Galtellì is a small village located in the central-eastern part of Sardinia, not far from Orosei, a prime holiday destination. Galtellì itself is famous both for its location, its spectacular views and for its history strongly linked to the Catholic religion. This isn’t exactly a popular tourist destination, but the few foreigners that decide to visit will find a place that has remained very much true to itself, home to a number of beautiful churches and surrounded by breathtaking nature.
If you are thinking of getting off the beaten path during your trip to Sardinia, you may want to check out Galtellì. You can read my guide to get more information about the village and find out what’s there to see.
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A Short History Of Galtellì, Sardinia
The medieval village of Galtellì is located on the Monte Tuttavista plateau. This area was inhabited by Romans, Carthaginians and Byzantines, as well as by Nuragic and pre-Nuragic civilizations.
In the Middle Ages, Galtellì belonged to the Giudicato of Gallura, an independent sovereign state that at the time dominated the entire northeastern part of Sardinia. From this period, Galtellì preserves the ruins of Pontes Castle, which witnessed several battles during the Sardinian-Catalan war.
Galtellì has strong ties to religious life. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the town saw the construction of several churches, such as the Santissimo Crocifisso, where the Cristo Ligneo statue is located. Next to this church you’ll immediately find that of Santa Croce and then two other churches in less than 100 meters.
The village is famous for its religious festivals, such as that of the Santissimo Crocifisso, which takes place in early May.
In addition to its churches, Galtellì remains an absolutely fascinating village for those who simply want to take a stroll through the small streets of the historic center. It is no coincidence that the Nobel Prize-winning writer Grazia Deledda set her novel Canne al Vento precisely in Galtellì.
What To See In Galtellì
The ruins of Pontes Castle stand on a hill located about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the center of Galtellì. In the Middle Ages, the Castle was mainly used to defend the territory, since its location served to observe the movements of enemy troops. The landscape and the ruins, create a striking combination that extends to the entire Cedrino Valley. Legend has it that the last Baron of the Castle still haunts its halls guarding the treasures hidden within.
Church of the Most Holy Crucifix
The Chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso (Church of the Most Holy Crucifix) is located in the historic center of Galtellì, and is where the famous Cristo Ligneo statue is found. Locals are very fond of the crucifix and cherish its legend. This has it that the statue was found in a wooden crate in 1394. During transport, the wagon stopped at the Church of the Santissimo Crocifisso and there was no way to move it, a sign that the crucifix had chosen Galtellì as its final destination.
There are several more churches in Galtellì other than the Chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso. Each church offers something interesting that makes it worth visiting. You should try to stop by the Santa Croce medieval church. Not far from it, you’ll find the 17th century churches of Beata Vergine Assunta and of St. Francis. Inside the cemetery, you’ll be able to see the former St. Peter’s Cathedral, home of a series of 13th century frescoes depicting scenes from the Old and the New Testament. Next to the former cathedral there is also a bell tower.
Dating back to the 18th century, Casa Marras is a beautifully kept building a bit outside of the center that houses the Ethnographic Museum of Galtellì. Spread across two floors, its rooms will take you to the customs, traditions and traditional economic activities of the village thanks to a number of period objects.
The second floor is actually still very much like it used to be, and you’ll be able to see the living quarters of the former owners, with the master bedroom and the kitchen. There also is a small exhibit of traditional costumes, including a beautiful wedding dress that was used in the early 20th century.
The museum is open every day but Monday, and you can check the opening hours on its Facebook page here. There is a small fee to visit.
Parco Letterario Deleddiano
In and around Galtellì, you can find many testimonies of Grazia Deledda work and life.
More than an actual park, the Parco Letterario Deleddiano is actually a trail that follows the footsteps of Grazia Deledda along the places that inspired her to write Nobel Prize winning novel Canne Al Vento. The trail was created in 1996 to honor the writer and to take visitors throughout the narrow alleys of Galtellì – Galte in her writings. Make sure to spot the beautiful “one floor house” of the Pintor Ladies, nowadays managed by their heirs.
Tuttavista Mount is an excellent place to explore if you enjoy hiking. Along the way to the top, which is at roughly 800 meters (2,624.6 feet) above sea level, you can admire the Preta Istampata, a massive rock with a naturally carved “window” from where you can enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding valley.
Located on the peak of Tuttavista you will also find a bronze statue of the Christ that is a reproduction of the Cristo Ligneo. It observes the entire valley and the village of Galtellì. The view that can be observed from the statue of Christ and the peak is really incredible, and spans all the way to the the Gulf of Orosei.
The surroundings of Galtellì
The area surrounding Galtellì is very rich in archeological sites. You will find several domus de janas – necropolis known in Sardinia as fairy houses; nuraghe – Su Gardu is just one of them; and other interesting sites.
Where to stay in Galtellì
Like many medieval villages, Galtellì has a small choice of places to spend the night, but the existing ones are indeed quite good. Should you want to spend the night in the village, you can opt to stay at Antico Borgo, a small hotel in the center of the village with rooms decorated in very classic but cozy style. Alternatively, you can stay at Castello Malicas, where rooms are on the small side but incredibly well curated.
If you prefer staying closer to the sea, you could base yourself in nearby Orosei, which is just a 10 minutes drive.
How to get to Galtellì
The nearest port of access to Galtellì is actually Olbia, which has both an airport (Olbia Costa Smeralda) and a harbor. Olbia is about 98 km (around 61 miles) from Galtellì. The easiest way to get there is definitely by car. You’ll have to follow State Road 131 Diramazione Centrale Nuorese southbound, turn left onto SP 38 and finally again left onto State Road 129. The drive should take you around one hour and 15 minutes.
The journey by bus is significantly longer. You’ll have to take bus 514 headed to Nuoro. The journey takes 4.5 hours.