A bike excursion along an old railway line, between the provinces of Nuoro and Cagliari- low hills and wild places like the “Giare“.

archaeology: ***
panoramic sites

length: km 22
time:half a day
difficulty: easy
max. grade: 3%
road surface: a well-beaten track with  cobbles

The track in general
One of the most interesting Sardinian bicycle-tracks goes from Isili to Barumini, along an old railway line, disused since1956.
The route has low difficulty levels: the grade is never over 3%, which was the highest one allowed for railways in 1910, when those tracks were built.
It consists of some cutting sections and some overhead ones among the hills overlooking the surrounding plateau.
Along the way you can see the low hills of  Marmilla, the majestic tablelands of the “Giare” and old buildings which date from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.

To reach  Isili
The journey starts from the station of Isili-Sarcidano (416 m) , which connected the Isili-Sorgono line (still existing) to the branchline Isili-Villacidro.
The station is about km. 4 from Isili, towards Nurallao. You can reach it also with the Isili-Sorgono line, with the Trenino Verde –Little Green Train– administrated by the Sardinian Railways; that line is connected to Mandas-Tortolì line and to Cagliari. This summer-service can be put into action on request and reaches Isili at 8.40 a.m., leaving from Cagliari at 6.45 a.m.

The well-beaten track can be easily travelled over by mountain bike; it doesn’t exactly correspond to the old railway because of an artificial lake (formed by a dam over Riu Mannu) which has partially flooded the tracks. You coast the lake: there is a little island in the middle, which was a little hill in the past and where the country-church of S. Sebastian is set. After three kilometres a small road on the left leads you to  the tomb of the giants of Aiodda: it bears witness, along with other remains, to the nuraghic and prenuraghic ages in this area.
You then go through a long raised area from which you can see the village of Gesturi on the left and the towns of Genoni and Nuragus before you. You reach Nuragus (m. 359), a little village whose old station is nowadays used as the town-library. Going out of the village you climb a hill, which is already part of the Giara di Gesturi, through a territory used as pastureland.

First stage> Gesturi (m. 310) pop. 1500
The station, 287 metres above sea-level, is detached from the village and inhabited by private citizens. The route goes through a tunnel (about 100 m) and goes around the village. The Giara di Gesturi is one of the largest plateaux between Sarcidano and Marmilla and is famous for its renowned little wild horses.

Going down along Riu Mannu flow and bordering the  SS. 197 after a few kilometres you reach the station of Barumini (198 m), located a few hundred metres from the famous Su Nuraxi complex.

Second stop > Barumini (m. 202) pop.1500
Barumini: the Su Nuraxi complex
The track passes very close to the most famous nuraghic village on the island, whose oldest parts date back to the XVth century B.C. The ruins of a lerge village, which are nowadays imposing remains, were discovered only in 1949, when they were brought to light by a flood.

SardiniaPoint suggests:
the assoc. Ichnusa manages Su Nuraxi (maintenance and tourist service). Tel. 0709368510.

This disused rail way can be still travelled over southwards for some kilometres to the town of Las Plassas, overlooked by a castle of the family of Arborea, dating back to the “Giudicale” Age. The castle stands on a perfectly cone-shaped hill. Farther on you cannot follow the track because of trespassing.

You can complete the bicycle track with the Sardinian Green Little Train (Trenino Verde), carrying your bike on board.

Information and booking:
>Sardinian Railways, Cagliari management, tel. 07057930346- fax 070580246
>Station of  Isili, tel. 07822802033

by Gianluigi Sassu