Follow it to the tops of the hills overlooking the famous coastal resorts of Gallura, from which you can see the Maddalena archipelago, Tavolara and the islets that dot the sea. The routes inland are sometimes challenging, and should be tackled with a guide, but most are suitable for all hikers, just follow the signs. Others are gentle hikes, skirting the sea and leading to places where the spirit of Gallura's countryside is overpowering. The most iconic in Santa Teresa Gallura is a circular route on the promontory of the Capo Testa lighthouse, where the Mediterranean maquis gives way to a labyrinth of majestic granite sculptures artfully carved by the wind, reaching as far as the sea and creating bizarre shapes in the coves of seven valleys surrounded by natural caves carved into the rocks. One of them is the Valle della Luna (Moon Valley), inhabited by a hippy community, an unusual place that is bound to stir up emotions, some of them conflicting, but it is for certain that, in these lunar valleys, the boundless beauty of Gallura is the master.
Costa Smeralda (‘Emerald Coast’) off-limits and far from the colour and character of Sardinia... could this be true? All you have to do is walk and cycle along the old paths, now reopened, which were used by goatherds before this piece of paradise was discovered. The Pevero health trail winds through hills, rocks, Mediterranean maquis and ancient stazzi (typical rural settlements), thirteen kilometres for hiking, trail running and mountain biking. We arrive at ‘Instagram point’ at the top of Mount Zoppu; the view from here will leave you speechless. The seven-kilometre hike from Cala di Volpe to Rena Bianca is almost poetic, with the most beautiful beaches besieged by wild environments in between. If, on the other hand, you like sailing, you can watch the regattas from the promontory of the three lighthouses of Porto Ferro, just a walk from the marina of Porto Cervo and you are in silence, at the sea's edge.
What remains of the myth? Certainly the exuberant beauty of the landscapes is the same that overwhelmed Prince Aga Khan when he happened to land in Gallura in search of his paradise.
Olbia and Golfo Aranci are not just any old ports of call, their gulfs look out over the sea protected by lofty, silent headlands dotted with beautiful beaches and deserted cliffs. The location is strategic, in wartime Capo Figari and Capo Ceraso watched over and defended the coast. On the seabed, a sea of war wrecks, including Roman ships. The ghosts of their history can be seen along the paths to the outermost and most scenic points: here, camouflaged among the rocks, are anti-aircraft and naval posts, bunkers, lighthouses and signal stations, barracks, wash houses and jetties.
The path climbs up to the top of Capo Figari from the outskirts of the village of Golfo Aranci and passes the charming English cemetery and the historic signal station where Guglielmo Marconi experimented with the radio-link, before arriving at the beautiful lighthouse overlooking the sea.
Just outside Olbia, follow the disused military road to the Capo Ceraso fortifications, take a dip in the small coves before heading up to the lookout point, where there is a little notebook to leave a note for these abandoned and fascinating places.
The picturesque route of 'Romeo and Juliet of Paulesa' retraces a young couple's escape from Corsica: first they took refuge in what was to become the Costa Smeralda, then inland at Olbia, where they found tafoni (honeycomb weathering) and natural caves in the vegetation, their safe love nest with a splendid view of Tavolara for the rest of their lives. Longer is the lu caminu di li falchi hike past abandoned stazzi (ancient rural settlements) oaks, holm oaks, cork oaks and Mediterranean maquis, linking the mountains with the sea at Loiri Porto san Paolo since Nuragic times. Challenging but unforgettable are the hikes that start on foot, by bike and 4x4 from San Teodoro towards the woods and waterfalls of the granite Mount Nieddu and from Budoni towards the Usinavà forest in the Torpè area. You will cross forests, canoe down streams, encounter waterfalls and pools where you can rest and bathe. You are deep inside the green heart of Sardinia with the blue sea still in your eyes.