Pula is in the heart of one of the most important and famous touristic areas of the South-West Coast of Sardinia: during summer, the town centre becomes a pedestrian area and it’s a pleasurable meeting point for tourists who stroll around its lively streets, filled with bars, restaurants, boutiques, shops selling typical artisan products and traditional food.
The South-West Sardinian Coast is one of the most fascinating places of the island. The area is also named Sulcis and it is renewed for its lagoons and long white beaches and its succession of sandy dunes and cliffs overlooking the wonderful.
Behind the shore is the wild mountain nature of the Pixina Manna forest and its nature reserves. Inhabited by deer and golden eagles and surrounded by ancient archaeological sites (from the Nuragic ruins of Santa Margherita to the Phoenician Nora), the nature reserves are overlooking the shore as they were ancient Spanish turrets. From Pula, you can set off to a new adventure every day.
A small and well-kept museum, exhibiting vases, amphorae, jewels and several other precious artefacts coming from the nearby archaeological site of Nora. At the entryway, there’s a stone with the symbol of the Punic goddess Tanith.
On Tuesday mornings – worth a visit to stock up on Sardinian handicraft and other local products.
To enjoy a different afternoon, immersed in nature, experience the exciting paths on the trees of the Adventure Park of Pula. The structure is well organized in two suspended trails: one for children under 1.40 cm and one for adults and young adults. You’ll be safely assisted by qualified and patient instructors; there’s no need for previous experience nor for suitable equipment (harnesses and helmets), which are supplied together with a brochure at the park entrance. The park closes at 8:30 PM. There’s a snack bar inside.
In Sarroch, 2 km from Pula, is the BluFan, a water park open all summer from 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM , offering a variety of rides for the entire family, including slides, toboggans, waterfalls, water features, entertainments and shows.
West of Cagliari, just a few kilometres away from Pula, the archaeological site of Nora is definitively one of the places to visit (be careful to avoid the hottest hours of the day) on the Southern Coast of Sardinia. Qualified guides will accompany you on the tour of the amazing ruins of the Phoenician, Punic and Roman civilization, on which archaeologists are still working on.
Strategically located between two ports, on the ridge of Capo Pula, the ancient Nuragic city has well preserved ruins of the Phoenician temple of Esculapio, traces of the roman market and of the Roman thermal baths, all with beautiful and well preserved mosaics. Still visible are the water ducts, the cisterns and some ruins of the necropolis. Worthy of note is the wonderful Roman theatre, amazing summer location for outdoor shows.
With a nice stroll along the beach and past the ruins of Nora, you can reach the Coltellazzo Tower, which once defended and protected Pula’s tuna trap. The promenade is even more fascinating at sunset.
After bathing at Nora beach and exploring the nearby archaeological site, a visit to the church of Saint Efisio is highly recommended. This beautiful Roman Church on the seaside, houses the remains of Sant’Efisio. The inside of the church has three small aisles is completely bare, but very evocative. Since 1657, on the 2nd of May, the church fills up with many pilgrims who pay their respect to the Saint. The pilgrims set off in a procession from Cagliari to Pula. The procession starts in Cagliari on the 1st of May and arrives in Pula on the following day.
Nora Lagoon lies behind the archaeological site of Nora and its beach, hosts a turtle rescue centre and several workshops on the environmental education. The guided tours include: snorkelling, with the opportunity of admiring many species of fish, sea stars and anemones, canoeing to discover the wildest corners of the lagoon, bird watching to observe herons, pink flamingos and other water birds in their natural habitat, and finally a visit to the Mediterranean Aquarium which even displays a few cetacean skeletons. At the turtle rescue centre you may have a close encounter with one or more of the many hospitalized specimens waiting to be released back into the wild. The Lagoon is also home to a well known restaurant that offers a local and very high quality seafood cuisine.
The natural reserve of Monte Arcosu “Piscinamanna” is the largest WWF oasis in Italy; it is located in the South-West Sardinian mountain region, north of Pula, just a few kilometres away from Cagliari, and it extends for almost 4000 hectares in an area crossed by the river Riu Guttureddu, and covered by a thick forest of holms and cork oaks and by Mediterranean scrub. The area is renowned among naturalists for the presence of the Sardinian deer, and it is populated by fallow deer, wild cats, golden eagles, Sardinian goshawk, peregrine falcons and native species such as the butterfly “Macaone sardo”. From July 15th through to September 15th, the reserve can only be visited on a guided tour, which must be booked for a minimum of 8 people.
The amazing caves of Is Zuddas carved by water erosion, are located at 256 meters above the sea level, inside the Monte Meana. They are 6 km from the town of Santadi, approximately 50 Km from Pula and 60 km from Cagliari.
The caves covers an area of 1650 m2, but only a third of it can be visited; they include four halls each one completely different from the other due to the stalactite and stalagmite configuration.
The evocative Organ Hall is covered by white crystals of needle-shaped aragonites. At Christmas a large Nativity is arrange in the Organ Hall and mass is here celebrated. Just as breathtaking is the Theatre Hall and the Eccentric Hall, both of which are famous for their eccentric aragonites, amazingly shaped like small trees.
Right next to the entrance, there are traces of the Polagus Sardus, a rodent which became extinct about 4000 years ago and only evolved in Sardinia and Corsica.
From April through to September, the caves are open to the public every day from 9:30 AM to 12:00 noon and from 2:30 PM to 6 6:00 PM.
Highly recommended is a guided tour of the most important Nuragic site in Sardinia “Su Nuraxi“, also appointed world heritage site by UNESCO in 1997.The site is located in the village of Barumini, north of Cagliari, direction Tuili.
The original site included five turrets; a main turret called Mastio and four side turrets joined by walls, which enclosed a courtyard provided with a well and surrounded by houses.
Su Nuraxi has undergone different historical eras, from the Middle Bronze Age (1550-1300 B.C.) to the Punic-Roman Age (5th Century B.C. – 3rd Century A.C.), thus characterized by continuous changes. The most interesting ruins which are still standing are those of the dwellings dating back to the beginning of the Iron Age, with well preserved kitchens and ovens.
The best historical attractions are located in the ancient district of “Castello”, right in the centre of the town. “Castello” is still enclosed in its Medieval walls displaying the towers of Saint Pancrazio and the Elephant tower. In the precinct are found the Cathedral of Cagliari “Santa Maria” and the National Archaeological Museum “La Cittadella dei Musei”. Just outside the precinct, and worth a visit, are the Roman Amphitheatre, the Botanical Garden, the districts of “Marina” “Stampace” and “Villanova”. “Mercato di San Benedetto” , the largest Fish Market in Europe, is located a few minutes away from the district of “Castello”.
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