The main highway on Sardinia, the Strada Statale 131 Carlo Felice runs from south to north and connects Cagliari, the capital of the region, with Sassari, the main city in the north. Just passed Oristano it runs along the valley of the Tirso, through the plains of the Campidano first and then climbing to the highland plateau of Abbasanta. The road continues to climb higher until it reaches Macomer on the highland plateau of Campeda. The railroad, single track, runs up to this point parallel to the highway but then starts winding up the sides of the slopes in large curves to reach Macomer at the highest point.
The second route that is described in this article starts in Oristano and will take you over the highway ss131 to Abbasanta, stopping by two of the most important prehistorical sites of Sardinia; the sanctuary of Santa Cristina and the complex Nuraghe Losa. Then the itinerary turns to the valley of the Tirso, where on it's banks lies the site of Forum Traiani (Fordongianus) and then along the other side of the Tirso back to Santa Giusta, the former Phoenician-Punic settlement of Othoca. There is little left of an archeological site at Santa Giusta, but the church still contains some treasures worthwhile seeing. The archeological sites are all maintained by cooperations of volunteers working with the townships of Paulilatino, Abbasanta and Fordongianus in preserving the site and they organise also guided tours.
The first part of this itinerary begins in Oristano and following the ss131 brings you to the junction of the archeological site of Santa Cristina. The site lies next to the highway and there is a large parkingspace available. The sacred well is the highlight of the site, but the other structures are as much interesting. There is a small nuragic village with a single towered nuraghe and the christian church with surrounding cumbessias (small houses used during religious festivities). A visit to see all of the site will take an hour and a half.
The second part of this itinerary goes to the site of the multitowered Nuraghe Losa which is not very far from Santa Cristina. The nuraghe site just off the highway next to the junction of the ss131 with the highway to Nuoro. A visit to the nuraghe and the small museum there will take an hour. On the top of the nuraghe there is a beautiful panorama of the surrounding countryside, the plains of Abbasanta, and walking around the structure itself will give an idea of it's awesome dimensions and massiveness.
The third part of the itinerary follows the road to the valley of the river Tirso and the town of Fordongianus. Fordongianus, the name derives from the latin Forum Traiani, was an important roman town that controlled the roads of access to the inlands and the north-south roads. On the banks of the river the baths are located. The archaeological site itself is not very large and a visit will take an hour, but because it lies near the river it is a very shaded place which makes a stay pleasant enough.
In the town of Fordongianus stands the Casa Aragonese. This house was built in the sixteenth century and has not changed with it's original fireplaces and courtyard.
The fourth part of the itinerary goes back to Oristano to the small town of Santa Giusta. It passes through the hillside near Fordongianus and then along the ricefields of the valley of the Tirso. Just before Santa Giusta the itinerary follows the ss131 again until you reach the junction for Santa Giusta and Arborea. At the entrance of the town lies the old roman bridge. Santa Giusta was called Othoca in ancient times, which traces it's origins back to phoenician-punic times.
Of the ancient town there remains almost nothing to be seen, many new houses have been built since then, but if you visit the church of Santa Giusta you will see in it's interior many different columns that were reused from roman villa's and roman public buildings.
For the last part of the itinerary to return to Oristano is just a short ride. On Oristano, and what it offers see the description of the first itinerary.
Circumstances in reality can be different due to specific situations or changes on the roads. See also the disclaimer
Santa Giusta (OR)
Santa Giusta is a fisherman's village on the shore of the lagoon. In the Bronze Age there was a nuraghe of which the remains have been found under the church of Santa Giusta. In punic-roman times it was an important town called Othoca, testified by important archaeological finds. Just outside the village the remains of a roman bridge can be seen. During the Middle Ages, between 1135 and 1145, the basilica of Santa Giusta was built with a particularity namely that several roman columns have been reused. Furthermore every year a regatta is held in the lagoon with Is Fassois, small reed boats typical of the wetlands.
Nuraghe Losa is an impressive complex nuraghe on the highland plateau of Abbasanta. The structure consists of a central tower and bastions with three additional towers forming a rounded triangle. The nuraghe is situated in a strategic position along the ancient road from the Bay of Oristano to the highlands behind Macomer. Around the nuraghe there are remains of the village that was protected by a wall with gates, and that was inhabited well into the Middle Ages. There is also a small museum that tells the history of the monument with a small exhibition of archaeologcal
Near Paulilatino along the ss131 lies the archaeological site of Santa Cristina. The site consists of a nuragic sanctuary near a christian church dedicated to Santa Cristina and a nuraghe with settlement. Central to the nuragic sanctuary is the waterwell with a staircase that has been built with smooth walls and mathematical precision unseen elsewhere. The continuity of the sacred character of the place is clear from the presence of the small church and houses, only in use a few days during religious festivities. Nearby there are the remains of the nuragic settlement with a nuraghe and several huts built by shepherds in more recent times.
Oristano is the capital of the province of Oristano since 1974. In medieval times it played an important role in the history of the Judicates as the capital of the Judicate of Arborea. It has a picturesque historical center and during Carnival the characteristic event called the Sartiglia takes place in the streets of the town.
The archaeological site of Forum Traiani at Fordongianus is situated on the border of the river Tirso. Here a warm water source springs from the volcanic rock and this has been used by the romans to build their baths. Originally the name of the town was Acquae Hypsitanae until under emperor Trajan it was promoted to Forum. The town became an important military center in the late-roman and byzantine period to keep control of inland Sardinia. Just outside Fordongianus as it came to be called in modern times, lies the site of the church of one of the early christian martyrs San Lussorio.