Quartu Sant’elena, the third largest city in Sardinia
With some 70000 inhabitants, Quartu Sant’Elena is the third largest city in Sardinia after Cagliari and Sassari. Until the ’60s its economic life was mainly based on agriculture, handicrafts and salt extraction. The proximity to Cagliari favored a rapid urban and demographic expansion that in a few decades changed a quiet rural village into a real town, involving also its shoreline.
Inhabited since prehistoric times, the territory has numerous nuraghi, nearly all built to guard the passages towards the sea.
Phoenicians and Romans settled at key points, colonizing the native island population who lived near the coastal marshes. The town name comes in fact from the fourth mile’s milestone of the Roman road that led from Cagliari to the inside of the island.
In the following centuries the Byzantines left also a significant cultural heritage.
The current shape of the old town however recalls the medieval period.
The events brought the village under the domination of the Catalans, of the Spanish overlords, of the Austrians and finally of the Piedmont.
In 1793 an attempted invasion of the French army was heroically stopped on Quartu coast. In 1959 the Italian Republic officially recognized the status of “town” to Quartu, adding the name of the patron saint to avoid confusion with homophonic locations nationwide.
Quartu Sant’Elena has a charming coastline of 26 km. From the famous urban beach Poetto, shared with Cagliari, to the magnificent beaches of Mari Pintau (Painted Sea), of Murtaucci (sweet myrtle) and of Kala ‘e Moru (Bay of Saracen), awarded with the European Blue Flag. The European Blue Flag was also awarded to the Marina di Capitana, safe and equipped tourist port.
The Quartu coastal territory, along the road that leads to Villasimius, offers several places of great natural interest, such as the beaches of Geremeas, the Punta Is Mortorius and the bay of Cala Regina.
The nature parks
Being in the centre of an integrated system of nature parks, Quartu territory is rich natural and environmental attractions.
On the banks of the omonimous pond the park Molentargius is together with the Beach Poetto and the abandoned salt-pans a protected wetland, where rare species of birds and a colony of pink flamingos live and nest, a real paradise for birdwatchers who dare to venture into the reeds of the surrounding marsh.
The hinterland east of the city is part of the Park Sette Fratelli, a mountain area covered with forests dotted with springs, waterfalls, cliffs, natural sculptures in granite, and Mediterranean. It is the ideal place for walking, hiking, trekking and exciting adventures in search of the rare deer, or of the many wild boars.
Food and Wine
Quartu, meeting point of the different cultures in Sardinia, has a rich and interesting gastronomy background that combines the intense flavours of the agro-pastoral tradition with the refined Mediterranean culture.
In some old town districts bread is still hand made in the traditional forms of “coccoi” and “modizzosu”. In an island that is very attentive to the tradition of sweets, we can’t forget the local confectionery masters who make all kinds of delicacies.
Photo Credits by ajoheyho