A town of ancient origin picturesquely situated at the far end of a beautiful gulf, with the granite mountains of Gallura surrounding the town on three sides.
On landing at Olbia you will be captured by the splendid coastal views, pretty bays and hidden coves of the Costa Smeralda, a charming elite resort contrasting with the misterious traces of its ancient history.
Olbia, formerly called Terranova, was originally a Punic settlement and later a prosperous Roman town, was founded by the Phoenicians in the fourth century BC.
It was intensively colonised by the Romans who took it from the Cartaginians.
Pisans and Genoese fought over it, it was raided three times by the Barbary Corsairs, and was occupied by the English for a short time in the eighteenth century.
Places to see
In the old city, the Romanesque church of San Simplicio merits a visit.
San Simplicio is a lovely Pisan Church, it is bare of decoration inside, but has a noble dignity, and can be considered as one of the finest of its kind in Sardinia.
Isolated on a small hill, this building (which dates from the 11-12th Centuries) was constructed in three distinct periods.
It is built in the grey granite of the Gallura region and has a facade split into three parts by two narrow windows; to the right of the pediment there is a small wall belfry which was added at a later date, while along the sides of the apse there is a line of Romanesque arches which rest on pilaster strips.
The interior is of the basilican plan and has three naves, the central one with timbered roof, the lateral naves with barrel vaults separated by semicircular arcades resting alternately on pillars or columns.
The original construction appears in the lower section of the walls and can be seen in certain consoles of the nave, denoting a timbered roof which was replaced by a barrel vault when the church was extended and the outer walls raised, while at the same time a second series of blind arcades was added.
The Pisan-Romanesque facade with its Lombard motifs is later in date.
It is divided into three parts, the central having a simple portal surmounted by a high semicircular tympanum and, above, by a triple bay.
The two wings are decorated with arcades which we find again on the lateral walls and on the small apse.
They rest alternately on a console or on a pilaster.
Funerary inscriptions and cipi along the walls were once part of the Roman way from Olbia to Karalis.
Pedrese Castle can be admired on the vicinity of the Necropolis.
To the west of the town on the road to Loiri, located on the top of a granitic hill enjoys a splendid view over the plain, especially in spring when the countryside is enlivened with a tapestry of wild flowers and maquis in bloom.
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