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Sardinia: day trip 2 - going south

We set off in reasonably good time with the plan of going as far as we could, and working our way back via whichever locations were nearby. From our base in Cannigione, past Olbia, and down the 131 ...

I wanted to get as far as Abbasanta, and spend the day (if not stay over and spend 2 days) between here, Macomer, Paulilatino and Sedillo - but we didn't quite get that far. The 131 is a fast dual carriageway, with quite a few tunnels through hillsides - and the manufacturers of the hire car had hidden the light controls so we were in the dark - and the lanes are quite narrow, with a narrow central reservation with a tall barrier on it - so when you are overtaking a high sided vehicle, it's frankly more than a little scary. So by the time we were approaching Nuoro, the town after which the province is named, Beardy (the passenger!) declared it was well and truly time to get off the main road and head for somewhere we could relax. So we took the road towards Dorgali and before long were turning into the car park for our first stop of the day, Serra Orrios.

Serra Orrios — Fieldnotes

This site is about 9km north west of Dorgali, and is on the SP38. It's run by the Ghivine Cooperative who can arrange guided tours of the archaeology and natural features of the area.

There's plenty of parking; there's a cafe - food, drinks, souvenirs, clean toilets - right next door and associated with the site.

Tickets are 6 euros for adults (kids 2½ I think) and it is open 09:00 - 13:00 and 15:00 - 19:00.

From the ticket office it's about 500 metres to the gate to the site, along a flat paved path.

The site is a nuraghic village, excavated from 1936, but with 3 temple buildings worth listing separately.

Serra Orrios Megaron Temple A — Fieldnotes

From the gate at the top of the path from the car park, the first area you find is a huge sacred enclosure with the first of the megaron temples - not well preserved.

A doorway in the wall has a foyer area on the outside and takes you on to the rest of the site.

Serra Orrios Megaron Temple A — Images

<b>Serra Orrios Megaron Temple A</b>Posted by sals<b>Serra Orrios Megaron Temple A</b>Posted by sals

The site plan we'd been given (by the charming lady at the ticket hut, who, seeing we had some paperwork on the site already, offered to lend us anything else in the hut for the duration of our visit) suggested turning towards the right and the more complete temple.

Serra Orrios Megaron Temple B — Fieldnotes

Temple B has a wall surrounding it, with 3 entrances, the middle one of which leads into an ante chamber rather than directly into the temple courtyard.

The temple itself has small vestibule and doorway with a lintel, and both the vestibule and the temple itself have low seating around the interior walls.

Serra Orrios Megaron Temple B — Images

<b>Serra Orrios Megaron Temple B</b>Posted by sals<b>Serra Orrios Megaron Temple B</b>Posted by sals<b>Serra Orrios Megaron Temple B</b>Posted by sals

Serra Orrios village — Fieldnotes

The village huts - excavated in 1937 and again in 1947 - number more than 70; most are to the east of temple B, but there's a distinct cluster to the north too.

The huts - mainly circular single roomed structures, but a few showing two rooms - were built around a series of plazas, two of which have wells. The walls are thick, and storage niches can be seen, along with seats and hearths inside the huts. The pathways between the huts are paved, and each hut has a stone step at its entrance.

Serra Orrios village — Images

<b>Serra Orrios village</b>Posted by sals<b>Serra Orrios village</b>Posted by sals<b>Serra Orrios village</b>Posted by sals

Serra Orrios Meeting Temple — Fieldnotes

The last port of call on the tour is the meeting temple, set apart from the village huts. The finds from excavation in the 1930s were not recorded, but its structure, with a vestibule and interior seating, leads archaeologists to theorise that it was a sacred rather than living space.

Serra Orrios Meeting Temple — Images

<b>Serra Orrios Meeting Temple</b>Posted by sals<b>Serra Orrios Meeting Temple</b>Posted by sals

We caught up with the lady working at the hut again on our way out and enquired about the local area - the tombas associated with Serra Orrios were destroyed in maybe the 1960s; we asked about Biristeddi tomba and Purgatoriu village, but were told it is no longer possible to visit.

So after stopping for a quick drink we got back in the car and continued towards Dorgali - spotting several nuraghe on the way - and in the town itself saw a sign to a domus de janus that we planned to investigate later - but continued on to the beautiful bay of Cala Gonone. This area has a couple of nuraghic villages (including Mannu) to visit, and Monte Longu dolmen signposted off the winding road down to the bay, but for once we opted for lunch rather than more visits.

An hour or so later, full of fish, we couldn't face the climb up to Monte Longu, so instead backtracked through Dorgali - taking the wrong road so instead of going to the domus de janus we went right through the centre of town - and decided to try to find Motorra Dolmen.

Motorra — Fieldnotes

Taking the main road, SS125, north out of Dorgali, you come to a left turn (SP38) signposted to Serra Orrios but keep going on. You need to go another 750 metres along the road - the first bend is sharp, and it's most of the way round the second bend when there's a track to the right to the dolmen, with a farm track almost directly opposite it. There's room to park a couple of cars under a tree opposite the track to the dolmen.

There is a signpost, but it had been knocked or pulled over and was just inside the field - I pulled it over the wire fence and propped it up against the wall, so those travelling south at least would be able to see it.

The track continues for 140 metres, then there's a fork and a sign directs you to keep left, up a much narrower and quite overgrown path, for another 120 or so metres until the way ahead becomes almost impassable and instead you go through a gate to the left. A series of arrows painted on rocks guide you the last 140 metres to the dolmen itself.

What a stunning spot! A young German-speaking couple were picnicking there, but kindly moved for our cameras.

The dolmen, dated to c 3000BCE, has an almost circular capstone, resting on 7 slabs, and a kerb of stones around it.

Motorra — Images

<b>Motorra</b>Posted by sals<b>Motorra</b>Posted by sals

On the road back, not long before passing Serra Orrios, we stopped briefly to look at Nuraghe Oveni - signposted but behind a fence, beyond a locked gate, and looking a little tumbledown - then back across the main road, the 129, heading for the 131, but taking a late afternoon stop at a stunning tomba di gigante.

S'Ena 'e Thomes — Fieldnotes

There's a car park off the main road, and a gate on the left leads you to a sandy path, past a fab outcrop of weathered rock ahead, and then to the left to the tomba.

Free and open access - no facilities except parking.

The tomb was restored in the 1970s and is now well preserved. The stele is 3.65 metres tall, and weighs 7 tonnes! The rear of the tomba is surrounded by bushes, but it's possible (if naughty!) to climb behind the stele to view the funeral corridor - about 11 metres long - and capstones, and indeed climb into the corridor.

A beautiful site - quite a few people wandered past while we were there, but it was never busy. Loads of insect life, particularly praying mantes (mantids, mantises, whichever plural you prefer!) in glorious late afternoon sunshine. There are numerous other bits of rock strewn over the area - Beardy found what appeared to be a cist when we were having a mooch about, aware of two other tombas somewhere nearby but further reading says the area was used from Nuraghic to Roman times and right through to the middle ages.

S'Ena 'e Thomes — Images

<b>S'Ena 'e Thomes</b>Posted by sals<b>S'Ena 'e Thomes</b>Posted by sals

With time drawing on, we hit the road, for the mad dash north, keen to get back to base before dark, despite so many other things in the vicinty I wanted to check out.

Why does it always take far less time to return than go?
sals Posted by sals
3rd October 2007ce
Edited 4th October 2007ce

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