The Supramonte is one of the better- known zones of the Sardinia; the adjectives that have defined it belong to the reports, to the tourist guides, to the daily paper of the Island.
Impassable, wild, conflicting, evocative, but also prison, hiding place, stage of fights and rapes.
The Supramonte is there, untouchable and unchanged.
The stories, the newspaper articles, many tourist guides have helped to create a mythical image of the Supramonte for some point of view and a schematic and simple one from others. This last one is often an obstacle to the understanding of its true nature.
Then, it is better to go and to walk over the ancient limestone stones, among the smells and the colors, between the trees and the cliffs trying to feel its silences.
- The Supramonte is a plateau extended approximately 28,000 a, if it has been considered only the inland; if we consider also the coastal territory, then the area catches up the 35.000 ha.
- It belongs to five communes, that are all in the province of Nuoro: Baunei (14800 a); Dorgali (6910 a), more coastal 4400 a; Urzulei (4830 a), more coastal 1180 a ; Oliena (3620 a); Orgosolo (3360 a)
- The medium height of its reliefs is of approximately m. 900.
The higher summit is in the territory of Oliena:
> Corrasi mount m.1463.
They follow: Punta sa Pruna m.1391; Punta su Nercone m.1263; Oddeu Mount m.1063, Turusele Punta of m.1024
- natural cavities:
>cove Sa Oche Su Bentu: till now they have been explored approximately km.20.
>chasm Su Diserru: deep m.110
The most ancient holm-oaks of Europe: the wood extends more than 25 kmq.
It is possible to observe exemplaries with a diameter of m.15, with a height that can exceed the 30 meters.
- The yew-trees of the Supramonte are present in the island since the Cretaceous age (70 million years ago).
The Supramonte took shape 300 million years ago. In the Carboniferous period, an enormous tongue of granite was eructed from the earth; today this cliff reigns in Sardinia; other zones, like the Supramonte, were, instead, submerged by the water.
In the million years course, in the marine depths, the base of granitic cliff was covered with schists and white limestones and, approximately 136-165 million years ago,it emerged from the sea: then it was born the Supramonte.
Dolomites and limestones (two types of cliff), with the action of the man, are the great demiurges of this immense plateau. They have created, in immense areas, a lunar, sour,white and stony atmosphere with the complicity of the wind and the water.
They capture the attention the immense naked landscapes, the canyon, the water- courses that explode from the earth, the chasmes, the red color of the peonies and the shadow of the shepherds who live not stablily in the plateau.
Only the patience of the walker leads to the most secret and moving discoveries.
Among the scrubs of holm-oaks it is rare but not impossible to see the mouflon, who is in increase this last years, while they are extinguished by now the Sardinian red deer and the fallow-deer.
The wild boar loves the nocturnal life, he is a regular haunter of the driven scrub and the spot; the coupling happens in winter and the female gives birth after 16 or 20 weeks. If you had to meet her with her youngs, you should know that she is particularly aggressive.
Rarer are the encounters with the animals of smaller size; we mean the dormouse, the marten, the Sardinian fox and the wild cat. This last one is in constant decrease even if it is a species particularly protect. It chooses its lair in small holes of the cliff or in the cavity of the trees; as the domestic colleagues, it prefers the nocturnal hours.
The fauna of the birds deserves a special attention; till some years ago it counted on the presence of the three European voltures that are today instead extinguished: the griffon-vulture, the monk-vulture and the “gipeto”. Also the wonderful Eagle of Bonelli found a perfect habitat in this plateau, but today it is disappeared and lives only in stories and in uncertain sights.
With regard to the griffon, that somebody supports to have recently seen in this zone, it must be saying that he lives, nests and reproduces in other areas of the island.
Other magnificent birds have stubbornly chosen the skies of the Supramonte: the royal Eagle, the goshawk, the travelling hawk, the kestrel, the sparrow-hawk and the buzzard.
Well- represented, some also during the nidification, are the noisy imperial crows and the coralline grackle, the multicolor woodpecker, the famous solitary sparrow and the “culbianco”, that make lively in spring the crystalline sky of the Supramonte.
- reptiles and amphibians
In a territory like this they could not lack reptiles and amphibians. The most common and innocuous coluber: a likeable green snake that shares generously the heat of the sun with rarer colleagues, like the lizard of the Bedriaga.
It is also present and good adapted to this atmosphere, even if rarest, the “natrice” of Cetti. The female can arrive to the 2 meters of length, while the male difficultly exceeds 1 meter and twenty. Its aspect does not have to trick,it is absolutely innocuous.
Most interesting it is the inhabitant for excellence of the numerous coves of the Supramonte: the Sardinian geo-Triton. It is an endemic species that adores the humidity of the coves. It has a rather large head in regard to the body with large and prominenet eyes; it is long approximately 15 centimeters and has a grey color. For the perfect conformation of the fingers it succeeds to climb on really smooth walls. It is not a protected species, but because of the hunters it soon will be.
In the Supramonte di Orgosolo, in the zone of Rio Flumineddu there is a greatest forest of secular holm-oaks: in some areas the trees have never undergone the cut, only case in all Italy and rare reality in Europe. The great trees succeed to catch up diameters of 15 meters and heights of 30 meters.
