Sant’Antioco

 click to visit Sant’Antioco

The Marina, colored houses and restaurants that inebriate the air with Mediterranean scents: it is the seafaring soul of Sant’Antioco.

This renowned town of the Sulcis archipelago, populated by eleven thousand residents and tens of thousands of visitors in the summer, is the main center of the largest island of Sardinia, which is connected by an artificial isthmus, built perhaps by the Punic and perfected by the Romans.

click to visit Sant'Antioco
Sant’Antioco seen from the sea. Click to visit

Its resources are fishing, salt and agriculture, witnessed by the ethnographic museum Su magasinu de su binu.

The manufacturing art is expressed by weaving, processing of the byssus, to which a museum is dedicated, and manufacture of wooden boats. The MuMa museum summarizes maritime history and traditions, including the Latin sail.

It was originally named Solki, founded by the Phoenicians (770 BC), then conquered by the Carthaginians. There remain tophet and necropolis (V-III century BC) that occupies the entire hill of the basilica and on which rose the Roman necropolis and then a cemetery of catacombs, unique in Sardinia.

Sulci lived its maximum splendor in Roman times: with Karalis it was the most prosperous municipium of the island.

In the center of the town you will admire the mausoleum sa Presonedda (I century a.C.), an encounter between Punic and Roman cultures.

Tophet
Tophet. Click to visit Sant’Antioco

The island was inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC: you will see prenuragic testimonies, such as the domus de Janas of is Pruinis and the menhirs of sa Mongia e su Para, and ruins of about thirty nuraghi, including the impressive s’Ega de Marteddu, Corongiu Murvonis and Antiogu Diana.

Alongside there are sacred springs and giants ‘tombs, including su Niu ‘e su Crobu.

Extraordinary is the Grutt’i acqua complex, consisting of a polylobed nuraghe, a sacred well, a village with hydraulic works, walls, megalithic circles and caves for water collection. The village reaches as far as Portu Sciusciau, perhaps used as a landing place since the Nuraghic period. Admire the finds, especially bronzes, in the archaeological museum F. Barreca.

The name of island and city derives from the patron saint of Sardinia, an African martyr exiled to the island, to whom the basilica of Saint Antiochus is dedicated, mentioned for the first time in 1089, although Sulci was the bishop’s seat from 484 (to the 13th century).

The eternal bond with the saint is renewed 15 days after Easter, with the oldest Sardinian religious festival, identical since 1615.

The island, uninhabited between the 16th and 17th centuries, was however invaded by thousands of faithful who celebrated the martyr. Currently the Saturday before de sa Festa manna takes place the parade of Is coccois (ceremonial bread), while on August 1 another festival for the saint is celebrated with a traditional dress parade.

The coasts, high and jagged to the south with dark trachyte cliffs, more sandy to the north, have ideal depths for diving.

Portixeddu
Portixeddu Beach. Click to visit Sant’Antioco

Portixeddu is the nearest beach to the city, surrounded by clear rocks and embellished with rare Phoenician junipers, secular dwarf palms and Mediterranean essences. It is made of pebbles, like the biggest Turri. While Maladroxa is an expanse of gray and thin sand: thermal waters emerge from its depth, already exploited by the Romans.

After passing the promontory Serra de is tres Portus and the pond of Santa Caterina, where knight of Italy and flamingo nest, you will arrive at the wide and winding beach of Coqquaddus. On the cliffs of Is Praneddas (or ‘Arco dei Baci’) you will stay on a terrace, 200 meters above the sea. Off the flat and whitewashed rocks of salt from Cala Sapone, the Phoenicians were already fishing for tuna. Today you will observe the ruins of the nineteenth-century tonnara.

Nearby there are other suggestive bays: the coves Grotta and della Signora. Capo Sperone is the extreme point to the south: iridescent blue sea and expanses of pink peonies. In the background are the islets of Vacca and Toro, protected areas where the falcon of the queen flies, theater of the naval battle between Roman and Sardinian-Punic fleets (258 BC).

Further on there is the lonely beach s’Ega de is Tirias, from which you can visit the wild coast by mountain bike or boat to Portu de su Trigu.