What to visit at Arbatax and Tortolì
The name Arbatax, derives from Arabic and means fourteenth tower, the village was in fact developed around the Tower of Saint Michael, which is the fourteenth, stretching from the south, of a complex network of fortified towers built, from 1570, by the Spanish monarchy along the coast of Sardinia as a defence against Saracen invaders.
A village of fishermen, originating from the island of Ponza, it is a fascinating hamlet, destination for the ships which link the island to the continent and site of a tourist marina which offers important services to the yachtsmen who sail along the eastern coastline. To the north of Arbatax you can find the beach of Ponente, better known as La Capannina, a long stretch of sand adjacent to a pretty pine grove which, reaching from the docking area of Ponente, closes the lake of Tortoli, protected wetlands, where bustling fishing and breeding activities are carried out.
Within the heart of Arbatax, passing by the tourist marina, to the right, is the square which leads to the Red Rocks: majestic peaks of red porphyry which emerge from the crystal-clear waters and weave among rocks of black diorite. From here, it is possible to admire the red “Isle of Ogliastra” and watch the local youngsters diving spectacularly from the highest points of the rocks.
In the Red Rocks square, there is an annual international festival called Red Rock & Blues which has seen the participation of famous musicians such as David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, BB King, and Wilson Picket to name but a few…
Along the seafront, there is the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Stella Maris where, during the second week of July, a festival is held in honour of the patron saint. Stella Maris is a particularly popular religious festival which lasts from Friday to Sunday when the village comes to life and the seafront is transformed into a characteristic street market where it is possible to purchase and to taste local specialities. On Friday and Saturday evening the fishermen offer mussels, fried fish and wine to the participants of the festival. At sunset on Sunday, young locals dressed in traditional costume accompany the statue of the Madonna in a procession through the streets. Following this, there is a procession by sea: a boat transports the statue of the Madonna followed by a great procession of boats which do a tour of the harbour to the sound of fanfares. The festival comes to an end on Sunday night with a fireworks display in the harbour.
Passing by the church of Stella Maris and climbing the hills of the village, you will arrive at Cala Moresca overlooked by a square which offers breath-taking views. If you feel like facing the descent, and especially the climbing of the forty steps to the left side, you can enjoy a rocky cove with deep, beguiling waters. Starting off from the square and following the pathway which winds through the pine trees, it is possible to get to the top of the hill, from where you can admire the view of the entire plain of Tortolì.
There is also a splendid view to be seen from the promontory of Capo Bellavista, reached by following the road from the centre of Arbatax towards the lighthouse. The stretch of coastline south-west of Cala Moresca cannot be reached by land, only by sea up to the bay of Porto Frailis, a sandy inlet which opens up in the granite coastline, bordered to the left by the “Telis” peak and to the right by the hill upon which you can see the Spanish Tower of San Gemiliano. On the right-hand side of the bay, the rocks of San Gemiliano are perfect for those who is not wild about sand and looks for peace and quiet. They can be reached via the road which leads to the sixteenth-century Spanish Tower.
If you are not afraid of heights, via a steel ladder equipped with safety barriers, it is possible to climb to the top of the tower and admire the long beach in all its beauty stretching from the point of San Gemiliano to Lido di Orrì, an extension of alternating sandy beaches which indisputably form the most beautiful part of the shore. At all the beaches, the sand is extremely fine and the waters are shallow is crystal-clear.
Arbatax is a hamlet of Tortolì, the most densly populated centre along the coast, is at a distance of around four kilometres. It is the centre of the principal local commerce, an ideal place for an evening stroll and for shopping and is particularly lively during the summer season both along the tree-lined pavements which lead through Viale Monsignor Virgilio and to the historic Piazzetta Roma.