Sense of freedom, a rhythmic pace, mild climate, captivating scenery, not much traffic on the roads, sometimes deserted, silence that amplifies the sounds of nature. It is Sardinia on the saddle: lovers of cycling holidays will enjoy itineraries in direct contact with the landscape and the communities of an ancient land, with long uncontaminated stretches, sometimes rugged and wild. The roads merge with places rich in natural treasures and archaeological and cultural attractions and they satisfy the needs of those who combine passion for cycling and nature with a 'thirst' for knowledge. Two wheels are the means of transport and also the central theme. You can discover the area in which you are staying on ring-shaped routes or you can take a tour in stages with itinerant stays: a different location every day. On a road bike or a mountain bike (for off-road lovers), along the coast or in the hinterland, preferably in spring or autumn, there are routes of varying difficulty, for expert cyclists or amateurs. The Cycling network of Sardinia will contribute to the wide range of proposals and is a project that involves the creation and safety of over 50 itineraries, over a total of 2700 kilometres on tracks that already exist, mostly secondary roads, but also state roads, cycle paths and disused railways.
The network involves two thirds of the Sardinian municipalities, six parks, almost one hundred protected areas and over 700 places of historical and naturalistic interest. As well as by airport, port and railway gates, it will also be connected by cycle lanes and paths inside the parks. In the north, you will be spoilt for choice. The park of Porto Conte is crossed by three itineraries linked to the main network: a route of 15 kilometres in the area of Capo Caccia, which crosses the forest of Le Prigionette, Cala della Barca and Monte Timidone; another of six and a half kilometres that leads to Punta Giglio, passing through the ruins of the Second World War and a third route in the Monte Doglia-Arenosu district, consisting of two rings, seven and nine kilometres long, along a cycle path from Fertilia to the nuraghe Palmavera. Next to it, in the territory of Sassari, you will find three other neighbouring mountain bike itineraries: an easy ring-shaped trail around Lake Baratz, the only natural basin in Sardinia; a second itinerary extends from a body of water, in the shade of pine trees, holm oaks and eucalyptus trees, to the dunes of Porto Ferro; the third is the coastal trail, running alongside splendid little coves, with cliffs overlooking the sea and Spanish towers and ending at the northern border of Le Prigionette.
A 25-kilometre concrete ridge, which can be travelled along by road bike, crosses the Asinara National Park. Thematic paths branch off from the central axis and can be tackled by mountain bike. From the former prison of Fornelli, the water trail begins, with the sea, springs, streams, ponds and dams as protagonists; the Castellaccio trail allows you to discover medieval ruins; the granite trail takes you through the Mediterranean scrub, quarries and the beautiful (and not accessible) Cala Sant’Andrea. From the village of Cala d’Oliva, there is the holm oak trail, as far as the Elighe Mannu wood, and the lighthouse trail, a dirt road that passes through the beautiful Cala Sabina and arrives at the lighthouse of Punta Scorno. Nature reigns supreme here and animals live undisturbed, among which there is the white donkey, to which a trail is dedicated. A five-kilometre trail starts at Cala Reale, as does the trail of memory, tracing the history of the island: from the domus de Janas of Campu Perdu to the Austro-Hungarian Ossuary (1938). From the northwest to the northeast. In the National Park of the Maddalena Archipelago, you can circumnavigate La Maddalena on your bike in a little less than an hour; meanwhile, in Caprera, the ‘little sister’ connected to an isthmus, you can cycle through an uncontaminated territory. The only buildings make up the Compendio Garibaldino, one of the most visited museums in Sardinia.
Relaxing and engaging atmospheres, landscapes that change continuously. Another beautiful park, a UNESCO site, to be explored on a mountain bike, is the Oasis of Tepilora, between Montalbo and the coast of Baronie. It is easy to get to from Posada or Siniscola. Cycling is the perfect way to discover the Sinis peninsula, which is a ‘piece’ of the authentic Sardinia, partly uncontaminated and with traditions deeply-rooted in a remote and glorious past, interpreted by the Giants of Mont’e Prama. From Cabras, set between two basins and in the habitat of pink flamingos, you will venture into the protected marine area: some stretches of the coast are low and sandy, like in San Giovanni di Sinis, others have quartz sand, like in is Arutas, while some stretches are rocky with imposing cliffs. Spanish towers watch over the coastal road. The itinerary runs close to San Salvatore di Sinis, a village where the barefoot race known as the Corsa degli Scalzi takes place. In continuous uphill and downhill stretches, history moves towards the 8th century BC, on the southern tip of the peninsula, where you can admire the ruins of the town of Tharros, a centre of trade founded by the Phoenicians and important for the Carthaginians and the Romans. The best time to visit it is at sunset, when the red sun sets on the sea. Around the Cabras Ponds, the pink flamingos are the stars.
