Fordongianus is a small town located in the central part of Sardinia, precisely in the province of Oristano. Much lesser visited compared to coastal destinations, it’s actually a very pleasant place to explore even if you decide to visit Sardinia in winter!
The town is home to a few ruins dating back to the Roman times; there are a few beautiful churches, and if you want to add a relaxing stop to your itinerary, Fordongianus will welcome you with its thermal baths and its pleasant atmosphere.
To learn more about this interesting place, continue reading my guide, where you will find information on the history of the town and its main attractions.
Make sure to also read my post The Nicest Sardinia Hidden Gems.
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The History Of Fordongianus
Founded by the Romans under the name Forum Traiani in the late Republic period, Fordongianus was already famous back then for its thermal baths that exploited a natural source of healing water, known as Aquae Hypsitanae.
Under the emperor Trajan, Forum Traiani became a point of contact and exchange between the communities of the Gulf of Oristano and those of the hinterland of the island.
In the Middle Ages, Fordongianus was part of the Giudicato of Arborea, and then passed to the Aragonese rule during the Spanish conquest of Sardinia. The town then became a feud until the abolition of the feudal system in 1839.
What To See In Fordongianus
Fordongianus is a town with less than a thousand inhabitants, characterized by a beautiful surrounding landscape, thermal springs, archaeological sites and historical buildings. Let’see which attractions you can’t miss once you arrive in Fordongianus.
It is known that the Romans had a particular love for thermal baths and believed in the benefits of thermal water. This, in fact, led to the foundation of Fordongianus and the construction of the baths in the first century A.D.
The archaeological area of the Terme Romane is divided into two establishments: one with a rectangular pool and another with a changing room.
The floor featured mosaics, while the ceiling was made of blue glass paste. The baths took water from the spring through a system of wells and cisterns. The statues of Bes, an Egyptian deity of wealth and fortune, as well as the presence of drawings of nymphs on the edges of the pools, are testimony of the importance of the baths since the Roman times.
You should also read my post A Guide To Fordongianus Terme Romane, Sardinia.
In addition to the Roman baths, Fordongianus is also home to the remains of a roman amphitheater. Located in a valley outside the town center (it’s actually mere steps from Il Naviglio restaurant, on the way out of town), the amphitheater is visible from the road, and hasn’t been fully excavated yet.
The amphitheater respects the architectural techniques of the Romans for the construction of these buildings, characterized by large spaces for gladiator fights and different kinds of spectacles, often featuring wild animals.
Thanks to excavations in 1996 and 2008, it was discovered that the amphitheater was enlarged to accommodate more and more spectators, in order to face the population growth of Forum Traiani.
Research shows that at its peak it could hold up to 3000 spectators – the only larger Roman Amphitheater in Sardinia is that of Cagliari.
Built between the 15th and 16th centuries, the Casa Aragonese presents the union of elements typical of the central area of Sardinia and those of the Aragonese architecture found elsewhere in the Aragon region of Spain.
On the outside, you can immediately notice the main feature: the front porch facing the courtyard. The red trachyte construction features columns resting on a long stone seat.
On the inside, the Aragonese house is divided into two units, for a total of thirteen rooms. Among the rooms, you’ll find the dining-living room with a large fireplace, the bedroom and the kitchen.
Everything is adorned with cupboards and chairs featuring religious emblems, animals, plants and geometric themes.
The rear part, accessible through the portico, has a garden with a vegetable garden, a store room and a stable.
Chiesa di San Lussorio
An ancient building dating back to the 7th century, the Chiesa di San Lussorio is located on a hill, surrounded by ‘muristenes’, the dwellings prepared to accommodate pilgrims.
The church was built using trachyte stone blocks and has undergone several alterations, such as one carried out in the 13th century due to a structural collapse.
Another intervention, carried out in the 15th century, led to the construction of a portal in Catalan-Gothic style. The church is located about two kilometers (1.2 miles) from Fordongianus and is dedicated to the martyr Lussorio, executed for converting to Christianity.
Bagni Termali (Thermal Baths)
Near the Antiche Terme Romane of Fordongianus you can find the modern thermal baths complex, built in 19th century, on the banks of the Tirso river.
The water has various therapeutic properties, especially in the fields of rheumatology, orthopaedics and dermatology. The temperature of the three baths ranges from 41 to 43°C (106 and 109°F), and they are built directly on the source of the river, so they work in a completely natural way.
The thermal baths are open daily from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 3:00 to 5:30 pm, and are a perfect place to have a nice relaxing time.
It is possible to enjoy the thermal baths for half an hour, although it is advisable not to stay in the water for more than ten minutes, given the high temperature. The facility also has cold shower stalls and toilets.
You will have to book your visit in advance. For more information, visit the official website.
Other interesting places to see
Once in Fordongianus, you can also visit the Chiesa di Santi Pietro e Archelao, which was built in various phases. There are testimonies of a paleo-Christian phase, a medieval phase an construction was also carried out during the time of the Judicates in Sardinia.
The Aragonese also left their mark on this church.
Near the thermal baths you can admire what remains of an ancient Roman road and a Roman Bridge, while if you want to hunt for nuraghi and other archaeological sites, don’t miss the ruins of Casteddu Ecciu, the monolith of Crastu Ladu and the underground tomb of Sa Domu e Sa Senora.
How to get to Fordongianus
Oristano is a great base to explore the center of Sardinia and the gorgeous Sinis Peninsula.
You can easily get to Fordongianus from Oristano by car, taking SS388 of Tirso and Mandrolisai. Drive along it until you reach a roundabout, then continue straight on SP35. Then, at the second roundabout, turn left and take the SP33 to Fordongianus. It should take you around 30 minutes.
If you want to reach Fordongianus by bus, you can take line 537 Tonara – Sorgono – Samugheo – Oristano. In this case, the trip will take you around 45 minutes.
Make sure to also read my post A Guide To The Sinis Peninsula, Sardinia.
If you have a car, you can also visit Fordongianus on day trips from Cagliari. In this case, you’ll have to follow SS131 northbound all the way to Marrubiu, and from there take SP68 and then SP33 to Fordongianus.
Head over to my post A Guide To Renting A Car In Cagliari.
Where to eat in Fordongianus
The choice of places to eat in Fordongianus is actually quite limited, but the few available place are actually good.
If you want to stop and eat in Fordongianus, I can recommend the restaurant-pizzeria Il Naviglio, specializing in Italian and Sardinian cuisine. Don’t judge it by its look: it’s quite rustic and basic.
But the staff is really friendly, and the food is actually really good. Their specialty is the local lorighittas pasta. When we visited, we tried it with the traditional pork meat sauce, and with the (seasonal) artichokes.
Alternatively, you can try the restaurant Sa Montigu and the tavern Sa Lussorio, much appreciated for the refinement of its dishes.