Olbia, an Italian town in the north-east of Sardinia, is well worth a visit. Paradise beaches, cultural and sacred places, lively markets… Olbia is full of surprises! Here’s a small glimpse of some of them.
Minor Basilica of San Simplicio
The Romanesque church of S. Simplicio is probably the most important monument in Gallura, built entirely of granite, and is now incorporated into the city center.
The building was erected in three distinct periods: the perimeter walls, the apse and the pillars are to be ascribed to the second half of the XI century, while in the first decades of the XII century the covering and raising of the walls of the lateral arches were completed. In the following decade the covering and construction of the façade was completed.
Originally it stood outside the ancient medieval city, surrounded by a large cemetery dating back to the Punic age.
The interior has three naves, divided by seven pillars and five columns. In the presbytery there is the ancient statue of San Simplicio, a fine sculpture of gilded wood dating back to the 17th century. There are also three ancient frescoes representing as many Holy Bishops.
The heart of the Basilica is occupied by the cult of the olbiesi Martyrs, the first in Sardinia who fell victims of Diocletian’s persecution. Faith in San Simplicio is testified, since the first hour, by the relics and among these by the blood of the martyr kept until today in his alabaster ampulla under the altar.
The church can be visited with guide service, for information Museum Civitatense +39 3456328150 / +39 3425129458 / +39 320 9706123 www.museumtempioampurias.it
San Simplicio Necropolis
The archaeological area shields part of the archaeological excavation carried out during the redevelopment works in front of the Basilica of San Simplicio.
The excavation is back to approx. 450 Roman tombs and represents a stratification of cult phases and necropolis that covers the first 2000 years of the city of Olbia history, from its birth with the Phoenicians to the Middle Ages.
The site can be visited with audio guide service, for information Tourist Office of the Municipality of Olbia ph. +39 0789 52206 firstname.lastname@example.org
Church of San Paolo
Dating back to the mid-18th century, it is characterized by a rectangular body and three chapels that give the building the shape of a cross.
The square bell tower entirely in granite and the Dome, built around 1939 and covered with polychrome majolica, have become icons of the city. Inside the building there are two eighteenth-century wooden statues dedicated to the Sacred Heart and St. Francis, the high altar, built entirely of marble, and the Venetian-style wooden pulpit. The walls are frescoed with paintings representing the Via Crucis. Also interesting are the art objects in silver, such as a halo and the sandals of the Assumption dating back to the seventeenth century.
The aqueduct of Olbia was built by the Romans between the I and II centuries. a.C., to collect water coming from the springs of Mount Cabu Abas.
In Sa Rughittula the aqueduct acquires larger dimensions, with a large settling basin dug completely into the stone with a barrel vault and provided with six holes for ventilation. On the sides of the cistern there are two other smaller tanks and a water inlet and outlet shaft. On the arches you can still see the water transport canals.
Sacred Well Sa Testa
It was probably built at the end of the Bronze Age.
The construction consists of a large courtyard that gives access to a vestibule, in turn connected by a staircase with the “tholos chamber” that overlooks the source. The courtyard, accessible via a four-step staircase, is irregularly circular and is enclosed by a massive wall along which a seat unfolds, presumably designed to accommodate the people during sacred ceremonies.
From the courtyard, entirely paved, you have access to the well through a scale of seventeen steps. At the time of the excavation, the well gave back numerous finds referable to the Nuragic, Punic and Roman age, a sign of a certain continuity of use almost always connected to pagan rituals.
The Museum illustrates the entire history of the ancient city and the territory of Olbia, from prehistory to the nineteenth century, with particular reference to the Phoenician, Greek, Punic and Roman phases of the urban and port area, the richest in historical and archaeological documentation.
Of particular interest are the Roman and medieval wrecks found in the excavation of the ancient port, corresponding to the promenade of the present historic center.
Olbia è l’unica città della Sardegna ad essere stata abitata dai Greci, tra il 630 e il 520 a.C. circa, e il nome che le danno, Olbía, che significa “felice” in relazione alle straordinarie opportunità che il sito offre all’insediamento umano, è stato adottato come nome e logo, in maiuscolo, del Museo.
The Museum stands on the small Isola Peddone, in front of the present-day port and already in ancient constituent element of the urban port system.
From the terraces, the view embraces the current port in the foreground and, at a distance of only 100 meters, the place of origin of the wrecks, in the broader context of the portion of the modern urban area that conceals the ancient city.
In the background, the whole of the internal Gulf, the plain behind it and the theater of hills that surround and complete this landscape-environmental system, so optimal in every age for anthropization, can be appreciated at 360 °.
The Archaeological Museum of Olbia also preserves the wrecks of two Roman ships, with rudders and other well-preserved materials in a special room at controlled temperature and humidity..
Tomb of giants Su mont’e s’Abe
The tomb of giants of Su Monte de s’Ape dating back to the Nuragic age rises a little less than a kilometer from the Casteddu nuraghe and a few tens of meters from the Castle of Pedres.
It is composed of a cell limited by two curtains of three regular rows of boulders. The dolmenic cover of the cell is entirely made with huge slabs. On the front there are thirteen slabs fixed to the ground that make up the Esedra, a sacred area reserved for sacrifices and offerings. Probably the tomb was the common sepulcher of the Nuraghe Casteddu.
It is of considerable importance for the length of the cell, over eighteen meters, greater than that of all the tombs currently found.
How to get there: from Olbia take the provincial road to Loiri, once you reach km 3.3 you turn right. After two kilometers you reach the parking lot below the Pedres Castle, from where you follow the short pedestrian path that leads to the tomb. The site is freely accessible at any time of day.
Fausto Noce Park
Public park with cycle paths, four fountains and numerous species of Mediterranean flora, benches, fitness trails, sports facilities (tennis courts, soccer field, small amphitheater). Water and abundant greenery have made Fausto Noce the favorite destination of families and sportsmen: the latter use the fitness trail and the various internal itineraries, while the small families walk more calmly or eat outdoor picnics.
“Porto Romano” Market (Tuesday)
Market Porto Romano is in the heart of Olbia, right next to Corso Umberto I, the main street of the historic center, convenient for parking of Via Nanni thanks to the entry of Via Porto Romano. Every Tuesday morning from April to September with time 8: 00-13: 00 offers local products, gastronomic specialties, crafts, artists, music and entertainment.
San Pantaleo Market “Artists’ Market” (Thursday)
In the pretty village of San Pantaleo every Thursday morning from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm. From the first Thursday of May to October 15 the market turns into a tourist attraction of reference for the Costa Smeralda and the small village explodes with colors and joy of life.
Saturday market Via Sangallo (Saturday)
In the area of Viale Aldo Moro every Saturday from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm, the biggest market of the week in Olbia, with local products, gastronomic specialties, clothing and much more.
Also known as “La Playa”, it is the favorite beach of the local population.
It is formed by a very fine and white sand with the presence of small shells; looks like a large halfmoon and has some bathing facilities that offer all the services, restaurants in the proximity of the beach and hotels nearby.
Well connected to the city by the ASPO bus services, you can get there by following the provincial road 82 for about 5 km; nearby hotels, restaurants, pizzerias and small markets.