Today, for citizens of the Cagliari hinterland, it is an oasis close to home and a place of work, while it is the favourite dwelling of the flamingos, its most famous inhabitants. In the past, for centuries, Molentargius was the richest Sardinian basin where sea salt was extracted, a practice that was interrupted in 1985. Its name, su molenti, meaning donkey in Campidano dialect, confirms the historical means of transport used for the precious loads.
Established in 1999, to safeguard and enhance the value of an area of great interest, the Molentargius-Saline Regional Nature Park is located in the territories of four towns: Cagliari, Quartu Sant'Elena, Quartucciu and Selargius. The ecosystem extends over 1600 hectares and consists of freshwater ponds (Bellarosa Minore and Perdalonga) and a saltwater pond (Bellarosa Maggiore), separated by a plane, in the context of a densely urbanized area. Previously, in 1977, it was recognized by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland area of international standing, thanks to its birdlife: it is a resting and nesting place for numerous aquatic birds, first and foremost the pink flamingo. Other rare species are present: amphibians, like the Sardinian tree frog and the European green toad, reptiles like the marsh turtle, the green whip snake and the three-toed skink, as well as mammals. They are all perfectly integrated within the native flora.
When planning a visit, you will be spoilt for choice: guided tours, boat trips along the ancient canals and electric buses can be booked at the info point. The experts at the Centre for environmental education, guide tourists and students in their observation of the ecosystem. Visitors can venture into the green areas, which are open every day and where free itineraries unwind. Take some binoculars with you, to avoid disturbing the animals by getting too close to them. The bike is the best means of transport to use while exploring the park: rental services are available and there is also a bike-sharing station. From the Salt Routes, you will quickly reach the beach of Poetto: eight kilometres of seafront promenade, where you can continue your itinerary on the cycle-lane and relax in the famous little kiosks along the coastline.