This area, approximately 1500 sq.km, included large hilly areas (Marmilla) and mountainous landscapes (Linas chain) as well as some of the most unspoiled beaches in Sardinia (Costa Verde). At the centre of its territory is stretches the fertile Campidano plain with its wheat fields, wine and olive groves. The Medio Campidano region is composed by many scattered villages of which the economy is mainly sustained by agro-pastoral activities and agriculture. The architecture of churches date back to the period of Giudicati (Sardinian Medieval kingdoms) and subsequent Spanish influence. However, there is not a dominant style in the architecture of this area which is mainly a combination of Romanesque, Gothic, Spanish and even Arab influences.
During the Medieval period this area was the borderland between the Kingdoms of Cagliari and Arborea, called Giudicati. This region is still dotted with the remains of an ancient defence system to keep separated the two territories which often engaged in wars and fights.
The mountains around the coastline (South West) were at the centre of mining activities since the 4th millennium BC. In Roman times Sardinia was a strategic metals supplier for the Empire and the mining activity became very intense in the areas of Montevecchio, Gonnosfanadiga and Guspini especially during the industrial revolution.
Minerals were transported by rail to the coast where large ship transported the ore to the mainland and in many other parts of Europe.
This region, rich in traditions, festivals, culture, excellent local cuisine and great sense of hospitality, attracts mostly tourists that prefer quiet locations away from the usual crowded beaches and towns. Most of the little towns and villages proudly preserve their history and traditions by hosting a myriad of small but really interesting museums. Among them: the Archaeological Museum of Villanovaforru, Geological and Mineralogical Museum of Masullas, Archeological Museum of Sardara, Nuragic museum of Barumini, etc.
The Costa Verde. It is the most unspoiled coastline in Sardinia and, with some exceptions, totally inhabited. It stretches from the Capo Pecora promontory in the South West to the plateau of Capo Frasca in the North West and included wonderful gold sandy beaches and rocky coves. The most popular beaches are Torre dei Corsari, Pistis, Piscinas and Scivu. All of them but Scivu provide a good availability of services that include restaurants, bars, beach service and all you need to have a great day at sea. Piscinas features some of the highest sand dunes in Europe (over 50 m. high) which are partially covered in Mediterranean vegetation. It is also not rare to encounter the Sardinian deer in this area.
Geo Mineral Park of Montevecchio and Ingurtosu. Mining activity, now almost completely suspended, has modelled the landscape around the mountains of Guspini and Gonnosfanadiga which are close to the coast. Many villages sprang out during the 19th and 20th century when this area became one of the most important mining centres in the southern Europe. Activities stopped around the 1960 and the entire area entered a period of decay. Today, there are several projects to reconvert this lovely mining district into a comprehensive tourism attraction. In 1997, UNESCO declared that the Geomineral Historic and Environmental Park of Sardinia was “the first Park in the geosite-geopark world net”. The 8 areas of the Park, with their overall 3,500 square kilometres, turns it into one of the largest and heterogeneous national parks in Italy. Particular attention is devoted to historical and archaeological aspects strictly related to mining.
Visitors and tourists today can visit and appreciate the outstanding heritage value of these sites and its history. A small part of network of underground galleries is open to the public. Among other remains are old railway stations, extraction machinery and tools. Whilst there, the unspoiled surrounding landscapes and wild life truly deserve a visit.
La Giara plateau. This area is dotted with many archaeological sites including Nuraghes and Domus de Janas which confirm the human presence since the Neolithic age. The plateau dominates a large portion of the Campidano plain and therefore was an ideal refuge against possible intrusions. Probably the best period to visit the Giara area is Spring when the entire countryside is full of wild flowers and colours. This hilly area counts more than 600 wild horses living in perfect harmony with nature. These little horses are a small endemic species, 1.20m high max, are one of the main attraction in the Giara itself. Their origin is uncertain and a part from the small size they have thick manes and almond-shaped eyes. They are under strict protection and surveillance by the local authorities.
“Su Nuraxi” in Barumini. It is not clear how Nuragic civilization actually started and if external influences have determined its development about 1800 BC. However, there are no other examples similar to this for number and size anywhere else in the world.
What is clear is that the today’s identity of Sardinia cannot be separated from its origins and particularly from the Nuragic period. There are more than 7000 Nuraghe censed but thousands more are still underground.
The Nuraghe in Barumini is called “Su Nuraxi” “The Nuraghe” and is currently the most impressive and large Nuragic fortress in Sardinia. The original settlement dates from 1500 BC, in full Bronze Age. The fortress was built in a strategic position from which it could dominate good part of the Marmilla plain and hills. Its complex structure, surrounded by what originally were huts and sheds, has a main keep which is 20m high, 4 lateral towers of about 15m high each and external defence walls of 10m high approximately.
There are still many mysteries surrounding that Nuragic civilization which fascinates archaeologists and academics. The one in Barumini is however the most visited archaeological site in Sardinia and the entire complex has been included under the UNESCO World Heritage since 1997.
Sardara Thermal bath. Sardara is one of the main towns in this area of Sardinia very close to the SS131 which is the main motorway in Sardinia. Since the Roman Empire this area became a popular thermal centre to cure arthrosis, respiratory problems and rheumatism. This Spa centre is located just two Km away from the town and offer a modern structure for thermal tourism. A full range of accommodation options, relax and Spa treatment are provided by a modern hotel immerged into extensive wood of eucalyptus and pine trees.
Sanluri. Due to its position, between the Giudicato di Arborea and Cagliari it has always played a strategic role especially for political and military reasons. For this purpose Sanluri, which also lies in an extremely fertile area, was always well defended by the “Giudicato of Arborea” during the middle age. The most significant monument of this town is certainly the castle known as the “Castle of Eleonora d’Arborea” built during the 13th century. It is one of the most well preserved middle age buildings in Sardinia and today it has been converted into the ”Duca d’Aosta” Renaissance Museum. There are lovely churches in Sanluri, among them we mention the Nostra Signora delle Grazie XIV century and those of S. Pietro, S. Lorenzo and S. Martino which definitely deserve a visit.
Sanluri is also famous for one particular type of bread called “civraxiu” made from hard wheat flour. It is made in large round loaves and it is light and soft inside with a crisp crust. Don’t miss it if you pass by the area!