Set in a territory of some 22,220 ha, the splendid nature area of Monte Linas – Oridda – Marganai, offering sweeping vistas, belongs to the municipalities of Domusnovas, Fluminimaggiore, Gonnosfanadiga, Iglesias and Villacidro. A mainly mountainous area, with varied terrain, spanning the granite slopes of Monte Linas and the limestone massif of the Marganai, separated by the rugged tableland of Oridda, clothed for thousands of hectares in the stunning holm oak forest of Montimannu. The varied terrain coupled with the action of the weather has created an astonishing variety of natural landforms and environments: the granite reliefs are cut by ravines, canyons and waterfalls, such as the spectacular waterfall at Villacidro. In the limestone massifs, instead, seeping water has patiently carved underground rivers and exceptional caves, such as the beautiful San Giovanni cavern in Domusnovas. The higher ground is covered by dense holm oak woods, while cork trees clothe the lower slopes, together with large patches of Mediterranean maquis growing on very ancient rocks (among the oldest in Italy). Scattered among the greenery are some derelict mining sites. The area was once a thriving mining district, with several mine works and miners’ villages, whose silent ruins among the greenery form today a fascinating industrial heritage. The area is rich in wildlife, the most representative being the wild boar, followed by fox, wild cat, Sardinian hare, weasel, marten, buzzard, Eurasian sparrow hawk and rare species such as the griffon vulture and the cave salamander. Plant life includes rare endemic species, such as Helichrysum montelinasanum, Iberis integerrima, Genista sulcitana and Festuca morisiana. To protect the natural heritage of the Marganai and promote its appreciation, a botanical garden, Giardino Linasia, has been set up, managed by the cooperative of the same name. The garden displays the distinctive geological-plant associations of this area, accurately reconstructing actual habitats and plant communities.
The area is accessed from Iglesias along a track that starts at the entrance to the city and leads to the old Marganai roadmaster’s house. Alternatively, take road 126 Iglesias – Guspini, turning for the San Benedetto hamlet and then take the track leading to the Case Marganai. The site is off limits to cars, but can be accessed on foot.
The park management centre is housed in the Case Marganai buildings: it includes an office and attached living quarters, a mechanical workshop and a forge. Nearby is a helipad, a key logistic facility in the fight against summer wildfires. The centre is managed by the Linasia Cooperative, which also offers tourist accommodation packages and organises guided tours of the area on foot or on horseback and tours of the botanical garden. Other services include summer camps, training workshops, environmental education seminars, study and research camps.