically, the destruction of Is Cuccureddus helped to preserve the remains of the settlement: The fire burnt the buildings in pressed raw clay and handed them down to the present day.

Also in the direction of Villasimius, near the beach of Is Traias, is the necropolis of Accu Is Traias. In the thirty tombs uncovered, numerous cult objects and grave goods were found, including several completely intact ones. The necropolis was used from the 1st to the 4th century AD with various forms of burial: Pits, urns and enchytrismos - bodies were buried in amphorae.

what to eat

A typical local focaccia is sa costedda, a soft and fragrant focaccia with fresh tomatoes or onions, unique in the whole region.

The dough for the focaccia is made by mixing flour with polpa de tamata, the tomato paste (the same process can be done with onions). No water is used. The origins of this focaccia, also called costedda cun tamata (tomato bread), are unknown: it is probably a recipe that became popular at the beginning of the 20th century.

There are many beekeepers in the region who specialise in certain types of honey, including citrus, carob, strawberry and eucalyptus honey.

The latter is available in large quantities: It was planted by prisoners to suck water out of the ground and serve as a windbreak.

where to sleep

Casa per ferie Villaggio Carovana, 2.5 km from the former Castiadas prison, in a north-easterly direction. Tel. +39329 354 6375


The starting point is accessible by car.

The starting point can be reached by bus, starting from the city of Cagliari.

Here is the LINK to check the timetable.

The starting point is NOT accessible by train.

“On the summit of Minniminni we meet Mr Mario, a forestry official, in a fire-watching hut. He tells us about the Sardinian holm oak, the mastic oil and about the time when (before the advent of mobile phones) he read Tex comics to pass the time in his 'office' in the middle of nowhere”

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