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island of  Asinara


Asinara is the fifth largest island in Italy (excluding Sardinia and Sicily).
It is characterized by a narrow and elongated shape, rich in natural inlets that give it a "sinuous" appearance. Hence one of the many hypotheses of the name Asinara (Sinuaria).
The island has a unique historical, environmental and legal situation. Its history begins with the Neolithic Age of which traces of this past are still present today with the "Domus de Janas" (house of the fairies) of Campu Perdu.
It was the first hospital of the Kingdom of Italy, a prison camp during the First World War and the main superprison in Italy during the period of the Red Brigades of the 70s and in the fight against the mafia until the establishment of the Park in 1997. The isolation, which lasted over a century, produced the birth of the charm and mystery of the island and at the same time an extraordinary conservation, making it a unique and priceless heritage of world level.

The national park and the marine protected area

In 1997 the Asinara National Park was established and subsequently the Marine Protected Area. The park is divided into the various protection zones both on land and at sea. The asinara becomes to all effects a naturalistic oasis with a vast territory (52 square km) and to all effects one of the islands with the greatest environmental protection in the Mediterranean. In this way we continue to preserve that incredible flora-fauna integrity left over for more than 100 years  of isolation.

The villages

Cala d'Oliva
Coming from Cala Reale, the village of Cala d'Oliva appears almost suddenly with the appearance of a small coastal town. Its main feature is the white color of the houses. You immediately notice that the buildings in the lower part of the village (old area) are low buildings with one or two floors and instead in the upper part it is characterized by more important volumes, such as the Director's house, the former offices of the prison management, the former Agents Barracks, the workshop, the carpentry shop, the Bunker, the slaughterhouse, the dairy and the building of the former Central Branch, today the Visitor and Environmental Education Center.
Most of the houses are separated by stone-paved paths; on the sides of the central street there are two rows of terraced buildings that extend towards the square with the church. Its timeless architecture makes Cala d'Oliva a true jewel of the Mediterranean.
The Royal
Central gate of the island, once This area was inhabited by the ancient inhabitants of the island  and after the expropriation the first was realized  hospital  of the Kingdom of Italy with the task of welcoming the crews of ships affected by infectious diseases  . Even today there are both showers and the various quarantine periods in addition to the hospital. also used in prison times  today it houses the park offices  and the Ministry of the Environment.
The impact upon arrival is striking with the building dominating behind the long granite pier connected by an imposing staircase. In the structure Behind the building
  there are  both the information center and the medical office. The road forks in two, north to Cala D'Oliva and south  towards Fornelli.
The Fornelli area  dominates with its plain in front of stintino  it can be reached by land from cala reale or by sea, disembarking at the pier of the same name. left  the Reception Center, near the pier, leads to the former maximum security prison under the 41 bis regime, an austere and quadrangular building of 8,000 square meters. The original structure, dating back to the end of the 19th century, was  modified by numerous interventions, however it still remains today  the double court system with the cells arranged in the long arms and the numerous internal spaces for the hour of air, which were continuously  once subjected to continuous surveillance. In front of the entrance  are still found  the  gardens  made between the years 1980 and 1981 by the inmates of the anonymous kidnappings, with flower beds in the shape of birds  anchors and stars, full of roses and red geraniums.

Marine flora and fauna

The morphological differences that characterize  the island of Asinara, determine a high variety of habitats