A scenic and historical-cultural heritage, a combination of industrial archaeology and worship, embodies the soul of Sulcis. Historic tracks along disused mines and places of worship dedicated to the patron saint of miners make up the Santa Barbara route. The tracks are challenging, on asphalt, dirt paths, mule tracks and disused railways: 24 stages over a total of 400 kilometres, to be covered on a mountain bike. Duration: one week. The route occupies three quarters of the Geo-mining park of Sardinia. It is ‘ring-shaped’ and begins and ends at Iglesias, connecting over twenty towns in the Sulcis-Iglesiente and the Guspinese regions. You will go from elevations rich in metal deposits to coastal mining settlements, like Nebida and Masua - with the (once) futuristic tunnel of Porto Flavia in front of the Pan di Zucchero sea stack; from the woods of Marganai to the Piscinas dunes, from Buggerru to the beach of Portixeddu, from the mine of Serbariu to the caves of is Zuddas in Santadi and to the grottoes of San Giovanni at Domusnovas. Also in Sulcis you will find other ideal routes in the park of Gutturu Mannu. Other places worth exploring on a mountain bike, near Cagliari, are the park of Monte Arcosu, in Medio Campidano, the park of Monte Arci, which is full of holm oaks, olive trees, cork oaks, Mediterranean scrub and obsidian, Neolithic black gold.
Here, life follows the spirit of the proud and gentle wild horses that run freely between the huge pools created by the rains (paulis). There is a myriad of trails crossing the 4400 hectares of the Giara Park, a basalt plateau at a height of 600 metres. Silence and a suspended, lunar atmosphere, due to the volcanic stones, accompany the rhythm of your cycling. In the distance, the little horses watch as they stand around trees bent by the northwesterly wind, with splendid narcissus and orchids blooming, Mediterranean scents and abundant human, prehistoric and historical elements. The ring-shaped itinerary is 40 kilometres long. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the top: the effort will be amply rewarded. The route is on mixed ground, to be tackled by mountain bike: you will be cycling on stretches of dirt road as well as concrete and asphalt. The trail starts and ends at Turri or Tuili. The first direction is Barumini, where the su Nuraxi, an impressive nuraghe, stands out and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The itinerary continues along the gentle hills of the Marmilla, covered in golden expanses of wheat in the springtime. From Gesturi, the road begins to climb: four kilometres uphill to reach the heart of Giara, alongside springs and pinnettas as far as the asphalted downhill stretch towards Genuri. Along the way, you can visit the little funeral caves of sa domu de s’Orcu. Proceed towards Setzu and then Tuili and Turri again, closing the ring.
The regional network enters the metropolitan city of Cagliari and connects to the cycle lanes, like those of the long promenade of Poetto. It also connects to thematic routes inside city parks, like that of the Molentargius-Saline Park. From the capital city and its surroundings, you will set out to discover unusual places along the 'old' state road SS 125: thirty kilometres (and back) to San Priamo, a district of San Vito. Departure is from Quartucciu, moving along the artificial reservoir of Simbirizzi. You will travel along a road in between valleys, precipices and woods: the further you enter into the old eastern part of Sardinia, the more you go back in time. Bends and uphill and downhill stretches accompany you into the oasis of Sette Fratelli, a regional park that embraces 58 thousand hectares, partly covered in forests and dominated by peaks of around one thousand metres in altitude. Mountain bike lovers can cycle along marked trails here. After leaving Campuomu behind you and reaching the junction for Burcei, you can enjoy a splendid view of Cagliari and the Golfo degli Angeli. The rest is all downhill! From San Gregorio to the junction for Mont’e Cresia until the return journey into the Cagliari hinterland.