San Pantaleo

Balba Cana, a granite peak near San Pantaleo
Balba Cana, a granite peak near San Pantaleo
A big granite peak called Balba Cana

Fifteen kilometers from Olbia and only some kilometers from Costa Smeralda, it’s possible to find a little treasure: San Pantaleo. It’ s a town surrounded by granite peaks, where the houses around the piazza are the ancient “stazzi”, typical traditional buildings in this part of the island. The walls are built with big granite blocks, left uncovered and usually the door and two windows complete the facade. If you sit in the piazza, drinking something in one of the bars you can see the granite peaks dominating the town. Among this granite, carved into incredible shapes by the water and the winds, there are some amazing paths that are perfect if you want to discover something more. The starting point is on a dirty road passing through big holm and cork oaks. When it finishes, you find an ancient stazzo, Stazzo Manzoni, named after the owner.

Stazzo Manzoni, where you find the starting point of this hike
The starting point for our path is near Stazzo Manzoni

Here different paths begin. The big peak called Balba Cana, that looks like the face of an old man, is on your left side; on the right the view can sweep as far as the horizon in a clear day.

Balba Cana and beautiful Mediterranean vegetation
All around the path, beautiful Mediterranean vegetation

All around there is beautiful Mediterranean vegetation, with juniper trees, strawberry trees, heathers; the path crosses some little streams. In spring, flowering lavander bushes scent the air together with the yellow Helicrysum. If you choose the walk to “Stazzo Li Pinnitteddi” in thirty minutes you can reach the ruins of this traditional house. Go inside and you can have a look at the ancient way to build a roof, using reed in the inside of the home. You can also understand how hard life was, in the past: the house is a simple one room, with a fireplace and nothing else. Not very comfortable, indeed! In spite of this, probably a whole family lived here.

Stazzo Li Pinniteddi
The stazzo, typical ancient house in this area of Sardinia
The roof of an ancient stazzo
The roof was usually made with juniper beams and reeds

Carrying on, you can find a very old holm oak, with a trunk so big, that it isn’t possible to put your arm around it if you are alone. But a big hug can offers a quiet break, helping us to better understand the energy of nature around. This tree survived the wood cutters who produced charcoal or provided the Italian mainland with railway sleepers and seeing it, it’s possible to imagine how great the forest would have been without human exploitation. Thankfully the wood is now growing again and in the future we hope it’ll be possible to have more and more big trees to hug.

A big Holm oak
This big Holm oak survived to wood cutters

Along the path you can notice some trakcs, footprints and some digging in the ground or in the mud: the wildboars are many here.

A Wild boar
These animals are common but it’s quite unusual to see them in daylight

During Autumn and early Winter they are hunted with the traditional “battuta”: many men are involved and everyone has his own task. There are some sitting with the rifles almost all day long, waiting for the boars passing near them, chased by the other hunters screaming and following the tracks with barking dogs. A powerful scene for me too even though I don’t love hunting at all. Something really ancestral that finishes with a big “spuntino”, that is eating all together at the end of the day. Usually men of the same hunting group are good friends and this shared effort of hunting is one of the very traditional ways for men to stay together. The hunting group usually has something like a defined hunting ground, so it’s not a good idea to take the path during the wildboar hunting season! It’s better to wait for the beginning of Spring, when the peace is back again.  If the days are mild and not windy it’s possible to see a very colourful little lizard, Podarcis tiliguerta, that is common in Sardinia and Corsica. With its blue and green skin, it seems to be inspired by our sea.

A lizard sunbathing
A Tyrrhenian wall lizard basking on granite. Its colours seem to be inspired by the sea

And during the hike the jays will go with you, screaming noisily from the trees. The way back is on the same path.

4 thoughts on “San Pantaleo

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