(CNN) — Made up of over 1,000 kilometers of principally oceanfront trails circling the island of Sardinia, the ‘Cammino 100 Torri’ — or 100 Towers Path — may not be Italy’s most well-known hike, however it’s definitely of its most spectacular.
This epic round-trip journey, stuffed with blood-red sunsets, historical structure and stunning seashores, departs from the town of Cagliari on Sardinia’s southern-tip.
From there, eight completely different trails totaling 1,284 kilometers await, providing hikers the perfect Italy’s second-largest island area has to supply.
The full expertise takes 45-60 days on common to finish. But for these quick on time, it may well simply be damaged up into smaller journeys.
The essential highlights, as the trail’s title suggests, are the 100 stone lookout towers that line Sardinia’s shores. Built over the 1500s and 1700s to defend towards enemy incursions — pirates included — most have fallen into spooky destroy, although some have been remodeled into lighthouses and personal properties.
Once roamed by warriors, retailers, pilgrims, clergymen and raiders, the trail rewards at this time’s hikers with the distinctive scents and surroundings of the Mediterranean coast, with its purplish rocks, twisted seaside tree branches and sand grains as thick as rice.
A religious journey
The 100 Towers Path takes hikers previous fishermen villages, outdated chapels, castles, salt pans, deserted caves, ponds and desert-like sand dunes, with views of Sardinia’s translucent waters by no means distant.
But for Nicola Melis, an area engineer who six years in the past re-discovered the 100 Towers Path and has since circled the island alone 4 instances, its attract goes behind simply stunning surroundings.
“It’s more than just a path, it’s a spiritual pilgrimage inside your innermost self,” he tells CNN Travel. “if you do it solo it’s a physical and mental challenge. You conquer the deepest beauty of Sardinia through strain, and it’s rewarding.
“I like the hardest components, just like the steep uphill hike to Baunei’s tall cliffs, alongside the Ogliastra path, with the best of views, since you solely rely by yourself energy and endurance. You always remember your first hike right here, it is like your first automobile or girlfriend.”
On sure sections of the trail, hikers can soothe their weary toes within the heat waters of the Mediterranean.
Melis says what pushed him to recover and promote the route was the discovery of a soldier’s pamphlet dating back to the 1500s that mapped the entire network of defensive towers. The soldier traveled the route on horseback, and then, spiritually changed by the long journey, decided to become a monk.
How to tackle it
If stretched out in a straight line, the 100 Towers Path is long enough to connect Italy’s Alps to its deepest southern lands. The farthest it deviates from the coast is just two kilometers inland.
Hikers are advised to start counter-clockwise from Cagliari, which allows them to dodge the intense Mistral northwest wind that would blow against them at the start of the hike, making it tougher.
Travelers can also join one of the association’s regular organized groups, usually made up of 20-60 hikers, or head out on their own journey for as many days as they want. It’s open year-round.
Hikers opting to do it alone are advised to evaluate their skills and fitness levels before setting out and bear in mind they could find themselves hiking under a scorching summer sun.
“You should be match, put together to pressure your muscle groups and keep away from carrying a backpack that is greater than 10% of your physique weight,” says Melis.
“You’ll discover ingesting water fountains and bars alongside the way in which, however typically they’re distant so examine the journey effectively.”
Giants, angels and demons
Melis says there are four trails that have become particularly popular among hikers.
The shortest and easiest one, ideal for beginners, is the 62-kilometer Angels’ Path running from Cagliari up north towards the holiday seaside resort of Villasimius.
The hike starts off from one of the city’s oldest chapels, passing the first five towers in a ring-like direction. Called ‘the Devil’s Saddle’ it continues along baby powder and pebble stone beaches, silent inlets, grottos and coral reef seabeds.
The Sarcapos trail is next, running from Villasimius to Tertenia for 143 kilometers, mainly offering pure beach bliss along the pristine shores of Costa Rei. It takes about 5-7 days to finish this hike, which features a pond inhabited by pink flamingos, rocky hills, a river and the ruins of a Phoenician lost city, a temple and necropolis.
The scents of strawberry and mastic trees, myrtle and oak trees blend with the salty sea breeze.
The most challenging trail is the Ogliastra, on the eastern coast, suitable for experienced hikers. It runs for 144 kilometers and takes almost a whole week to complete, leading up Baunei’s steep mountains to mesmerizing sea crags such as Cala Gonone, crossing pine and juniper forests, natural rock arches, old sheepfolds, ancient coal merchants and donkey routes used by shepherds.
This one carries travelers into Sardinia’s untouched wilderness, offering breathtaking panoramas.
The 100 Towers Path is made up of eight trails that stretch 1,284 kilometers.
Archeology lovers will benefit from the pagan “Giants Trail” in the eastern Sinis Peninsula, another must-do section of the 100 Towers Path. Its name stems from the primitive nuraghe dwellings found in the area, dubbed “Giants,” which resemble miniature Stonehenges.
Hikers will wander through the lost Phoenician city of Tharros, its ruins dotting the landscape, and come across sacred pagan wells, an ancient Roman road and aqueduct.
Meanwhile, the Mines Trail, on the southwest coast, cuts through the tall white sand dunes of Piscinas, a huge desert-looking powder-white beach with one of the most translucent seas in the Mediterranean.
Abandoned mines and weird-shaped sea stacks such as the “sugar loaf” are the main stops.
“The 100 Towers Path connects 26 completely different coastal habitats, every with their peculiar vegetation and wildlife. You come throughout seaside deserts, rocky granite hills and 40 protected oases with wild boars, sea turtles, cormorants, maritime pine forests,” says Melis.
Seafront convents and glamping
The towers that line the path were built over the 1500s and 1700s to defend against enemy incursions.
Alessio Orrù/Adobe Stock
Melis’s 100 Towers Path Association unites hikers, posts online calendars flagging group trips and offers a wide range of suggestions for accommodations, beach bars (‘chioschi’) and restaurants with special prices for hike participants.
Access to the path is free, but there are private guides for tailored short tours. The cost is around 150 euros ($150) per day for two people.
Hikers can chose from among 200 affiliated businesses for their daily pit stops.
Sardinia’s northern shores tend to be more touristy and crowded during summer, while the rest of the island, particularly the southwest coast, is more authentic and offbeat, allowing hikers to fully experience the thrill of the 100 Towers Path.