Made up of over 1,000 kilometers of oceanfront trails circling the island of Sardinia, the ‘Cammino 100 Torri’—or 100 Towers Path—might not be Italy’s most famous hike, but it’s quite possibly its most spectacular.
This epic round-trip journey, filled with startling sunsets, ancient architecture and beautiful beaches, departs from the city of Cagliari on Sardinia’s southern-tip.
From there, eight different trails totaling 1,284 kilometers await, offering hikers the best Italy’s second-largest island region has to offer.
The full experience takes 45-60 days on average to complete. But for those on a tighter schedule, it can easily be broken up into smaller trips.
The main highlights, as the path’s name suggests, are the 100 stone lookout towers that line Sardini’s coast. Built over the 1500s and 1700s to defend against enemy incursions, most have fallen into ruin, though a handful have been transformed into lighthouses and private homes.
Once roamed by warriors, merchants, pilgrims, priests and raiders, the path rewards today’s hikers with the unique air and scenery of the Mediterranean coast.
The 100 Towers Path takes hikers past fishermen villages, old chapels, castles, salt pans, abandoned caves, ponds and desert-like sand dunes, with views of Sardinia’s translucent waters never far away.
For Nicola Melis, a local engineer who six years ago re-discovered the 100 Towers Path and has since circled the island alone four times, its allure goes behind just beautiful scenery.
“It’s more than just a path, it’s a spiritual pilgrimage,” he said. “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 love the toughest parts, like the steep uphill hike to Baunei’s tall cliffs, along the Ogliastra trail, with the greatest of views, because you solely rely on your own strength and endurance. You never forget your first hike here, it’s like your first car or girlfriend.”