A limestone ‘tower’ with spiers of up to 70 meters high, surrounded by rare endemic floral species, from which to enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view of both the Supramonte and Gennargentu massifs. That describes the spectacle of Monte Novo San Giovanni, a natural monument that stands at 1306 metres above the Montes forest, in the Orgosolo region, known as the 'village of murals' of the Barbagia of Ollolai. Seen from afar, it looks like an enormous bastion with an almost regular shape, a bit like the 'heels' of Ogliastra, but in reality the upper layer is broken into rocky blocks divided by deep cracks that are home to such endemic species as the ribes sardorum.
The view from here spans from the Gennargentu to the Supramonte of Orgosolo and Urzulei, from monte Corrasi to the gola di Gorropu, then to the Baronia coastline along the sea. You’ll see the full length of the Montes forest and the centuries-old sas Baddes oak woods, one of Europe’s oldest. At the top of Santu Juvanne, as it is known here, are two wooden huts. On the right looking south-east you’ll see Monte Fumai, another tall limestone tower vaguely shaped like a pyramid. The top reaches 1316 metres in height and it shares its geological origins with Santu Juvanne. The trail that leads to the natural panoramic terrace is accessible to all and an easy walk. It starts at the Montes forestry station and goes by the Funtana Bona natural springs, the source of the Cedrino river, and which, as its name suggests, is a source of pure clean water. The trail, which can also be enjoyed on a mountain bike, is shaded by oak woods and majestic holm oaks. Now and then you might even spot a mouflon, a local breed of mountain goat. Other local fauna includes wild boar, wild cats, dormice, martens, hares and foxes, while eagles, ravens and peregrine falcons circle in sky around the peaks of Monte Novo San Giovanni and Monte Fumai. Near the base of the tower the forest thins out, the rugged landscape comes alive with asphodels and rock roses and begins to open up: you may even see grazing herds along the bends before you reach a small section with stone steps that finally lead you to the summit.
The Montes forest bears traces of ancient settlements, like the Mereu and Presethu Tortu nuraghes near the sas Baddes woods, and the two Giants’ tombs at sa Senepida. At the feet of Monte Fumai are the remains of a pastoral village known as Norculanu, the setting of legends and popular tales that you can hear as you stroll along the streets of Orgosolo, decorated with murals.