In the other zones of the Supramonte the holm-oak is present with forests managed to coppice ( periodically undergone to cut) used for the wood.
After the cut, in fact, the holm-oak produces new branches from the tree stump, favoring the continuous replacement of young plants.
To accompany the holm-oak there are Phoenician- junipers, hollies and Phoenician-yews.
The firsts, present also in other zones, love barren lands with limestone substratum; they blossom in February-April with red berries used in some local recipes.
In the zones with rich and deep land it vegetates the holly; among its characteristic leaves, in May and June, they blossom little really soft flowers, white the females and red the males, that transform themselves in vermilions fruits in August and September .
It follows the yew, or tree of the death, called in this way for the great toxicity of the leaves and seeds; the aril fruits are instead eatable.
- plants, flowers, endemisms
Remaining in the zone of Orgosolo it is interesting the visit to Monte Novo San Giovanni. This area, in fact, permits to observe numerous botanical varieties, between which some endemisms.
There is the multiflorum ribes (black-currant) that blooms in April-May, with hanging clusters of small green flowers and that has a close relation in the Corrasi Mount: the ribes sardoum Martelli, a variety still rarer.
The galium schmidii, that with its white star flowers succeeds to make sprightly the cliff atmospheres in the barren summery period, is present in other zones of the island with other species: g. scabrum, g. corsicum and the g. glaucophillum.
The “elicriso”, a plant able to support different substrata, blossoms in March-May with driven yellow flowers that show themselves on a long peduncle. It is known in all the Island with varied names, between which su frore de Santu Juanne (flower of Saint Giovanni) or grass de Santa Maria (grass of Saint Maria).
To cheer the rocky atmospheres and to tolerate the most degraded zones there is the white color of the white lily ( pancraticum illyricum); it grants itself generously to the sight between May and June.
In spring it is not difficult to see the red color of the peony, not only when it is generously opened, but also when the petals are timidly collected in bud. The Sardinians call it rose of the mounts, an official investiture of Queen of the mountain.
Always in this period, preferring forests and shady zones, it rises the cyclamen. The fortune of seeing many of those, all grouped like a rose oasis, repays the rarity of this show.
The narcissus instead cohabits with the hard winter and fades to the beginning of the spring; between February and March, in fact, between the simple leaves they peep in its white and yellows flowers at umbel. In Sardinia lives another species of narcissus,” the narcissus tazetta” of an intense yellow.
the man and the Supramonte
The sourness of the atmosphere of the Supramonte has never favoured the presence of the man; but just this has been his fortune and for this great part of the territory is practically incontaminate.
The fires have destroyed many hectares of wood and have transformed the forest in a pebbly barren land; but the naturalistic patrimony of the Supramonte remains, by extension and variety, one of the most conspicuous of all Sardinia.
- a little history
The archaeological excavations in the Cove of Corbeddu, to VVthe feet of the Supramonte of Oliena, have brought to light the remains of a red deer (Megaceros cazioti ), who has lived approximately 18500 mila years ago. Some signs on the bones of the animal indicate for certain the intervention of the man.
Tiscali is really a true village in the heart of the Supramonte, it goes back to the last phase of the nuragical age. The show that introduces to the visitor is of extreme beauty: the rests of the takeover are arranged, in fact, to the inside of one gigantic limestone cavity, generated from a tectonic sinking.
Before that the incivility of the visitors destroyed it, the village was in optimal conditions of conservation. Now only the structures of some huts are visible, but the visit repays of the necessary hard workn to arrive at it.
They also go back to the nuragical period the rests of the Nuraghe Mereu, that was built on a hill with large blocks of white limestone, and that one of Gorroppu.
- shepherds and pinnettos
Today the only true inhabitants of the Supramonte are the shepherds who still live in sos pinnettos; they know the roads and the paths, the difficulties and the compromises.
We must ask them to sketch out the reports, to help us to understand the tracks that have left on the land centuries of history for better and for worse.
To know means also to listen their testimonies.
They are the only ones who, in the course of the centuries, could preserve the only possible construction of the Supramonte: on pinnettu.
This architectonic work, that is really good described by Angelino Congiu, with least variants, it answers to the necessity to survive to a climate sometimes unforeseeable and to have however a shelter manufactured with material extracted from the atmosphere. The rests of the ancient nuragical huts (3500 years ago) say to us that the houses of the ancient Sardinians did not have to be much various from su pinnettu.
On pinnettu is a very particular hut: the base, that reminds to that one of a nuraghe, is constituted from stones of similar largeness, arranged like in a dry wall. The spaces that are present between a block and the other, are filled up from little stones, clay or loam, so that there are any draughtes. From the base, high approximately a meter, it rises a cover of conical shape, that is made with juniper trunks who stay on three or four stronger trunks. This structure is covered with branches of juniper, while a stone is placed to the apex in order to stop the original cover.
By now also the shepherds are not more disposed living in the earth of the Supramonte; the often hard life of the shepherd makes to leave off the youngest menventuring in an activity that by now desappears.