Ogliastra is one of Sardinia’s most appealing provinces from a naturalistic point of view, with harsh and tormented mountain landscapes which enclose the marks of man’s difficult relationship with nature. A short distance from Camping Coccorrocci, you can take a trip to two ancient Sardinian villages which, following the abrupt departure of their inhabitants in the 1950s, today are like Sardinia’s version of Pompei, although the reason for their abandonment was not lava, but water.
An excursion to these villages is a fascinating experience, taking you back in time and allowing you to discover authentic traditional Sardinian architecture, which served as inspiration for famous architects such as Couelle and Busiri Vici for their designs on the Costa Smeralda.
Osini Vecchio is a small village abandoned in 1951 after a flood which caused landslides and instability in the water supply. Getting there from Camping Coccorrocci is relatively easy; it is about thirty kilometres as the crow flies. The small houses line the main road, and discovering them is a journey back in time to the charm, harmony and wisdom of the people who lived here. The wooden fixtures, painted sky blue or bright Pompeian red, the granite lintels and doorposts, the roof tiles green with moss: everything lies like a forgotten nativity scene. The little church of Santa Susanna, lovely in its simplicity, seems still ready to receive the faithful and announce Sunday Mass with the pealing of bells. The atmosphere is one of heartrending melancholy.
Gairo vecchio, a short distance from Osini, shared the neighbouring village’s sad fate, thanks to its unlucky geography. Surely one of the most fascinating destinations on a journey to discover abandoned places in Sardinia, Gairo Vecchio is a must for holidaymakers seeking to go beyond the island’s postcard image.
A few kilometres from Osini you can leave the car at the gates of this ancient village and walk among the narrow streets, contemplating old houses and neighbourhoods transformed by time, yet still witnesses to the simple life of a Sardinian rural community in the early 50s. Entering the houses is prohibited for safety reasons, but a quick peek from the outside will give an idea of the simple beauty of the traditional architecture: fireplaces and furnishings still in place, splendid wrought iron railings, bright Mediterranean colours on fixtures, lintels and plasterwork.