Less than an hour by bus or car from Cagliari and Sardinia's celebrated coastline, the Monti dei Setti Fratelli show a completely different side to this beautiful Mediterranean island.
Lush, forested slopes laced with a network of footpaths afford stunning views over scenes straight out of rainforest documentaries. There are walks and hikes for all abilities, and ample shade prevents the threat of heat exhaustion. A refreshing break from sunbathing.
Monti dei Setti Fratelli National Park, between Cagliari and Muravera in south-eastern Sardinia.
If you're visiting the eastern coast of Sardinia and fancy a change from the crowded beaches of the coast in high season, swimming in river pools is a tranquil alternative.
We found a wonderful cool pool to swim in on the way to the well known gorge of Gola di Gorroppu.
You drive from Dorgali towards Gola di Gorroppu and park the car when the track runs out, then cross the footbridge and walk on the right of the river in the direction of the gorge.
After about 15 minutes, the path forks - the right fork will lead you past a barrier into the national park and on towards the gorge, the left fork leads you downhill towards the river, where you can find big boulders and deep river pools to swim in.
After fighting our way through the crowded beaches in August it made a refreshing change, but sadly we didn't quite make the gorge which is a sight in itself.
On the way back, just short of the Dorgali road, you might like to stop for a drink or meal at the hotel Sant'Elene which serves Sardinian specialities and has a terrace with an amazing view over the valley.
It is the oldest part of town and the highest. Its walls nad bastions are mostly still intact. You can start by climbing the stairs of one of the two remaining marble-white watch towers, Torre di San Pancrazio (Saint Pancras' tower). From the top of the tower you have a full view of the old town, which looks like a boat on the sea. After that you can wander in the narrow streets of the town that has changed little since the middle ages. You will find many artesan workshops and scenic views. You can then end your walk in one of its cafes: I recommend Libarium Nostrum, close to the other watch tower, Torre dell'Elefante (Elephant Tower), where you can sip your drink with a stunning view of the sunset on the eastern lagoon from an old fortified bastion overlooking the lagoon, the sea, and the old Stampace neighborhood.
You will see it from every point of the town. Local buses from central Largo Carlo Felice.
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