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Olbia (medieval Civita) is a town of approximately 55,000 inhabitants. It represents the city with the highest population density of the entire Gallura. In 2005 it became an administrative capital together with Tempio-Pausania. They form the province called Olbia-Tempio, with more than 154,000 inhabitans living in 26 different municipalities. Founded in 350 BC, Olbia used to be one of the most important trade areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, it represents the economic center of Sardinia due to its  airport, its seaport and also to its closeness to the famous Costa Smeralda tourist area. Quite apart from all that the city itself has to offer, there are also the innumerable possibilities presented by the surrounding area, enough to satisfy the most varied tastes.

Gallura region

Gallura territory is situated in the northeast side of Sardinia. It is part of the old large province of Sassari, now it constitutes the new little province of Olbia, and it is very well known for the beautiful scenery, the exceptional turquoise colors of the sea, the wind-sculpted granite rocks and the spectacular mountains of the Limbara Massif. With the passing of time, the wind and sea have smoothed and shaped these rocks into unusual animal forms, which are so striking they seem to have been modelled by artists. Gallura region is 187 kilometers from the Italian peninsulaand 11 kilometers from the French island of Corsica. On the north you can find Monteacuto, a small part of Barionia region – a fertile land with a beautiful coastline – and the eastern side of Coghinas lake.

Geography

The landscape is characterised by granite rocks and harsh mountains that, even if not particularly high, have constituted for millennia a barrier between this region and the nearby territories of Baronie and Montalbo. Monte Limbarais the highest mountain (1,362 m/4,469 ft). It represents the boundary between Gallura and the nearby region called Logudoro. Its highest peak is Punta Balestrieri (1362 m above the sea level). Its mountains and the Coghinas river represented a natural barrier that kept the region separated and almost isolated from nearby territories during the centuries.

Until the 1960s this part of Sardinia was wild, without paved roads. Gallura has unique features and stands out from the rest of Sardinia because of its own characteristics. One of the most evident is Gallurese, the native language of the area, which is also recognized by the Regional Government of Sardinia. Gallurese is usually not considered a dialect of Sardinian, since it is quite different from most of the other Sardinian dialects, but rather as a direct offshoot from Corsican.

This part of Sardinia is well-known for its most famous beaches of the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and the most popula centers of the Italian summer, such as Palau, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo. But in Olbia Tempo municipality there is so much more!

In the inland you can experience the history, habits and customs of the past. There economy mainly relies on sheepbreeding, dairy production, and poultry farm are relevant, as well as cork work and mineral processing of granite. In fact, it is easy to find cork oaks in many parts of the region and the whole area is rich in granite, especially nearby Monte Limbara. The high land of Gallura stands apart from the rest of Sardinia thanks to its natural patrimony of woods, made up of oaks and cork trees, as well as a dense undergrowth of heather, strawberry and juniper bushes.  The region is known for its fine handicraft, above all for the production of cork, weaving and the working of granite, but it also boasts a tradition of fishing, hunting and the production of Vermentino, a local white wine.

I rilievi granitici, particolarmente imponenti nel versante sud del monte Limbara, sono un vero e proprio paradiso per gli escursionisti più audaci. Su queste rocce, regno del muflone e dell’aquila reale, vivono numerose rare specie vegetali e animali.

The northern coasts of Gallura are very jagged and show a continuous series of small fiords, rock-cliffs and little islands that form the archipelago of La Maddalena, a natural bridge towards nearby Corsica. There are many sites ideal for kitesurfin, and windsurfing. due to their windy permanent conditions.

The headlands had emerald green slopes and scented “macchia” was in full bloom with rosemary, thyme and other fragrant Mediterranean vegetation. In the early sixties a Consortium headed by the Aga Khan was founded and it was named Costa Smeralda, The Emerald Coast, which soon became the site of an ambitious new holiday venue in the Mediterranean Sea. The project transformed a coastline that is forty-three kilometres long with a surface of about five thousand hectares, into a paradise haven for the jet society. The whole Costa Smeralda area is one of the best-loved places for international tourists during summertime vacations, but also in spring and autumn because of its exceptionally mild climate.

Porto Rotondo, Porto Cervo and the Costa Smeralda, for lovers of fine living, cosmopolitan tourism and the company of the elite, with their sensational yachts and breathtaking villas, which look out onto inspiring ports and natural bays with a turquoise, emerald, azure and blue colour sea all along the coast.

Culture and archaaeology

Gallura is also remarkable from an archaeological point of view. It is, in fact, the heart of the culture of the Megalithic circles, known as “circoli megalitici” or “circoli di Arzachena”. This prehistoric testimony, dating back to the III millennium B.C., presents characteristics which are unique in the various phases of Sardinian prehistory.
The main site of interests are:

The Albucciu Nuraghe. This impressive Nuraghe dates back to the middle of the Bronze Age (1600 – 1300 B.C.). It is a typical ‘corridor’ Nuraghe, which develops along the north-south axis to a size of 25.50 m., while the traversal part measures 15m.
– The Nuragic Temple of Malchittu. This is a rare example of a “megaron” Nuragic building, delimited by two ante-walls. It is certainly the only monument of this kind with an ellipsoidal plan 13 m long and 6 m wide.
– The Giants’ Tomb of Li Lolghi. This monument is one of the biggest in Sardinia. It is characterised by majestic stele, or standing stone, composed of two overlapping granite slabs.
– The Necropolis of Li Muri. This is the only testimony in Sardinia of the culture of the ‘Megalithic Circles of Arzachena’.

Transports

Olbia is one of the fundamental tourist junctions in Sardinia. Olbia is the main connection between Sardinia and the Italian peninsula, with an airport (Olbia – Costa Smeralda) linked with many Italian cities (Rome, Milan, Bergamo, Verona, Florence and Turin) as well as abroad (Paris, London and Frankfurt). There are two a passenger ports (Olbia-Isola Bianca and Golfo Aranci) served by many ferries (Corsica Sardinia Ferries, Moby Lines, Snav, Tirrenia, Grandi Navi Velovi and DimaioLines), and ome other minor ones (Palau and Santa Teresa di Gallura from where you can reach, respectively, La Maddalena and Corsica).

Useful contacts

Department of Tourism
+39 0789 52104
First-Aid Station
+39 0789 552441 Olbia
+39 0789 65460 San Pantaleo
Police Station
+39 0789 641059 Costa Smeralda Airport
+39 0789 28585 Marine Station
Carabinieri
+39 0789 67216 centralino
Municipal Police
+39 0789 52002
Port Authority in Olbia and Golfo Aranci
+39 0789 204179 +39 0789 204180
+39 0789 204179 Telefax
Taxi
+39 0789 22718 +39 0789 24251 C.so Umberto I
+39 0789 69150 Costa Smeralda Airport
+39 0789 35791 Via Del Molo
ARST Bus City transport
+39 0789 5553004 Information
+39 0789 21197 Ticket office
ASPO Bus City transport
+39 0789 5553800 Information
Meridiana Booking Service
+39 199 111333