Sardegna West Coast: Part 8 Calasetta to Pula

Published on:  | Last updated: 12 March 2018

SP71 coast road looking back towards the Capo Malfatano

SP71 coast road looking back towards the Capo Malfatano

At a glance

Distance

112 kms (Calasetta - Pula)

Difficulty/​terrain

Easy-ish. The coast road between Porto di Teulada and Chia has some short sharp climbs but overall the route is pretty flat.

Traffic

Most of this section of the route is on quiet roads. There is a section of the SS126 between Sant'Antioco and the mainland that is busier, but unfor­tu­nately unavoidable. The route also gets a little busier on the final stretch into Pula on the SS195.

Surfaces

This section is entirely on surfaced roads in good condition.

Overview

There's still one more section of scenic coastal road left, and it's a cracker: the SP71 takes you along the costa del Sud from the Porto di Teulada to Chia. From here it's on to the remains of the ancient city of Nora at the coastal resort of Pula.

Highlights

  • Nora
  • the Costa del Sud

Beaches

This area has some of the island's best beaches. Easily accessible from the route are:

  • Porto Pino
  • Port Tramatzu
  • Tuaredda
  • Chia

Options

This route stops at Pula. Rather than trying to ride into Cagliari, I would defin­itely advise getting a taxi or private transfer from Pula to Cagliari. The last 12 kilometres into Cagliari are on busy roads. The distance is short, but it is very stressful: on the first half you need to cope with tankers on a narrow road heading to and from a refinery, and there's then a fast, busy, dual carriageway into Cagliari.

The problem is that as bad as it is, the SS195 is not the worst option for getting into Cagliari: the other main roads leading into the city from the north-west (the SS130 and SS131) are worse (and in any case have sections that are off-limits to bikes).

You could take the road from Santadi to Cagliari (the SP1). This looks like quite a wild and inter­esting road, but I'm not sure it's inter­esting enough to make is worth missing the Costa del Sud. It still leaves you with the problem of finding your way into the centre of town. I would suggest getting the train from Assemini into the centre of Cagliari, and if the idea of that really offends you then I'd suggest heading for Sestu and then taking the SP8 into Cagliari. But all-in-all it doesn't seem worth the hassle.

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Distances
Calasetta - Porto Pino 41 kms
Porto Pino - Chia 42 kms
Chia - Pula (Nora) 20 kms
Torre di Piscinni seen from the SP71 coast road

Torre di Piscinni seen from the SP71 coast road

Route description

This section starts with a short ferry crossing from Carloforte to Calasetta on the Isola di Sant'Antioco. The crossing takes about 30 minutes. The ferries aren't very frequent so check the timetable: delcomar.it: Carloforte - Calasetta timetable.

The ferry from Carloforte - Calasetta

On the quayside in Carloforte there are five imbar­cazioni (mooring points) and there could possibly be as many as five ships in the port at any one time. Each ship should have a destin­ation board on it, but you can also check the timetable on the on display in the bigli­et­teria (ticket office) which will tell you the name of the ship you need and the number of the mooring (the imbar­cazioni are numbered from 1 to 5 as you look out to sea). If in doubt ask at the ticket office.

Carloforte: Delcomar ferry for Calasetta

Carloforte: Delcomar ferry for Calasetta

Calasetta - Sant’Antioco - Torre di Chia

Coming out of the port at Calasetta turn left take the road that follows the shore. Turn left onto the SS126 and about 200 m further on turn left again following the sign for Cussorgia. The coast road offers a more relaxed altern­ative to the SS126. (Note to users of the Touring Club Italiano map this is one of the very few occasions when the TCI map isn’t correct: the road along the coast is continuous).

The road takes you round Sant’Antioco, follow the signs for Teulada and Cagliari. I must admit that I bypassed the town with a twinge of regret. Eventually, you rejoin the main road on the Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo.

On the SP71 coast road as the Torre di Malfatano comes into view

On the SP71 coast road as the Torre di Malfatano comes into view

I had hoped to find an altern­ative to the SS126 after Sant’Antioco, but it wasn’t to be. The road shown on the map that runs on the south side of the saline was closed (closed as in locked gates across it - so no prospect of sneaking through).