In particular, the low depth and slope of the eastern seabed and the milder weather-marine characteristics of this side favor the development of extensive  Posidonia oceanica meadows, which characterize it  this part of the island.
Posidonia is an endemic plant of the Mediterranean, made up of bundles of long leaves
  reunited. The leaves more  young ones are characterized by a light green color, while the older ones have a dark green hue. The rhizomes  deeply intertwined  they form particular structures called "matte", which can present particular morphologies due to the effect of the current. For this reason the prairies have a fundamental role against coastal erosion, because they solidify the incoherent seabed and limit the action of the waves.  thank you  the foliar apparatus and the barrier effect of mattes.
The consistency and structure of Posidonia meadows are considered quality indicators of coastal ecosystems due to their sensitivity towards
  various anthropogenic activities such as  pollution, coastal erosion, increased turbidity and mechanical action due to fishing and anchoring.
The posidonietti represent a
  high biodiversity, in which many  benthic and nectonic species,  they feed, grow and reproduce.
Among the rhizomes they can be found
  various communities typical of  deeper environments, such as sea cucumbers, sea stars  Fins nobilis etc etc  
  the ichthyofauna very rich and characterized by  several species, including seahorses, pipefish, wrasse,  salpe, sea bream, bogues and mullet.
There is a relevant one on the island
  presence of important species such as  the red alga Lithophyllum lichenoides and the giant patella Patella ferruginea. The first, included in the red list of protected species, is in sharp decline in many areas of the Mediterranean. Also  the Patella ferruginea is a highly threatened species, mainly due to the excessive collection. Here  there  Patella ferruginea is in good condition and often found  large individuals (up to 10 cm in width).
ili along the rocky bottoms, we find the species
  typical of the cliff. Among these, some play an economic role  particularly for fishing, as in the case of black corvines, snappers, white bream, sea bass, scorpion fish, etc etc. The lobster (Palinurus elephas) is finds itself  in the adult phase at depths between 15 and 100 meters inside  from  rocky ravines and less bottom  in the juvenile phase, during which it can be observed  also in the posidonia meadows. Along the north coast  and by now the presence of large specimens of brown grouper has been established, at depths less than those at which it is normally found in other areas outside the protected marine area. to report the important  presence of the sea cicada or magnosa (Scyllarides latus) which has been included in the list of protected species  as it is strongly threatened by indiscriminate collection, there are also other species such as  moray eels, conger eels and octopuses,   there  considerable presence in the waters of the Asinara island of dolphins and other cetaceans, including fin whales and sperm whales, have ensured that the area has been included  within the international project for the conservation of the pelagic fauna of the Mediterranean, called the Sanctuary of the Cetaceans.
Flora and vegetation
Asinara has suffered in recent years an intense use of resources by man, this use has  conditioned in particular the vegetal landscape. Especially in inland areas, where the island often and willingly  has been used  irrationally for agricultural, forestry and zootechnical uses, the territory has been partially degraded. It is not easy to be able to give a precise picture of the arboreal situation of the island: the botanical studies up to now have been fragmentary and not exhaustive, despite the great  the phytogeographic importance of many species and the extraordinary presence  of endemics. I study  Bocchieri turns out to be the most complete he has  reported nearly 700 botanical species and subspecies. The numerically most present families  they are the composites, the legumes  the grasses and umbellifers represent about half of the spontaneous flora of the island. from a landscape point of view e  very suggestive the variation of the colors that regularly change the face of the island  such as euphorbia which changes from green to yellow  and then turns red for then  to return  green to the following spring.



The Fauna
Fauna has also undergone profound changes in recent decades. Historical sources report a large number  presence of important species from a naturalistic point of view such as the mouflon, the Sardinian deer, the monk seal and the osprey. On the island today there are about  over 80 species of terrestrial vertebrates belonging to the Amphibian gods classes  Reptiles of the  Birds and Mammals. Despite all the  number does not give an idea of the importance of the island  internationally for the conservation and reproduction of the wildlife it boasts  several rare and endangered species. Among the endemic entities  more important can be remembered the luscengola, a curious scaled reptile, the beautiful one  Sardinian hare and the reddish crocidura .; among the Sardinian-Corsican species the small lizard, the dwarf algyroid and  the Sardinian barn owl, the wren and  the flycatcher and the blackhammer; in the Sardinian subspecies, the oak and the mouflon.
As for the incredible importance of the state of conservation
  can be reported:
-three vulnerable species: storm bird, Corsican gull and common tern;
- two species of indeterminate status: shearwater greater and shearwater lesser;
- seven rare species: mouflon, dwarf algyroid, Sardinian hare, common tortoise, tarantolino, peregrine falcon, crested cormorant;
-three insufficiently known: Sardinian discoglossus, Sardinian partridge and magpie.



Photo Veronica Pisu

Photo Veronica Pisu

The white donkey of Asinara
The white ass ... an inexplicable mystery,  the discovery of one of the creatures that most characterize the island, so much so as to hypothesize its toponymic origin, is the white donkey.  never defined with certainty,
has created over time an innumerable series of hypotheses, legends, myths, fantasies ... which see him descending from white donkeys imported from Egypt ... or from gray ones due to the appearance of the character of albinism ... or even shipwrecked from a vessel bound for France… the only one  what is certain is that this unique species in the world is the heritage, well, wealth of our island  .



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