Asinara is a small island located off the north-western corner of Sardinia. This is a place of great and unspoiled natural beauty. It became one of Italy’s 24 national parks in 1997 and nowadays it is an official nature reserve and protected marine area.
The island is uninhabited and is 52 square kilometers in area and boasting a rich variety of wildlife including rare birds, wild horses, mouflon and a unique herd of wild albino donkeys from which it is thought that the island takes its name.
Prehistoric houses were found on Asinara near Campu Perdu. These are carved into the limestone and are also known as ‘Domus de Janas’ which translates as ‘Sprites’ houses’. These houses are unique to the island.
The island has the common Mediterranean history of colonization by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. It was attacked by pirates and fought over by the Aragons and the city states of Pisa and Genoa before eventually becoming part of the kingdom of Italy.
In 1885 there were built a hospital and prison in Asinara and more than 500 inhabitants were made to leave the island. During the 1 st World War, more than 24 000 prisoners were incarcerated on the island and later the prison was used to house the most dangerous terrorists and Mafia members of Italy including the famous Toto Rina. The island operated as a prison more than 112 years and during this period only two people escaped which is the lowest number of escapees from any prison in the world.
The prison was closed in 1997 and island of Asinara became a national park. Nowadays it is forbidden for private boats to stop at the island, although it is possible for tourists to visit the place on guided tours. Fishing trips and diving excursions are also permitted on a limited and strictly supervised basis.
Location: Mediterranean Sea
Sights: Assial Cavalcando L’Asinara, Cala d’Oliva Diving Center
Cuisine: There is a good range of seafood and Sardinian food available on the menu of most of the restaurants in the area. You will find here the Sardinian food made using authentic recipes served along with the best wine.
Hotels: Geranio Rosso Hotel & Restaurant, Bravo Club Stintino, Hotel Ristorante Silvestrino
Shopping: Asinara offers a wide variety of traditional craft items and food products. Here visitors can purchase excellent quality olive oil, wines, and cheeses produced in the area.