Tratalias Vecchia

Every so often I have a ‘d'oh’ moment when I realise that I made a mistake in my planning and bypassed somewhere I should have visited. In this case it was Tratalias Vecchia (Old Tratalias, also referred to as the Borgo Medievale di Tratalias).

Tratalias was once one of the most important centres in the Sulcis region —as you can tell from its grand Romanesque cathedral. In 1954 a dam was built on the Rio Palmas creating the artificial lake at nearby Monte Pranu. Unfortunately the dam created hydro­lo­gical problems that eventually forced the villagers to leave their homes and move to a new village. The old village and its cathedral are now being restored, there's an excellent picture gallery here: sardegnaabbandonata.it: Tratalias Vecchia.

Tratalias Turismo have made a two-minute promo video for the borgo medievale and the nearby Lago di Monte Pranu:

  show larger in overlay

Porto Pino

After Tratalias you need to pick up the SP73 which heads towards the beautiful beach at Porto Pino. At Is Pillionis you turn right onto the causeway that takes you into Porto Pino itself where, as well as the beach there's a sprinkling of bars and restaurants. There's a long stretch of beach that runs beside the lagoon.

From Porto Pino the road climbs very gently into the outskirts of village of Sant’Anna Arresi where you rejoin the SS195. We are now in the provincia di Cagliari. The road continues skirting round a huge military base, with a security fence that runs alongside the road for at least 4 kms. After the shortest of short climbs it starts to descend towards the sea and eventually you come to the junction with the SP71. Turn right following the signs for Porto di Teulada.

The Capo di Teulada, a little further along the coast is the south­ernmost point of the island. I was told that on a clear day you can see the coast of Tunisia from here.

Beach at Porto Pino

Beach at Porto Pino

The Costa del Sud - Porto di Teulada to Torre di Chia

From the Capo di Teulada there's one more section of scenic coastal road to enjoy. The good news is that there are no big climbs along the section of the coast, the bad news is that there are lots of little ones, although mainly on the first section. The highest point is at 100m.

The stars of the show are the three towers: the Torre del Budello, the Torre di Pixinni and the most spectacular of all, at least for its setting, is the Torre di Malfatano

The road passes the Capo Spartivento although you can’t see the light­house (now a very expensive hotel).

Along the way, and pretty much at the end of the most scenic section of the road, is the beach at Tuerredda which was, after some wild beaches, surpris­ingly busy and commer­cialised. However that least means that there are couple of places to have a drink and something to eat. The road comes into the località turistica of Chia where there are hotels as well as super­market and yet one more tower: the Torre di Chia. Even if the tower itself isn't open, it's worth the climb as the the view is superb. And of course there are a couple of very nice beaches.

Torre del Budello seen from the Porto del Budello

Torre del Budello seen from the Porto del Budello

Chia to Pula

As you come out of Chia look out for the pistacchio trees on both sides of the road.

The SP71 comes to an end at the junction with the SS195 which is lined wth trees and relat­ively quiet. Unusually for Sardegna, much of the coast has been privatised with a series of commu­nioni (private gated devel­op­ments), however, these are generally pretty unobtrusive.

I turned off the SS195 and onto a very quiet country road which runs between the coast and a lovely pineta Passing on the way the Torre di Santa Margherita.

Note: for much of the way the road (the Via Flumendosa) is one-way (and I was going the wrong way). However this seemed perfectly safe as there was so little traffic. If this bothers you, you can turn off at first no-entry sign and then turn right and follow the Via Tirso. Either way you have to rejoin the SS195 as it approaches the pleasant seaside resort of Pula.

Torre di Santa Margherita near Pula

Torre di Santa Margherita near Pula

Heading into Pula, I turned off the SS195 at the first round­about, and then headed into town (following the signs for the archae­olo­gical site at Nora).

