Wondering what to see in Orosei? Come with me to explore this magnificent town and its surroundings among history, beaches, museums, food and much more!
Orosei is located in the gulf of the same name in the province of Nuoro, along the west coast of Sardinia. It is considered one of the most beautiful Sardinian towns. Located in the valley of the Cedrino river, the fifth longest river in Sardinia, Orosei is home to around 7 thousand inhabitants, with a flow of guests and tourists in the summer season of around 850 thousand.
Considered a historically strategic commercial destination thanks to its port, this small Sardinian town offers unspoilt natural landscapes, beautiful and famous beaches, archaeological and historical sites, as well as traditional food and multiple natural parks where to practice sports and other activities.
Get ready to fall in love with all these wonders! Let’s set off on our journey to discover the cultural and scenic richness of this little Sardinian hidden gem for a wonderful holiday!
What to see in Orosei
The historic centre of Orosei, redeveloped in recent years thanks to the efforts of the municipality as a historical-architectural enhancement project, allows visitors to immerse themselves in a context reminiscent of the original medieval village.
The richness of Orosei’s historic centre lies in its alleys, old houses, castles, churches and museums. History is therefore one of the town’s strong points.
What to see on a historical tour to discover the ancient mediaeval town, then? Here are some ideas for your tour of the town!
1. Church of St Anthony Abbot
It is part of the parish of St James. The building was erected between the 14th and 15th centuries with volcanic stone. It was developed over a pre-existing Romanesque structure that can still be observed in part. This building is included in a complex that also houses a medieval tower from the Pisan period of the 11th century.
On 16 January, a festival is organised here with the preparation and lighting of a bonfire in honour of the Saint. On the occasion of the “Fuoco di Sant’Antonio Abate”, the villagers gather wood around a pole in the church courtyard. The branches and logs deposited take on a conical shape, which is then lit. An orange cross is placed at the top of the bonfire, which will be conquered by a group of young boys during the ritual. At this time, the other villagers will walk three laps around the fire, braving the high flames.
2. Palatzos Betzos
The historic centre is the beating heart of Orosei. The old town centre is dominated by what remains of the Giudicale di Gallura palace, an ancient sovereign state in the Middle Ages. Around this palace, the district called “Palatzos Betzos” develops. This quarter consists of historic houses and palaces dating back to the 16th-17th centuries.
3. The Castle – The Old Prison
This castle stands in a dominant position with respect to the whole of Orosei. It is located in the Palatzos Betzos district and has got a tower about 15 metres high with a rectangular base. The building is enclosed on two sides by a wall overlooking a small courtyard. The entire complex is built on four height levels that can be seen from outside the building. On the façades, windows with their respective crowning merlons, characteristic of the medieval period, can be easily seen. The palace tower was used from the 16th to the 19th century as a prison. Hence its name.
4. Church of San Giacomo Maggiore
The church stands in Piazza del Popolo and its origin dates back to the 14th century. Over time, it has undergone structural changes, following restoration work dating back to the 17th century and completed in 1794. At that time, Ignazio Marsala of Orosei was rector. Baroque architects developed this church, creating one of the most striking architectural masterpieces in the whole of Sardinia. In fact, it is called “Primiziale di Orosei” in the architectural bibliography of Sardinia.
5. Sanctuary of Nostra Signora del Rimedio
It is also part of the parish of San Giacomo Maggiore. The sanctuary is consecrated to Catholic worship. It dates back to the 16th century and was completed during the 16th century. The Feast of Our Lady of Remedy is held here every second Sunday in September. Preparations begin in the first week of the month and last a full 18 days. Villagers and pilgrims from all over Sardinia gather here. There are concerts and traditional dances accompanied by traditional food and wine from Orosei and the surrounding area. Everything takes place around a single, enormous round table where social relations are forged.
6. Don Giovanni Guiso Museum
Unique in its kind, the museum, located in the Palatzos Betzos district, houses a collection of works considered to be the largest in the world. In fact, it houses Lilliputian stages and model theatres discovered by Giovanni Guiso, after whom the museum is named, around the world. There are models from the most famous German, Italian, French, English and other theatres. In addition to the collection of miniature theatres, there are works such as gold, silver and Capodimonte pottery. In addition, we find a great number of costumes and dresses from 1800 to the present day. Among these are some very valuable Diors.
What to see around Orosei?
Let’s discover together what to visit around Orosei!
This municipality of around 35,000 inhabitants is the capital of the province of the same name in Sardinia. The town takes its name from the famous “Nuraghe”. These are stone buildings with a truncated cone shape, representative of the Nuragic civilisation, which arose in Sardinia between 2300 and 1800 BC.
In the city of Nuoro, it is also possible to visit the Museo Deleddiano, created in honour of Grazia Deledda. In fact the famous writer, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature on 10 December 1926, was born in Nuoro in 1871.
Considered an unmissable stop along the eastern coast of central Sardinia, Dorgali has got unique archaeological, historical and natural attractions to offer its visitors.
These include the Nuragic Village of Tiscali, built on the summit of the mountain of the same name. The village is only visible when you reach the interior of the cavity where it was erected.
For the little ones, it will be possible to visit the Cala Gonone Aquarium, located along the coast. Visiting hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Aquarium consists of 25 tanks dedicated to the marine fauna of the Mediterranean and offers a splendid view over the crystal-clear sea of the Gulf of Orosei. The attraction is Pet-Friendly, so you can share this experience with your four-legged friends!
