If you were interested in the history of an Island like Sardinia, an isolated “footprint” in the Mediterranean, you might think that you’d have to visit an enormous city. In little Sardara you can find out how clay soil was turned into roof tiles, you can descend into a bronze age Nuragic well temple, you can visit churches built starting in the 10th century and in a short drive to the north you’ll find a Michelin starred restaurant.
Sardara holds about 5000 people. You can get around easily. You can park the car almost anywhere, no problem.
Il pozzo sacro di Santa Anastasia: The Sacred Well of Saint Anastasia
A web of roads converging on the Chiesa di Santa Anastasia brings you to an interesting pocket of treasures in the north-central part of the village of Sardara.
It is here we find the Nuragic sacred well. Its blocks of basalt and limestone are quite roughly cut compared to the elegant stone-masonry of the well of Santa Cristina.
The spring-fed well would have had a higher water level, but the water has been used by the townspeople in the past. Sardara is a spa town; the water has been considered to have healing properties since antiquity.
The sacred well was known in recent times as “Funtana de is dolus” (that means “source of pain”) because the water, coming from a nearby spring and channeled from an opening at the base, was considered healthy and able to cure various diseases. — The archaeological area of Santa Anastasia: the village and well
Chiesa di Santa Anastasia
The Santa Anastasia church is one of the oldest churches of Sardinia. Its foundations are set upon the Nuragic settlement built around the wells. It’s quite interesting inside.
On the right of the nave, there is a baptismal font from 1585. On the altar, a statue of the Madonna and one of Christ. On the left, near the entrance, there are some lined stone blocks which belonged to the outer cover of a second sacred well, located to the right of the church and represent, symbolically, breasts and bull heads. — ibid
There is a sacred well inside the church, on the left wall.
Adjacent to the church is The Pilloni house, a 17th century residence that today serves as the ticket office to the archaeological site, bookstore and conference center.
The Archaeological Museum of Villa Abbas
On the grounds of a Nuragic village is the 20th century building housing the Archaeological Museum of Villa Abbas. I found it a very innovative museum for a small village. You’ll see the normal things, shelves with statues and tiny bronzes like the archer shown in the picture below excavated from a tomb just adjacent to the Museum.
But something strange is going on here. It’s the costume. This is a Sardinian warrior wearing Assyrian Babylonian clothes!
But what’s innovative? Below is a picture of a display showing the methods used to transform clay into tiles, with water sorting of the clay and particulates.
And—as Sardinia Tourism points out, “The museum Villa Abbas is not only to see but also to touch. In fact, the main findings exposed in each window are shown along in a parallel tactile path, in shelves positioned a few feet off the ground for blind, in which the faithful copies of pottery preserved in the windows are placed.”
And of course, there’s ample attractive ancient pottery as well.
Other Interesting Churches in Sardara
St. Gregory’s church built in 1300 with a mixture of Romanesque and gothic elements.
Dating back to the 15th century, the Assumption church is also in Romanesque-gothic style.
Sardara as part of an Itinerary
From Sardara you can take the SP4 south to visit the castle in San Gavino Monreale, then continue on the SP61 to Villacidro, known for a liquor that takes its name from the town, and for three waterfalls, especially Cascata Sa Spendula to the north west of the town, mentioned by Italian poet D’Annunzio when he visited the Villacidro in 1882.
Alternately, you could take the SS131 south from Sardara to Sanluri, where there is an interesting castle in the center of town. Then you can catch the SS197 and go north to visit Sardinia’s iconic Nuragic complex, Barumini, a 22 minute drive. Continue north for a few minutes and you’ll come to the town of Gesturi where you can visit Giari di Gesturi, a basaltic plateau with Sardinia’s wild horses. The top of the plateau is almost dead flat and webbed with trails for walkers who don’t want to extert too much effort in Sardinia’s hot summers.
Where to Stay and Eat
For those who wish to have a spa experience, the Sardegna Termale Hotel&SPA will do. It’s not the luxury experience you might find in German or Austrian spas, but rated well for the friendly staff.
The Antiche Terme di Sardara is another spa option located in a thermally active spot just out of town.
For a B&B experience, the highly rated B&B Casa Olla should do quite nicely.
North of Sardara is the village if Siddi, where the gourmet experience can be had at S’Appusentu ristorante which has had a Michelin star for 7 years. Like many high end rural restaurants, you can also rent rooms there.
Enjoy planning your Sardara (and vicinity) vacation!