This city of just over 60,000 is located in the Gallura region of Sardinia’s northeast, and although it’s an industrial centre, at the same time Olbia maintains a great history linked to archaeology and numerous discoveries that have been made over time. And its popularity is also due to being a gateway to some delicious nearby beaches with white sands and crystalline waters.
One of Olbia’s oldest and most iconic sights, right in the historic centre, is the Romanesque granite Basilica of San Simplicio, built between the 11th and 12th centuries. During a 17th-century renovation a necrópolis was discovered underneath including 450 Roman tombs and other remnants dating back to ancient Phoenician times.
Another of the important local churches is that of San Paolo, built in the 18th century over the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Hercules. It’s especially known for the dome of its belltower, completely covered in yellow, orange, pink, green, and blue tiles. And inside you’ll find several notable Works by a painter called Alberto Sanna, such as The Resurrection, The Angelic Musicians, The Way of the Cross, and The Sacraments.
There are landmarks that go way further back, as well, such as archaeological remains including walls dating back to the city’s founding by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BCE and the Olbia Aqueduct from the Roman period starting in the 3rd century BCE, which channeled the waters flowing down from Mount Capu Abas. There’s also a fine archaeological museum which presents and explains it all.
Also in the historical vein, one of the most interesting excursions near the city is to the hilltop ruins of the 13th-century Pedres Castle, which also provides sweeping views out over the sea and surrounding landscape. And just below here you’ll also get to visit a possibly even more fascinating site from the mists of prehistory, as far back as 1800 BCE, known as the Giants’ Tomb of Su Mont’e s’Abe. Truly amazing!
These are just some of the surprises in store when you book a flight to Olbia – so keep it in mind for a summer holiday!
Photos | 4FR ; Orietta Gaspari ; Travel Wild