Cuglieri is an ancient village in the province of Oristano. Completely off the beaten path, should you decide to visit the area, you will be astonished by its beauty and its traditions.
The village rises in the ancient volcanic mount of Montiferru, and it is surrounded by a breathtaking landscape, merging together a stunning coast with lush montains. Cuglieri is home to some of the most peculiar beaches in Sardinia, as well as one of the very few waterfalls that directly fall into the sea in the Mediterraean.
It’s also home to some prenuragic Domus de Janas, to the spectacular Casteddu Ezzu, and much more. In other words, Cuglieri has something for everyone and while not many travelers venture there, I promise it won’t disappoint you.
Curious to find out more? Continue reading to discover its history and best attractions, and for tips for visiting.
The History Of Cuglieri
Cuglieri dates back to the Neolithic Age, and the several Domus de Janas in the area also dates back to this period. The first nuraghe were built from approximately from 1600 BC, and now we know that in the area there are more or less 60 of them.
Given its position, near to clean waters and to the sea, this area was a good place where to live. Phoenicians to the Romans both settled here. The Phoenicians founded the town of Cornus, which initially was a colony and then became an important trade center.
When the Romans arrived Cornus was the center of the Sardinian and Punic resistance against them, that resulted in the failed Rebellion of Hampsicora in 215 BC. Eventually, the Romans conquered the island, and Cornus became a Roman village.
Later on, the people that lived in the area began to move, and they founded the town of Gurulis Nova, which is now Cuglieri. During the era of the Sardinian Judicates, Cuglieri was part of the powerful Judicate of Torres. Approximately in the 12th century, the Castle of Montiferro, known now as Casteddu Ezzu, was built with the purpose of defending the judicate from the nearby Judicate of Arborea.
In the early 20th century, Cuglieri was a thriving village, and its economy was based on farming and agriculture, and also on the production of dairy products and excellent quality olive oil.
Now that you know how Cuglieri came about, let’s check out its main attractions and things to do.
What To See And Do In Cuglieri, Sardinia
Capo Nieddu waterfall
This beautiful waterfall offers a rare, breathtaking scenery. In the area of Montiferru, the waters of the river Salighes fall directly in to the clear waters of the Mediterranean, creating a unique scene.
The best way to see the entire waterfall is to watch it from the sea, so that you can enjoy the view of the water falling from the top of the cliff and reaching the sea. Alternatively, you can go there on a hike that is fairly short and easy.
Keep in mind this is not a permanent waterfall – the best time to see it are the winter and spring months.
Make sure to read my post The Most Scenic Waterfalls In Sardinia.
S’Archittu is a truly magical place. This stunning arch was created by the winds and the rains that, over the centuries, eroded the limestone rock. Now, thanks to these atmospheric phenomena, when you arrive to S’Archittu – the small arch, in Sardinian – you will enjoy the view of a natural arch above the sea.
In the summer, people like to dive from the arch directly into the water, or to kayak right under it to admire it in all its glory.
Church of Santa Maria della Neve
This is the most important church in Cuglieri and it was the first minor basilica in Sardinia. It rises on the top of Bardosu hill, and it overlooks the entire town. Apparently, there is a legend about this church, according to which it had to be built in another part of the town, but the oxen that were transporting the statue of the Virgin Mary kept going all the way to hill where it is located, and people took this as a sign.
Check out my post The Prettiest Churches In Sardinia.
This castle has a long, complicated history, almost a legend, in which politics, love and gossips are all intertwined.
It was approximately built in the 12th century to protect the Judicate of Torres from the Judicate of Arborea. However, when the Aragonese arrived from the Iberian Peninsula, it lost its defensive purpose and it was given to the Spanish Zatrilla family.
It is said that Francesca Zatrilla, countess of Cuglieri, used the castle as a shelter, because she and her lover were accused of murdering her husband, and she was also accused of conspiracy against the viceroy Camassa.
Legend has it that when she discovered that several knights were sent to take her, she left the castle and was able to leave the island. The castle was then given to an aristocrat from Cagliari, but a few years later it was permanently abandoned.
Nowadays, there are only some remains of the original castle. If you go there (it’s a bit of a hike, but worth it), you will see the remains of the two towers, and of the dungeons.
Head over to my post The Most Mysterious Castles In Sardinia.
Cornus is an ancient Phoenician town. Nowadays it is a fantastic archeological site – and one of the lesser visited on the island – that I definitely recommend seeing if you go to Cuglieri. You can see the remains of the ancient town, and the archeologist have found the remains of different churches dating back to different times in history.
Check out my post The Best Archeological Sites In Sardinia.
Cuglieri is home to a couple of very good festivals.
The Settimana Santa – holy week – takes place in March or April, depending when Easter comes. During the whole week, starting from Thursday, there are several processions and religious representations.
Santa Maria della Neve celebrates the saint protector of the town. It takes place from the 4th to the 7th of august, and there are both religious and social events. During these days several concerts take place, then fireworks that are visible from the entire town. On the last day, the statue of the Virgin is taken through the town on a cart pulled by oxen, in an important procession that lasts until the last mass that takes place in the evening.
How to get to Cuglieri
Cuglieri is located in the province of Oristano, along the western coast the island. Given its position (it’s a bit isolated), I would recommend to go by car, because the area is not well connected by public transportation to the main airports and harbors – it would take several changes to get there and it would take you a long time.
The nearest airport is Alghero. From there, you have to take SP Alghero Bosa 105 – which is actually one of the most scenic roads in Sardinia. After a short while this becomes SP49, then you need to take SS292 and you will arrive in Cuglieri. This journey will take approximately 90 minutes. There are alternative ways of getting from Alghero to Cuglieri, but this is the shortest one and the views along the way are stunning.
If you want to take the ferry to Sardinia, the nearest harbor is Porto Torres. From there, you need to take State Road E25 and turn SS129bis towards Bosa Macomer, and finally reach SS292. It will take you about 90 minutes.
Where to stay
Although small, Cuglieri offers several good accommodation options. I have selected the most suitable ones.
You will find this beautiful agriturismo, which is fully accessible to disabled travelers, 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) from Cuglieri, located halfway between the mountains and the sea. You really need a car if you opt to stay there, but the bonus point is that in less than 10 minutes you could reach the beautiful S’Archittu or the famous Capo Nieddu waterfalls.
Besides its fantastic position, this place is perfect if you want to have some quiet time in the midst of nature. Its large garden is the right place to relax, and if you travel with children, they can have fun in a dedicated playground.
Since this is an agriturismo, you’ll have the option to eat there and the food is really good! Count on lots of traditional local dishes.
Il Sogno – House Gallery
This house is located few hundreds meter from the center of Cuglieri. It has two bedrooms, a recently renovated bathroom, a kitchen, and a balcony overlooking the garden. You will also find free private parking on site.
It’s a perfect place to stay you travel with your family, because it has enough space to comfortably fit four guests, and it has all the privacy you could need. It’s also pet friendly!
Il Girasole House
This house can accommodate five people, and is perfect for a family. It has three bedrooms, one bathroom equipped with everything you can need, a kitchen and a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea. You’ll find it less than 1 km (0.6 miles) from the center of the town, so that you can stay in a quiet area, while at the same time easily reach the center.
In the area you will find restaurants and bars. This house does not offer a private parking. However, you will find a free public parking only few meters from the house.