One of the best things about Sardinia is its wild and unspoiled nature waiting to be discovered just around the corner. In our case it was about two hours drive south from our city Nuoro last Sunday. Piero & I took a picturesque and winding road through the heart of Barbagia and Genargentu Mountains and arrived in the spectacular Giara di Gesturi plateau where unbroken wild Sardinian horses graze freely. For both of us it was a memorable and amusing adventure!
The Giara di Gesturi, Sardinian: Sa Jara Manna, is a high and steep-sided basaltic plateau which extends for about 42 km2 in the comuni of Gesturi, Tuili and Setzu. The average height of the plateau is approximately 550m and it is accessible in only a few places, known as scalas.
The wild horses that live in the Giara are not native species. They were probably imported in Sardinia by the Phoenicians in the 9th-8th centuries B.C. The Sardinian wild horses lived in different areas of the island until the Middle Ages, but nowadays they only live in the Giara plateau, free and undisturbed. They live in perfect harmony with the environment and their number changes from 450 to 600, in accordance with the more or less rainy years and the consequent abundance of pasture.
Still today a group of half domestic pigs is not an unusual meeting for the visitors of the park.
As one of a testimony to the human presence on the plateau, remain the pinnettas, similar to typical huts from nuragic period, used by shepherds as a shelter up to 20 years ago.
You can also look for the first signs of spring like wild flowers including Sardinian crocuses.
From Nuoro: S 389 to Mamoiada and S 389D to Fonni, next take direction to Desulo and Aritzo, then S 295 to Laconi, Nurallao, Nuragus and finally Gesturi. At Gesturi follow the signs for Altopiano della Giara.
From Cagliari: S 131 to Sassari, at Villasanta take a turn to Barumini and next S 197 to Gesturi. At Gesturi follow signs for Altopiano della Giara.
And what are your experiences with going into the wild?