San Giovanni di Sinis is a hamlet of Cabras, located in the Sinis peninsula (province of Oristano). Surrounded by lots of natural beauties, it is one of the most important seaside resorts in the Gulf of Oristano. Every summer, locals and tourists alike choose it to spend their vacations.
But there’s more than beaches in San Giovanni di Sinis! This village had an important role in the long history of the Sinis peninsula, as the many archeological sites, architectural treasures, and old traditions prove. For instance, San Giovanni di Sinis is located along the road that links Cabras to the magnificent archeological site of Tharros, and it is near the Cabras Marsh.
If you decide to visit the Sinis peninsula, I recommend you to add San Giovanni di Sinis to your itinerary. Its beach is the perfect place to relax after visiting the many interesting sites in the area, and if you want to keep discovering the history of this place, San Giovanni offers some ancient treasures.
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The History Of San Giovanni Di Sinis
San Giovanni di Sinis is a seaside hamlet of the town of Cabras. Located between the archeological site of Tharros and the beautiful Capo San Marco, it was originally a fishing village. Its past is still visible through the few remaining small wood and bulrush huts, which are near the archeological sites. There used to be many more – my mom used to vacation in the area and remembers the entire waterfront lined with these huts. But time and the elements did not have mercy and now only very few remain and you’ll have to look for them!
Only in more recent times, this nice village has become popular summer holiday destination, thanks to its beautiful beach, and to the famous rural church, one of its most important sights.
The Best Places To Visit In San Giovanni Di Sinis
The entire area is full of interesting places to visit. There are three main spots you need to check out while in San Giovanni di Sinis; then, the rest of the sites are located near it, and they’re quite easy to reach by car.
San Giovanni Church
The main attraction in San Giovanni di Sinis is the Church of San Giovanni, built during the 6th century. It is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, and it was built on the remains of an ancient necropolis. This was originally used by the Phoenician civilization, but later it became a Christian necropolis.
The church was renovated and enlarged between the 9th and the 10th century. It has the characteristics of an early medieval church, which makes it one of the most ancient churches in Sardinia. The building was created using sandstone blocks, some of them probably taken from the ancient walls of Tharros.
Inside the church, there are three aisles separated by three arches, and a small dome. Originally its plan was different, made by a single central aisle. The other two were added during the modifications in the 9th and 10th centuries.
Check out my post The Most Beautiful Churches In Sardinia.
Scattered along the waterfront of San Giovanni di Sinis there are the remains of a large Punic and Roman necropolis. Some bits are literally located between present day buildings, so keep your eyes out for them. From the church, walk northbound along the waterfront and you should be able to spot them. The main site is fenced, but there are some bits closer to the beach which can be approached more closely.
San Giovanni di Sinis Beach
There is a marvelous 2 km beach in San Giovanni di Sinis. Its crystal waters and fine sand are the reason why lots of tourists come visit the place. Its waters are home for a variety of marine life, and this peculiarity makes this beach the perfect place for those who love scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing.
Moreover, given its position, the area is often windy, and this creates the perfect conditions for people who love wind and kite surfing. It is also the perfect place to go with your family, even if you travel with your pets, which are allowed in the southernmost part of the beach.
Lined along the beach there are many bars and restaurants where you can have a drink, eat, or simply shelter from the sun in the hottest hours. My favorite place is Da Marina: it is the best one in the entire beach.
This beach has a characteristic landscape, created by the alternation of dunes and limestone rocks. On the top, the tower of San Giovanni allows to enjoy on one side the view of the Gulf of Oristano, and on the other side the beautiful view of the Sardinian Sea – not to mention, you can see the ruins of Tharros!
Make sure to read my post The Best Dog Friendly Beaches In Sardinia.
San Giovanni Tower
50 meters above sea level, in the southern part of the beach, you will find the already mentioned Tower of San Giovanni. It was built between the 16th and the 17th century, by order of the Spanish king Philip II and with the purpose of protecting local inhabitants from the several pirates’ incursions that were taking place at the time. The tower was in fact heavily armed, and soldiers were always present.
Apparently, the tower was built upon the remains of an old nuraghe, with rocks that came from the city of Tharros. Nowadays you can visit the tower and access its terrace. The views from there are absolutely breathtaking!
Tharros is one of the most famous archeological sites in Sardinia. It is the most important evidence of the Phoenician civilization in Sardinia, and also important evidence of the Roman occupation.
The city was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, and it was one of the most important on the island. Two different necropolises are what we have left of that historical period, as well as the Tophet, which was an important sanctuary for that culture.
Tharros was subsequently conquered by the Roman army after the Third Punic War. They left us a temple dedicate to different deities, the Tempio Tetrastilo, and also the more famous baths, which are still in good conservation shape.
The city was still inhabited during the early Christian age. Proof of that is the presence of a baptistery. Finally, Tharros was abandoned approximately in 1050 BC, probably because of pirates’ incursions.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Visiting Tharros.
Portale di Don Peppi
Scattered around the Sinis Peninsula are some examples of traditional local architecture. Some of these are the many gates belonging to agricultural estates. One of these is the “Portale di Don Peppi”, located in Cabras. Its architecture is simple, characterized by an arch with a frame. The only peculiar elements are the basalt blocks at the bottom of the arch. Their purpose was to give stability to the structure. This place was home of a secular olive grove and of a manor house.
Portale Donna Annetta
This arch is located in the northern area of Cabras. It was entirely built in sandstone, and it was restored in the 1990s. The main arch is accompanied by two columns, which are built on decorated plinths. Unfortunately, the original columns were stolen, so the ones you will see are only replacements.
How To Get To San Giovanni Di Sinis
San Giovanni di Sinis is a hamlet of Cabras. The easiest way to get there is therefore to reach the main town first.
From Cabras it only takes 10 minutes by car to get to San Giovanni di Sinis. You need to take SP1 towards Via Giuseppe Mazzini, then take SP6 and follow the road.
Oristano is only 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from this beautiful village. From there, you need to take SP93 and then reach SP1. After a short while, you need to enter SP6, and in no time you’ll reach San Giovanni di Sinis.
Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Fondazione Mont’e Prama and wish to thank them for inviting me to attend the Isola dei Giganti Festival and to explore the gorgeous Sinis Peninsula. Needless to say, the views expressed in this post are mine.