The Sella del Diavolo – or Devil’s Saddle in English – is one of the most famous landmarks in Cagliari, a strip of land right outside of the city, separating Poetto beach from Calamosca Beach.
If you happen to visit Cagliari, you can’t miss a trip to Sella del Diavolo – no matter the season. The Sella del Diavolo is to Cagliari a bit like what Table Mountain is to Cape Town. It’s in the city, but not quite so. It’s close to the center, but a million miles away and much more closer to nature than many other places. It definitely is one of the locals’ favorite spots to escape from the city noise, and also a remarkable place under many aspects, filled with history and ancient ruins, ready to show you tons of breathtaking views the more you explore it.
Much like the rest of locals, I hike the Sella del Diavolo a few times per year. This time however, I am here to share everything I know about it, and to give you some tips to help you make the most of it.
Love to walk or hike? Read my posts The Best Walks In Cagliari and The Best Hikes In Sardinia.
A Short History Of The Sella Del Diavolo
The Sella del Diavolo was inhabited since very early times – its conformation, full of natural caves, was the ideal shelter for prehistoric men; and it was a strategic place for many populations during the centuries, given its position overlooking a good portion of the sea nearby Cagliari.
Recent excavations have brought to light a temple dedicated to the Punic Goddess Astartes; Punic and Roman water tanks; and even the remains of a monastery. Moreover, you can see the Spanish watchtower still standing and some WWII military buildings too. Humans have stepped on Sella del Diavolo’s land since the beginning of time, and they still haven’t stopped visiting!
The Legend Of The Sella Del Diavolo
You might be wondering what led such a beautiful place to get a name like “The Devil’s Saddle.” Legends tell us a story that happened during Biblical times and that tries to explain how the Sella del Diavolo came to carry this name.
The legends say that Lucifer, the ruler of Hell, upon seeing the beauty of Cagliari’s Gulf, decided to try and conquer the land, and was promptly stopped by God, who sent his angels to fight him. During this fight, which happened in the skies above the Gulf, Lucifer’s horse was hit and lost its saddle, which fell in the sea and petrified, creating the promontory we have now.
Another version of the myth claims that it was Lucifer who, falling from his horse, landed on the sea and the impact shaped the Devil’s Saddle.
How To Make The Most Of The Sella Del Diavolo
The peak of Sella del Diavolo can be accessed on a hike, and there are two trails to get there.
Follow the main hiking trail
The main hike to the Devil’s Saddle is a simple hiking route, ideal for amateurs and that won’t require much effort. You can get to the top in about 30 to 45 minutes and then linger around the area. It will take you the same amount of time to head down.
You will still need hiking shoes or good walking shoes (don’t hike in flip flops!) but it is not a strenuous hike. You can easily access the beginning of the trail behind Calamosca Beach – the opposite side is a military area, restricted to civilians.
The trail is marked by green dots you will find marked along the rocks; the low Mediterranean shrub will allow you to follow the trails without tripping, hurting yourself, or getting lost, and reach the peak unscathed and with ease.
Throughout the hike you will find archeological remains, from Punic and Roman ruins to more recent ones including a Spanish watchtower from the 13th century. You will also get some impressive views, and once you are on top of the Sella del Diavolo you will have a broad vision of Cagliari’s Poetto Beach and area, all the way to Molentargius Nature Reserve.
Take the alternative hiking trail
The alternative trail to the Devil’s Saddle starts behind Cagliari’s Marina Piccola tourist harbor in a spot that is a bit more difficult to find. You will have to go past the main parking lot and towards the harbor and turn to your right to follow a small road that can’t be accessed by cars (there is a bar stopping them) and follow that.
This trail is a bit harder to follow and a bit more challenging, but still well marked. You will go through the vegetation and a large part of it is in the shade, but the views will be incredible throughout. The first landmark you will reach is the 13th century Spanish Watchtower – a perfect photo spot!
In the case of this hike, hiking shoes are a must as the trail can be slippery and quite sandy in bits.
Whichever trail you decide to follow, be sure to bring your camera, because this is a prime photo spot! From the palette of blue to the smallest details, Sella del Diavolo will have a special place on your camera roll, in your heart, and likely in your Instagram!
Join a kayaking expedition
One of the most fun ways of appreciating the beauty of the Devil’s Saddle is during a kayaking expedition. All tours depart from Poetto Beach, where kayal rental is available, and following the guide you will head under and behind the Devil’s Saddle to admire it in all its might. You will reach some beautiful swimming spots – make sure to bring your snorkeling gear and your gopro as you will want to take photos!
For information about kayaking expeditions of the Sella del Diavolo, click here.
Cagliari’s Sella del Diavolo separates two beautiful beaches, Poetto and Calamosca. Of course, if you visit in the summer months these are excellent places for a relaxing and fun day at the beach; but there is plenty to do even during the rest of the year. You don’t need a towel and an umbrella to have fun near the Sella del Diavolo!
Many families choose Poetto beach to have or to have a picnic or a day out of town. If you want to eat ice cream or drink coffee you will find plenty of nice kiosks – many also serve delicious food. Many come here to do some sports, especially running, or to let their dogs roam free and play with them.
Calamosca is a stunning beach, with white sand and turquoise waters, especially loved and crowded during the summer, but nothing stops you from having a nice walk there in other seasons. It’s just some minutes away from Cagliari and, since it’s the main access point to the trail to the Sella del Diavolo, more or less a mandatory stop for your excursion.
Make sure to read my posts A Guide To Poetto Beach and The Best Beaches In Cagliari.
Molentargius Nature Reserve
If you enjoy birdwatching, want to spot the famous pink flamingoes that live in Cagliari, or simply feel like a walk in nature without having to go too far from the city, make sure to head to Molentargius Nature Reserve. It’s easily accessible from Poetto Beach and various other spots in town and within moments you won’t even feel like you are in the city at all!
To book your guided tour of Molentargius, click here or here.
Check out my post A Guide To Molentargius Nature Reserve.
How to get to the Devil’s Saddle
The Sella del Diavolo is very close to Cagliari and you can easily get there by bus. The urban company CTM operates three lines to Poetto and Sella del Diavolo: lines 5 and 11 during weekdays, line 5/11 on Sundays.
If you have your own car, follow the directions to Calamosca Beach and park your car there. The trail starts almost right behind the beach.
Guided tours of the Devil’s Saddle
You really don’t need a guide to hike the main trail of the Devil’s Saddle, but in all fairness a guide will certainly add to the experience highlighting its history, legends, sights and much more.