White and dazzling in the sun, ethereal and suspended in time, Sardinia’s lunar landscapes seem straight out of a storybook. To remind us that we are on Earth, there are a few details that strike you here and there: amazing wild flowers, the shadow of the golden eagle flying overhead, the bleating of the flocks of sheep in the distance and the scent of helichrysum. They are often found in environments that are challenging to explore. You need to be fit and accompanied by guides to get to the less accessible areas of Gennargentu, on Monte Corrasi, between Nuoro and Oliena and on Monte Albo, between Lula and Siniscola, and at sa Giuntura, along the canyon of Gorropu.
They sometimes appear when you are least expecting it, like the Piana dei Grandi Sassi (Plain of the Great Stones), in the heart of Gallura between the peaks of ‘resegone’ of Aggius. There are no trees and it is full of granite rocks dating back to the glaciations, eroded over time into the most bizarre shapes. Here they are, as far as the eye can see, rising singly or in groups, resting on one other or balanced against each other: hence the other name of the valley, ‘plain of the dancing stones’. Don't stop at the viewpoint to take photos of them from afar, but enter the valley on foot, on a mountain bike or on horseback.
The western sea: white limestone cliffs ten million years old and rich in fossils sculpt the lunar coves. The paths that take you from su riu ‘e sa ide to the Spanish tower overlooking the bay of Santa Caterina di Pittinuri follow on. From there, they climb up to Punta Cagaragas, and then slowly descend towards the natural monument of s’Archittu.
Now keep in mind these lesser-known names: sos Pupos and Cane Malu, which you will find as you travel up the coast, just outside the village of Bosa, along the provincial road leading to Alghero. The path that takes you to them on foot is not an easy one, but it really is worthwhile going for a dip in the natural pools, which are covered in white trachyte and are a transparent aquarium of marine life that can be observed with the naked eye.
The underground river, from Teletottes to Urzulei, marks the path that leads to the beach of Cala Luna. Along the way, you will step on smooth, very white pebbles and rocks on the limestone bed of codula. As if by magic, the underground river re-emerges at the end of the gorge and forms a small lake behind the picture postcard beach, surrounded by pure white stone caves.
There is a vague air of Woodstock in the Valle della Luna (Valley of the Moon), at Santa Teresa Gallura, partly because of the hippy community living on the spectacular white granite rocks typical of the Gallura landscape and partly because of the gatherings in August, from dusk until dawn, and the music on the seashore during the jazz and blues festivals, the soundtrack of Sardinian summers.