Unforgettable journeys through Sardinia, traveling along the island's panoramic minor railway lines.
What better way to explore Sardinia than by climbing aboard the Trenino Verde , promoted by both the WWF and Italia Nostra organizations?
The Little Green Train chugs along four breathtakingly panoramic routes to:
Irru and the petrified forest of Carrucana
The Nulvi-Palau railway line (the journey actually starts from the stations of Alghero or Sassari), snakes across the Gallura and, after Nulvi, passes next to the Nuragic site of Irru, traveling through a landscape modeled by the area's characteristic hills or "mesas" all the way to Martis, and the area of the Carrucana petrified forest.
The train winds its way upwards, through woods of cork oak trees, towards the Gallura mountains and Tempio Pausania, the grey granite buildings of which have led to the town being given the name of City of Stone.
At this stage in the journey the route begins to descend towards the coast, past Arzachena, situated at the base of a block of granite sculpted by the wind. Soon after, the sea appears, followed by a breathtaking vision of the Maddalena archipelago, marking the train's imminent arrival at Palau.
Malaspina Castle and the house of fairies
The Macomer-Bosa route snakes its way from the coast into central Sardinia, crossing through the vineyards where the Malvasia grapes are grown, to reach the Medieval castle of Malaspina.
The 159km Mandas-Arbatax line is the longest tourist railway line in Italy
After just a few kilometers, the train arrives in the towns of Orroli and Nurri, famous for their archaeological sites containing numerous nuraghi and domus de janas or houses of fairies (the romantic name given to the neolithic tombs).
The train starts to make its way up the mountain slopes towards Gennargentu: an exhilarating journey through a series of narrow tunnels and across bridges spanning stomach-churning precipices.
Lunar landscapes and the Sardinian sea
As the train enters the region of Ogliastra the scenery begins to change rapidly, from the fruit orchards of Ussassai to the lunar landscapes of Gairo Tarquisara, before once more meeting the Flumendosa river near Villagrande, offering glimpses of the sea.
From here, the route begins to descend amidst the olive groves and vineyards, heading towards the station of Tortoli, a bathing resort famous for its white beaches and stunning red cliffs, before coming to a halt at the station close to the port of Arbatax.
Mountains and Menhir
Another train line which commences in Mandras heads deep inland, directly into the heart of Barbagia.
After a hilly stretch, the journey proceeds across the valley of Rio Mannu, with a stop at Isili to see the white nuraghe of Is Paras, and then on, into the zone of Sarcidano, as far as Nurallao, across a lush territory of Mediterranean scrub.
The train stops at the station of Laconi, thus allowing passengers to pay a visit to the Aymerich Castle and Museum of Menhir Statues
Entering the Barbagia di Belvi, the railway track skirts the Molza nuraghe and from here the curtain of mountains opens to reveal a magnificent view of the sea of Oristano.
After the pretty little station of Belci and Aritzo, the train traverses the valley of Rio Uatzue, passing across impressive viaducts and round serpentine bends before crossing the buttress which leads to the basin of Sorgono, and the station where the journey ends.
Hotels in the area
Santa Maria Navarrese