On the on the way to the archae­olo­gical site you can visit the church Sant’Efisio (open on Saturdays and Sundays). Sant'Efisio (Saint Ephysius in English) was born in Antioch and enrolled in the army of the Emperor Diocletian. He is said to have converted to chris­tianity en route to Sardegna, and was imprisoned, tortured and executed at Nora. The church stands on the site of the prison.

Sant'Efisio is the patron saint of Cagliari. Each year from May 1 to May 4 there is the Festa di Sant'Efisio when the statue of the saint is carried in procession from Cagliari to Nora (about 35 kilometres).

Videomaker Alberto Malizia has made a cracking video, about the festa in Pula:

  show larger in overlay

Nora

Nora was a thriving Phoenician port that was taken over by the Carthaginians and then the Romans. Much of the old city is now under water, but what is left still makes for an enjoyable visit. Obviously it's not on the same scale as Pompei or Ostia Antica, but the fact that it's small makes it easier to take in. You are accom­panied by a guide, which makes it a more inter­esting visit than the visit to Tharros. Included in the ticket price is a visit to the Torre del Coltellazzo one of two towers built here to protect the tonnara (tuna processing station) and later converted into a light­house with another storey built on top.

If you are worn out after all of the cultural stuff, there’s a very nice beach just next door to the site.

Cagliari

For more about Cagliari please go to Places: Cagliari on this site.

Cagliari skyline from the Torre di San Pancrazio

Cagliari skyline from the Torre di San Pancrazio

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

If you're planning to stay in Cagliari my recom­mend­ation would be the Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi. A really nice 5-room B&B that's run by a charitable found­ation set up to help young people who deserve a second chance ("ragazzi che meritano una seconda possib­ilità"). The restaurant itself is very good too. Also bookable via booking.com (booking.com: Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi)

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

About these links

If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accom­mod­ation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.

Hostels

In Cagliari there is the Hostel Marina housed in a former 16th-century monastery. It has double and single rooms as well as 6-bed dorms.

  Hostels Map:  FT-map-Sardegna-west-coast-hostelsshow map in overlay    |  FT-map-Sardegna-west-coast-hostels  show map in new window   

Campsites

There is a campsite on the Isola di San Pietro but it gets truly terrible reviews. The Camping Tonnara on the Isola di Sant'Antioco looks like a reasonable bet.

I stayed at the Camping Porto Tramatzu Porto Tramatzu (Costa del Sud) and the Campeggio Torre Chia at Chia. I wish I had known about the Centro Agrituristico Costa del Sud near Porto Tramatzu.

There's also a campsite at the Porto Pino beach - but it was closed when I passed through.

There are three campsites near Pula. All of them had quite a lot of static caravans (reflecting the fact that they are so close to Cagliari) but they also had areas for tourers. Of the three the Cala d'Ostia looked like it might be the best bet.

  Campsites map:  FT-Sardegna-West-Coast-campsites-map
show map in overlay  
  |  FT-Sardegna-West-Coast-campsites-map  show map in new window   

Transport and services

The ferry services between Portovesme and Carloforte and between Carloforte and Calasetta are run by Delcomar.

The nearest train stations to this section of the route are at Carbonia and Assemini.

Cagliari airport is not easy to get to. If you're travelling from the centre of Cagliari then the best option is to take the train. If you are planning on riding direct then the best bet might be to take minor roads to Assemini and then head for the airport via Elmas.

Services

There are relat­ively few services on the stretch between Porto Pino and Chia. There are a couple of restaurants at Porto Budello and a bar-ristorante at the Tuaredda beach.

Resources

Tourist information websites

Places of interest

Transport

Flying

Ferries

  • mobylines.com: Sardinia. Moby Lines offer services to Civitavecchia (near Rome), and Napoli
  • tirrenia.it. Tirrenia offer services to Civitavecchia, Napoli and Palermo. There's also a Tirrenia ferry to Arbatax from where you can get a ferry to Genova.
Cyclist on the SP71 coast road

Cyclist on the SP71 coast road

Articles in this series

Cagliari: Torre dell'Elefante

Cagliari: Torre dell'Elefante


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