3. The Murals of Orgosolo
Not everyone knows that Sardinia is the home of Italian muralism and that Orgosolo, near Orosei, is its capital. Here, since 1969, the town’s walls have come to life and colour with images of pastoral life, land struggles, social transformations and the everyday life of the island’s shepherds and villages.
The particularity of these murals lies in their realisation. Water paint is used, typically used to paint the interior of houses. The murals are thus destined to disappear. Should the community feel the need and desire to keep a specific work of art alive, however, it is repainted several times over the years.
The styles of the works are very different. This is because each artist creates works according to his or her own artistic spirit and way of representing the world. Moreover, this tradition has been going on for more than 50 years. This results in differentiation due to the succession of historical epochs and their corresponding artistic styles.
This small municipality in the surroundings of Orosei has just over 3,000 inhabitants and is located in the province of Nuoro. Situated on the slopes of the Gennargentu, it is the highest village in Sardinia.
Famous for its typical Fonni sausages, it hosts the Palio di Fonni every first Sunday of August. The event was created in 1985 thanks to the Ippica Fonnese society and is organised annually in the municipal gallops. During the race, each jockey competes in the colours of his or her municipality to claim the winnings. The jockeys wear typical local costumes and perform racing and acrobatics.
During the carnival period, you can witness the symbolic fights between man and nature. The “Sos Buttudos” represent men fighting and trying to tame the animal represented by the “S’Urthu”. The former wear an orbace coat and velvet clothes, leather shoes and cowbells on their shoulders. The latter fight the former trying to free themselves from chains. There are scenes where the animal tends to climb balconies, windows, trees and attack spectators. The small municipality is therefore characterised by folk rituals and shows that are truly unique!
What to do in and around Orosei
We have already said that Orosei is a destination with a great variety of activities for every type of traveller. Let us now discover the main tourist attractions for a stay of relaxation, fitness and good food!
Orosei has got some of the most beautiful and evocative beaches in Sardinia. The sand is fine and the sea clear. The setting is reminiscent of the beauty and majesty of typical Caribbean beaches.
The most famous are Marina di Orosei, with a kiosk where it is also possible to rent beach umbrellas and sunbeds, or Cala Ginepro, so called because of the homonymous plants behind it where to take refuge during the hottest hours. But there are many others such as Cala Liberotto, Cala Luna or Osalla Beach!
It is also possible to visit one of the most beautiful caves in the Mediterranean. They are part of one of the largest karstic systems on the Italian peninsula: we are talking about the Grotta del Bue Marino! Those who visit this cave will be enchanted by the beauty of the stalactites and stalagmites in the vast galleries that compose it.
2. Sport and nature
In Orosei you can enjoy sports and nature activities designed for everyone! We find diving to observe the coast’s famous crystal-clear seabed, mountain biking and quad biking in the Biderrosa nature oasis or along the trail that climbs Mount Tuttavista, trekking in unspoilt nature, as well as 4×4 excursions aboard a Land Rover.
And for enthusiasts, there is no shortage of windsurfing!
3. Food & wine
One of Orosei’s most traditional dishes is Pane Frattau, carasau bread layered with tomato sauce and pecorino cheese, on top of which a poached egg is placed.
We also find Maccarones with sausage sauce, Sardinian gnocchetti, anchovies in tomato sauce and Aranciata nuorese. The Seadas, the cheese cake covered with honey and lemon peel typical of Sardinia, is of course a must!
During the festival of Sant’Antonio del Fuoco in Orosei, visitors are offered wine paired with “su pistiddu”. This is a traditional sweet of this festival that has a base of short pastry or puff pastry filled with sapa or honey. The name refers to the filling. “Pistiddare” literally means to caramelise, to make jam.
At the same time, another typical dish called “s’ossioca” is prepared. The dish consists of pork meat on carasau bread soaked in the meat broth together with a side dish of potatoes or broad beans.
A characteristic wine of this area is Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, together with Sardegna Semidano DOC. They are both produced in the province of Nuoro, where Orosei is located. Just an hour’s bus ride from Orosei, you can take part in a guided tour of a winery in Mamoiada where you can learn all about the Cannonau grapes, a type of vine that has been cultivated for over 3000 years!
Important events in Orosei
At Easter, we find the Rites of Holy Week in Orosei. It is a succession of processions during Thursday, Friday and Easter morning.
On the last Sunday in May, the Feast of Santa Maria ‘e Mare is celebrated. Thanks to the many flowers, the fishermen’s boats come to life in a triumph of colours!
Twice a year, the Festa di Santa Lucia is held. On 13 December and the first Sunday after Easter, the streets of Orosei come alive with folk songs and music.
Other important events are the Festa della Madonna del Rimedio and the Fuoco di Sant’Antonio Abate, which we have already mentioned.
How to get to Orosei
You can get to Orosei by landing or docking in Olbia. The distance is about 60 kilometres. It is therefore recommended to rent a car, in case you arrive in Sardinia by plane.
I hope I have convinced you to explore this amazing corner of Sardinia and experience all the fantastic attractions I have told you about!
Now that you know what to see in Orosei and its surroundings, it only remains for me to wish you a happy trip to Sardinia. Ah, remember that with Italia Delight you can create your own tailor-made food and wine trip.