bestmareNE Tavolara
Near the north east coast of Sardinia a limestone monolith emerges from the sea from which the marine area in which it stands takes its name.

Province: Province of Sassari

Maximum altitude: (Punta Cannone) 565 m a.s.l.
Location: Olbia (Tyrrhenian Sea)

South of Olbia, in the San Teodoro area, is the Tavolara archipelago, a suggestive marine protected area.
This reserve of great natural importance, is made up of the islands of Tavolara, Molara, Molarotto and Piana and offers visitors fascinating itineraries suspended between sea and mountains.
The island of Tavolara is characterized by kilometers of beautiful beaches; on the south-east side you can admire cliffs up to a hundred meters high above the sea, while the opposite side of the island is less steep.
The north-western side is distinguished by a slight slope made up of pink granite.
Its flora is being studied: in fact, the possible nesting of the storm bird and osprey, a rare species in Sardinia, has been reported.
The island of Molara is characterized by ravines and caves and the landscape is hilly; at its side we find Molarotto, a pyramid-shaped rock that houses a unique lizard in the world, the Lacerta tiliguerta ranzii.
Isola Piana is a small oasis surrounded by a very clean sea and crystal clear reflections.
Of granite nature, it has an area of ​​3, 411 km² and reaches, with Punta la Guardia, 158 m s. L. m. The toponym, of medieval attestation, is probably due to the rounded and uniform shape of the island, similar to a millstone. So far there are no documented prehistoric settlements on the island of Molara but at the dawn of Christianity it is said that Pope Pontian (235) was exiled there together with the priest Ippolito, an ardent Christian and of vast culture, from Maximin the Thrace, who died of starvation and torture in Molara. In the north-western part of the island, near Cala Chiesa, there are the remains of a medieval single-ship church, in Romanesque style dedicated to San Ponziano
Immersed in the dense vegetation, the ruins of the church attributed to Pope Pontian martyr rise on the island of Molara, entering a few hundred meters inside Cala Chiesa, overlooking the island of Tavolara. Pope Pontian, exiled to Sardinia by Maximin the Thracian in 235, died of hardship and torture in Molara. Also with him was the priest Ippolito, an ardent Christian with a vast culture.
Around this church it was possible to identify the remains of a medieval town and further upstream of a castle, probably the ancient Gurguray even if there is no certain information on its actual demographic consistency. In the 15th century the existence on the island of a monastery of nuns is testified.
The island looks like a majestic limestone massif overlooking the sea, roughly rectangular in shape, about 6 km long and 1 km wide; it rests on a granite rocky substrate that clearly emerges in some parts; reaches a maximum altitude of 565 meters above sea level and at the ends it has two more easily accessible items. The cape on the west side of the island (Spalmatore di Terra) faces Loiri Porto San Paolo and welcomes the scarce civil settlements on the island and the most beautiful beaches. There were also docks for small boats, which connect the island with the port of Loiri Porto San Paolo. The cape on the east side, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, consists of Punta Timone, which divides two small bays (respectively exposed to NW and SE). It houses, in addition to a maritime signaling beacon, a NATO military base, managed by the Navy, intended for very long range and very low wave frequency terrestrial telecommunications. Its three antennas, more than two hundred meters high, are easily visible even from a distance. Near Punta del Papa there is a majestic natural arch above which are the ruins of the old lighthouse, abandoned because it was built too high and often hidden by the blanket of clouds. The island is crossed by a small military road, with large sections in the tunnel, which connects the military base to a landing pier on the west side of the island, used when the weather and sea conditions make it difficult to land in the small port attached to the military base. .
The presence of man on the island is attested with certainty from the Middle Neolithic and numerous remains have been found in the Grotta del Papa. In the Upper Palaeolithic Tavolara was connected to the mainland and to the island of Molara but following the raising of the level of the sea ​​and the continuous erosion exerted by the waves and the strong winds first separated from the mainland and only ten thousand years ago from the nearby island. In the early Iron Age (10th-9th century BC) on the flat tongue of the Spalmatore di Terra it is documented the presence of a stopover of navigators from the opposite Etruria, at the time of the Villanovan cultural events. Hermaea and Turarium were the ancient names of the island of Tavolara. In the middle of the 5th century it was visited by San Mamiliano and by other anchorites, followers of him. During the Middle Ages little is known about the island which was almost certainly not permanently inhabited but used as a military defense. It seems that a colony of pirates settled on the island shortly after the year 1000. Even in the eighteenth century, the naturalist Francesco Cetti wrote that pirates were often present on the island. After the arrival of the Genoese settlers, at the end of the eighteenth century, the population of the island grew to a maximum of about sixty inhabitants, largely thanks to the arrival of fishermen from Ponza in search of lobsters, only to be finally abandoned to the early sixties. The lime production industry developed in the past, easily obtained from the local rocky substrate and from the abundant juniper wood by means of special ovens clearly visible at the marina.