Arbatax, San Gemiliano:
A village of fishermen, originating from the island of Ponza, it is a fascinating hamlet, destination for the ships which link the island to the continent and site of a tourist marina which offers important services to the yachtsmen who sail along the eastern coastline. To the north of Arbatax you can find the beach of Ponente, better known as La Capannina, a long stretch of sand adjacent to a pretty pine grove which, reaching from the docking area of Ponente, closes the lake of Tortoli, protected wetlands, where bustling fishing and breeding activities are carried out.
Within the heart of Arbatax, passing by the tourist marina, to the right, is the square which leads to the Red Rocks: majestic peaks of red porphyry which emerge from the crystal-clear waters and weave among rocks of black diorite. From here, it is possible to admire the red “Isle of Ogliastra” and watch the local youngsters diving spectacularly from the highest points of the rocks.
In the Red Rocks square, there is an annual international festival called Red Rock & Blues which has seen the participation of famous musicians such as David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, BB King, amd Wilson Picket to name but a few…
Along the seafront, there is the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Stella Maris where, during the second week of July, a festival is held in honour of the patron saint. Stella Maris is a particularly popular religious festival which lasts from Friday to Sunday when the village comes to life and the seafront is transformed into a characteristic street market where it is possible to purchase and to taste local specialities. On Friday and Saturday evening the fishermen offer mussels, fried fish and wine to the participants of the festival. At sunset on Sunday, young locals dressed in traditional costume accompany the statue of the Madonna in a procession through the streets.
Following this, there is a procession by sea: a boat transports the statue of the Madonna followed by a great procession of boats which do a tour of the harbour to the sound of fanfares. The festival comes to an end on Sunday night with a fireworks display in the harbour.
Passing by the church of Stella Maris and climbing the hills of the village, you will arrive at Cala Moresca overlooked by a square which offers breath-taking views. If you feel like facing the descent, and especially the climbing of the forty steps to the left side, you can enjoy a rocky cove with deep, beguiling waters. Starting off from the square and following the pathway which winds through the pine trees, it is possible to get to the top of the hill, from where you can admire the view of the entire plain of Tortolì.
There is also a splendid view to be seen from the promontory of Capo Bellavista, reached by following the road from the centre of Arbatax towards the lighthouse. The stretch of coastline south-west of Cala Moresca cannot be reached by land, only by sea up to the bay of Porto Frailis, a sandy inlet which opens up in the granite coastline, bordered to the left by the “Telis” peak and to the right by the hill upon which you can see the Spanish Tower of San Gemiliano. On the right-hand side of the bay, the rocks of San Gemiliano are perfect for those who is not wild about sand and looks for peace and quiet. They can be reached via the road which leads to the sixteenth-century Spanish Tower.
If you are not afraid of heights, via a steel ladder equipped with safety barriers, it is possible to climb to the top of the tower and admire the long beach in all its beauty stretching from the point of San Gemiliano to Lido di Orrì, an extension of alternating sandy beaches which indisputably form the most beautiful part of the shore. At all the beaches, the sand is extremely fine and the waters are shallow is crystal-clear.
Arbatax is a hamlet of Tortolì, the most densly populated centre along the coast, is at a distance of around four kilometres. It is the centre of the principal local commerce, an ideal place for an evening stroll and for shopping and is particularly lively during the summer season both along the tree-lined pavements which lead through Viale Monsignor Virgilio and to the historic Piazzetta Roma.
Situated between the sea and a great pool, Tortolì is the largest town of the Ogliastra region. Its flourishing economy is due to its vicinity to the Port of Arbatax, the airport and some superb beaches.
To see: the Church of St Lussurio and the Church of St Andrea. Along the streets of Tortolì visitors can admire the sculptures which are part of the 'Su logu de s'iscultura' project, the town of sculpture. The 's'imbudu' ritual' is an event of ancient origins, an auction, in which he who makes the best offer gains the right to drive the Ox drawn cart with the statue of St Lussurio during the Celebrations in honor of the saint.
Within easy reach of Tortolì one finds Porto Frailis, Capo Bellavista, the Rocce Rosse, the Tower of St Gemiliano, the Orrì beach known also as the Musculedda, the Cea Beach and 'Scoglius Arrubius', the red cliffs of which have become a veritable natural monument.
A journey into the wildest part of Sardinia, home to mysterious caves, blinding white beaches and gigantic giant's tombs.
Skirting the Gulf of Orosei
Our journey begins in Orosei, an important medieval city in the province of Nuoro, which gives its name to the large bay overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea. The heart of the city is its Piazza del Popolo, home to a total of four churches: the majolica-domed Church of San Giacomo Maggiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Church of the Rosario and the Church of the Anime.
From Orosei we head to the Grotta di Ispinigoli, to admire Europe's largest stalactite, a 38meter long column which connects the base of the cave with its roof. The cave is open to the public ten months of the year, and visits include a 45 minute guided tour.
Travelling southbound, amidst Mediterranean vegetation and impressive rocks, we come to Dorgali. The remains of the prehistoric settlement of Dorgali are situated a few kilometers to the north, in the Nuraghic Village of Serra Orrios. This is one of the best conserved ruins of the pre-historic era in the whole of Sardinia, famous both for its size (the site contains traces of some 80 edifices) and for the way in which the urban plan is articulated.
Porto Frailis is placed on the headland of Bellavista, and is surrounded by a natural scenery of bays and inlets which make it completely unique and fascinating.
Good ferry services to the mainland and other parts of Sardinia are provided through the nearby port of Arbatax (approx' 2 km), and the nearest major airport is Cagliari at around 125 km. This is one of the most sought after locations of the region, with easy access to a wide range of services and amenities at both Porto Frailis and the larger town of Tortoli, whilst being within easy walking distance of the outstanding San Gemiliano beach!
Starting from the Rocce Rosse (Red Rocks), famous throughout the world for their particular colour of porphyry, then the splendid Cala Moresca, on the eastern side of the town, and continuing towards the Telis, the Bay of Portofrailis and San Gemiliano - now residential areas built up using some interesting architecture - it is possible to admire different colours and landscapes, all both striking and enchanting is a small harbour in the Ogliastra region. The centre of this small town rises at the bottom of Cape Bellavista - territory enriched with the green-coloured Mediterranean scrub and famous for the characteristic red rocks and the masses of porphyritic granite located close to the harbour.
A true explosion of colours takes place in the spring with the contrast of the rocks of the headland and reef, the beach's white sand and the limpid waters. A natural frame to this is the panorama of the surrounding mountains, the highest on the island. Beside the harbour rises a tower from the seventeenth-century while to the right is a prophyry quarry. On the sea, the silhouette of the famous porphyritic reef known as 'red rocks' from Arbatax. In addition, there is a passageway dug into the rock through which access to a small beach at the feet of the rocky walcan be had. Off in the distance, on a point in the southern part of the headland and 3 km away, is the S. Gemiliano Tower.
All of this together with the ample choice of excursions in the inland areas make Arbatax a particularly pleasant seaside area and place to stay. Sardinia’s underwater world is just as diverse and varied as its island scenery. Every year diving fans are lured to Sardinia by its striking coastlines, translucent water, abundant sunshine, sunken Roman galleys, rugged rocks and rare shells.