Wandering Sardinia

Bonorva is where you get off the superstrada for the Valley of the Nuraghe, but they’ve just found the ruins of a rather large Roman city just out of town.

Bonorva Finds a Roman City

Updated Jan 30, 2019

My first experience in Sardinia starts in 1984 when Martha and I took off for Bonorva, a small town of just over 4000 people. We were to draw and database the crumbling Nuraghe in the zone.

The “dig house” had a view of a monastery on a hill, which we could gawk at while chowing down at our communal table.

bonorva
Our table in Bonorva (that's not smog, but a true vintage photo).

Martha and I had a tiny, one-room house down the street from the dig house. Water was scarce on the island. We had only two hours of it per day. So we had to fill the tub after breakfast, then take turns bathing in it when we got home from work.

Funny thing is, the town churned out gallon after gallon of the best mineral water in Sardinia if not Italy. It’s called S. Lucia. Today the fizzy water has its own facebook page

Bonorva we might say, was romantically rustic 35 years ago.

Enter the Romans

Between the town and the celebrated valle dei nuraghi, which contains the 20 “fairy houses” of the Necropolis of Sant’Andrea Priu, there now lies what might turn out to be the most spectacular Roman site on the island. What we know now is that it had a big Roman Baths area.

Excavations are ongoing. Who knows how big this Roman village will get? What we know is that the ruins were so unknown that the city was pretty darned intact below the earth.

Below is a link to a sneak peek. The Video is in Italian, but you can see the start of the excavation with the waterways for the baths explained by Nadia Canu and gushed over by Mossimo D’Agostino, the current mayor of Bonorva.

BONORVA: A ROMAN CITY NEAR THE CAVES OF SANTANDREA PRIU

Bonorva as a travel hub

I had never thought of Bonorva as a place to stay for tourists. 35 years ago there weren’t any places to stay. Today there are some highly rated bed and breakfasts, as you can see on the lodging map below. You won’t have to bust through the rough crowd of shepherds drinking beer and shooing away tourists and their cameras at the Bar Centrale like we did, it’s now known for spritzes and a young crowd.

Just outside Bonorva is “Ristorante Valle dei Nuraghi” where you can try Bonorva’s specialty pasta made from bread dough, Zichi di Bonorva.

Besides the Necropolis of Sant’Andrea Priu, there is the Nuragic complex of Santu Antine di Torralba you should visit. Go in spring so you enjoy the verdant valley and the wildflowers.

sant'andrea priu
Sant'Andrea Priu and the plain of Saint Lucia

And if that’s not enough, there’s what I call the “world’s best off-ramp attraction” just off the 131 Superstrada, Santa Christina where you can see an ancient sacred well that’ll blow you away. The archaeological site has a gift shop, a bar, and a good restaurant where the water is S. Lucia from Bonorva.

Pick a place to stay and go there to see it all. You won’t be disappointed. Or thirsty.

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