Punta La Marmora

View from Punta la Marmora into the Sardinian inland

Sitting in the crystalline waters of the Mediterranean lounges the Italian island of Sardinia. Throughout history, whichever tribe or nation had control of Sardinia was considered a bellwether for the power dynamics of the Mediterranean. One of the things that made Sardinia such a strategic point, aside from its relative size as the second-largest island in the Mediterranean, was its topography, with steep cliffs making for effective lookout stations. Today, the dramatic peaks of Sardinia are no longer used to keep marauders at bay, but rather in a much less worrisome way: for recreation, for the study of nature, and for the sheer exhilarating joy of rising to a height to look out at the earth and sea below.

Capo Caccia coastline in Sardinia, Italy

The island is home to some of the oldest geoformations in Europe, dating back to the Paleozoic era. The largest mountains on Sardinia can be found in the Gennargentu Mountain range, with granite, schist, and limestone. These mountains rise from just east of the center of the island and spend part of the year capped with snow.  The highest peak in all of Sardinia is Punta La Marmora. In the Sardinian language, Punta La Marmora is known as Perdas Carpìas, meaning “split stones.” This is due to the mountain’s characteristic cache of schist, a metamorphic rock that may be easily split (think mica, and other rocks that look like a stack of magazines).

A view from Bruncu Spina, the highest mountain on Sardinia, Italy.

The trail to Punta La Marmora is an easy one, which can be done with children and/or a dog within three hours without much difficulty. First, an ascension to the island’s second-highest peak, Bruncu Spina (at an elevation of 6,000 ft/1,829 m) must be made, either by hiking or by taking the ski lift. It’s an easy walk, less than one kilometer. Once atop Bruncu Spina, a hike along the ridge will take you to the peak of Punta La Marmora.

High dynamic range (HDR) The Gennargentu mountains in Sassari, Sardinia, Italy

From its peak one can enjoy the sort of views that are unique to being at 6,013 feet (1,833 m) in the Mediterranean Sea. You get great views of Sardinia’s scrubby corrugated landscape, the surrounding Gennargentu Mountains, and the azure sea in the distance. While summers in Sardinia are hot, it can be refreshing to scale a mountain in the summer sun. At the summit, take your time to check out the scenery and eat a snack (Sardinia has some delicious buffalo mozzarella that goes nicely in a panino with fresh tomato) while letting the breeze cool you off. If hiking Punta La Marmora in the winter, come prepared for snow. At any time of year, heavy winds come to visit the peak. Take the appropriate precautions and plan accordingly.

Cala Goloritzè – National Park of the Gulf of Orosei and Gennargentu

From the first time you see the Gennargentu Mountains, you will understand why it is so easy to fall in love with the landscape of Sardinia. From thousands of feet up, look to the peaks of the mountains around you. Gaze out toward the ocean, so remarkably clear and blue at once. Admire the natural vegetation and animals that call Punta La Marmora their home: scrubby plants and wildflowers; wild sheep, goats, and cows. Leaving the mountain can sometimes rival the bittersweet feeling of leaving the island, but after a good hike, the possibility of a return trip is always strong.

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