When you leave from the stunning coast of Ogliastra, more precisely from the Arbatax’s wharf, you are still unaware of the marvels that you will see: the tourists that choose the island of Sardinia due to the beauty of its sea do not imagine the spectacle of the unaltered green heart hidden inside it.
The narrow-gauge railway line Arbatax-Mandas (the only one in the world that has a shorter gauge) is the longest in Italy: 159 kilometres that can be travelled over every day from June to September (during the rest of the year it is available only if you make a booking). The train leaves at eight o’clock in the morning from the Ogliastra plain and, after passing through the town of Tortolì, it begins to climb up towards the second stage, Elini.
Continuing on to the stations of Lanusei and Arzana, the sea is more and more distant while the irregular outline of the coast looks almost like a mirage. From the station of Villagrande on, the hilly landscape is dominated by High Lake of Flumendosa; afterwards, the train crosses the Taquisara plateau, an expanse on which the wild maquis characterized by scattered huge ancient holm-oaks grow.
Once the train has reached the villages of Ussassai and Seui, the altitude is more than 800 metres and the landscape changes into a multitude of green woods that grow on the last offshoots of the Gennargentu chain. From now on you enter the territory of the Barbagia di Seulo, preceeded by the Sadali plateau, one of the most popular stops because of the beauty of the area and the wonderful food.
Continuing towards Esterzili and Betilli the railway line crosses one of the wildest and charming part of Sardinia, full of thickly-planted trees, of high calcareous towers called 'tacchi' and of flumes where the tributaries of Flumendosa River run.
Then, all of a sudden, the environment changes and the train borders the Flumendosa Lake from a superelevated position. And there, after crossing the lake on a long panoramic bridge, you will enter the last part of the line Arbatax-Mandas, the Sarcidano, that begins with a stop at Villanovatulo. In that area, the hills alternate spots of maquis and meadows where flocks of sheep freely pasture.
The end of the trip coincides with the station of Mandas, a rural small village, meeting point of three territories, the Trexenta, the Sarcidano, the Marmilla.
Whoever will be brave enough to go through this unforgettable trip will receive a 'No-Limits Traveller Certificate', because it is not just an ordinary journey, but the discovery of new frontiers.