There’s a little bit of England in the heart of Sardinia. In the small town of Bolotana, not far from Nuoro, you can find Villa Piercy, a charming 19th-century mansion. Surrounded by the forest of Badde Salighes, Villa Piercy is now an important tourist destination, not only for the house which is one of a kind in Sardinia, but also for its large beautiful garden, which is renowned for its varied flora.
If you happen to be in this area, or you’re planning to visit central Sardinia, visiting Villa Piercy is certainly a must. In fact, you should especially consider going if you are planning a trip to Sardinia in the fall, so as to see foliage, or even in the winter, when the forest gives it an even more special aura.
Make sure to read my post The Best Hidden Gems In Sardinia.
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The History Of Villa Piercy
You may be wondering why an English mansion was built in the center of Sardinia.
Villa Piercy takes its name from the Welsh engineer Benjamin Piercy. He arrived in Sardinia in the second half of the 19th century, in order to design a railway line that could connect the two main cities of the island, as a result of an agreement with an English-Italian society.
It’s interesting to point out that the railway is still working nowadays, and it goes from Cagliari to Porto Torres, with a ramification that reaches Olbia.
Going back to Piercy, during the construction, approximately in the 80’s of 19th century, he received a large portion of land as a compensation for his work, and he decided to invest some money and to buy the estate of Badde Salighes, in which he created what then was the biggest agricultural company in Sardinia. His land was almost four acres, going from the peaks of the Marghine region and including and the highland plateau of Campeda.
The company he built dealt with agriculture and farming. For instance, in the area of Padru Mannu, Piercy built a big cheese factory, which was an example of technological innovation. After the creation of the factory, especially when Piercy’s son took charge of it, Padru Mannu became a small town. But after Piercy Junior died the land which belonged to his family was expropriated and nowadays what remains of the village is nothing but abandoned houses.
At the center of this land, Benjamin Piercy decided to build a mansion. However, he wasn’t able to complete the construction due to his premature death in 1888. In fact, his son was the one who finished what Piercy started and, given the majesty of the building, decided to name it after his family name.
It is said that Villa Piercy was a gathering place for the English and Italian high society, and also that the future Italian king Umberto di Savoia was often times present to those gatherings.
Villa Piercy is a magnificent mansion built in an English colonial style. It has a squared structure, with a small tower in each corner, and it was – and still is – all painted in white. The mansion was built on three floors. The lower floor was accessible through an independent entrance, or through the first floor. When it was Piercy’s family house, the ground floor was where the kitchen and the housemaids rooms were located.
The first floor was where the living room, the dining area and the studio were located. Finally, the family bedrooms and the bathroom were located on the second floor.
Villa Piercy was completely restored recently, and visitors can now admire the beautiful mansion, where they can see many beautiful paintings, as well as the marvelous garden that surrounds it.
The Garden of Villa Piercy is well known for the varied vegetation that characterizes it. In the garden you will be able to observe indigenous plants, such as olm oaks, chestnut trees, and hollies, but also exotic plants that Benjamin Piercy wanted in his home. For example, he planted Himalayan cedars, boxwoods, and Spanish firs. Since 2017, the garden is part of the “Historical Sardinian Gardens”, together with 7 more gardens in different parts of the island and which include the Botanical Gardens of Cagliari and Aymerich Park in Laconi.
Villa Piercy is particularly appreciated during the winter months. In fact, in the coldest months of the year everything is covered in candid white snow, and this creates an other-worldly scenery. However, each season creates a unique and breathtaking setting that is worth seeing. In the fall, leaves take on a color ranging from brown to red, and when they fall to the ground, the white building stands out amidst the trees.
During spring and summer, everything becomes colorful, thanks to the many trees and flowers, and you can take shelter in the shade of the trees when the Sardinian sun becomes too hot. Because of this, there is no perfect season to go visit this magical place, as in each season the scenery is unique in its own way.
How To Visit Villa Piercy
Villa Piercy opening hours and tickets
The mansion is opened to visitors every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can book a guided tour by sending an email to [email protected] or through their Facebook page.
Guided tours are available and cost €10 for adults and €7 for children between 7 and 12 years old.
How to get there
Villa Piercy is in the central part of the island, a bit far from the main airports and ports and practically impossible to reach on public transporation. However, if you travel by car, it is less than two hours from all of the main cities.
The closest town, at just 51 km (31.7 miles= is Nuoro, which is itself in the central part of the island. The city doesn’t have an airport, but it is a perfect starting point to explore the mountainous area of Sardinia. From Nuoro, you have to take State Road (SS) 131 DCN towards Cagliari, then SS 129 towards Sassari and, finally, you have to enter Provincial Road (SP) SP17 and reach Badde Salighes. It will take you approximately 40 minutes.
Alghero is about 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) from Villa Piercy. To arrive there, you have to take SS 131 towards Cagliari and then the SS131 bis towards Nuoro, and, finally, you have to take SP17 and reach Badde Salighes. It will take you more or less one hour.
Olbia is a bit further from Villa Piercy, about 134 kilometers (83.2 miles), which means about 1 hour and 20 minutes drive. From Olbia you have to take E80 towards Monti, then enter SS 131 bis towards Nuoro and finally, to reach Badde Salighes, you have to take SP17.
If your starting point is Cagliari, you will be around 167 kilometers (103.7 miles) away, around 1 hour and 30 minutes by car – it is still perfectly doable as a day trip from Cagliari. To reach Badde Salighes you need to take E25 and follow the road until you find SP17, where you need to turn towards Badde Salighes.