This naturally occurring rock stands quite alone at the roadside.
We wondered if the locals had chipped bits off through the ages to make it appear more like a pachyderm. Whether it was the locals or if it was from the hand of the Great Sculpture in the Sky, they'd made a very good job because the elephantness is startling.
Ancient people also thought so, for there is evidence of this being a place they know and revered; square holes have been deeply carved into the base of it, perhaps for offerings.
It is now inhabited entirely by lizards. Watch out for the knife and tat salesmen in the layby.
L'Elefante is exactly what it says it is, an elephant or at least an elephant shaped rock. If you approach it from the north it is an upright elephant and from the south it is an elephant sitting down either way it is unmistakably an elephant. I had passed this rock a few days before and dismissed it as a tourist curiosity, one of hundreds of bizarrely-shaped rocks that litter the island.
Two things changed my mind about this, one was the road sign which said Domus de Janus and the second was a brief reference in Margaret Guido's excellent 'Sardinia' book.
L'Elephante couldn't be easier to visit as it is on the kerbside next to a major road; there is also a handy lay-by opposite the rock. The rock is perched on the margins of the road on a hillside overlooking the coastal plain from Castelsardo to the north, the views are beautiful and include a nice view of the Nuraghe su Tesoru.
To tell you the truth I wasn't expecting too much from this site but what a shock I got. The rock itself reminded me of a large red cinder, there's that colour again!, but it wasn't until I got up close to it that I realised that there were a number of chambers carved into it, I was even more surprised when I climbed through one of the carved portals into the chambers and was confronted by two great crescents carved into the walls of the chambers.
One thing I should warn you about is that you have to run the gauntlet of a group of old men selling tourist trinkets at the side of the road, there is even a man with a donkey, donkey rides on a main road?..hmmm No grazie. Two things struck me about the hawkers, one, they seemed to be mainly selling knives, two, none of them would have looked out of place in the Godfather part 2, wrong island I know but that's how they looked, all that was missing were the shotguns.
If you are travelling around the north of the island I would definitely recommend that you call in on L'Elefante. The nearby medieval seaside town of Castelsardo is very picturesque and a good place to stop and have a drink and something to eat.