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The Asinara Island is a National Park and Marine Protected Area. Those who want to visit the Asinara Island by boat should familiarise themselves with the restrictions for navigation in its waters.

As it is not possible to anchor along the east coast and Fornelli, several buoy fields have been prepared.

From south to north, the buoy fields are:

  • Fornelli
  • Cala Reale
  • Cala Barche Napoletane
  • Cala Ponte Bianco
  • Cala d’Oliva

To reserve the buoys, it is necessary to contact the Agency Cormorano Marina manager, tel +39 079 512290 or +39 348 6913528.

In this map you can see the limitations of the Marine Protected Area.

For any further information, please visit the website of the Parco Nazionale dell'Asinara

First, it is essential to examine the limitations concerning the Marine Protected Area, which are of 3 levels: zone A, zone B, zone C.

Zone A: Integral reserve > Access and any type of activity is not allowed

Zone B: General reserve > Engine navigation is forbidden (also for tenders, except under special circumstances). Sailing, rowing or using electric units is allowed. The use of watercraft is forbidden. No fishing. No anchoring. Mooring in buoy fields is permitted, however they must be booked and paid for. Bathing, snorkelling, and diving with a guide are allowed.

Zone C: partial reserve > Anchoring, fishing and the use of watercraft are prohibited. Sailing, rowing, engine navigation, bathing, snorkelling, and diving with a guide are allowed. Mooring in buoy fields is permitted. The only buoy field inside Area C is Fornelli.

The coasts are very jagged, and the territory is mostly mountainous. The west side has steep, rocky slopes. The east side is low and rocky, with beaches located in Fornelli, Sant'andrea, Cala Reale, Trabuccato, Punta Sabina and Cala Arena.

On the east side you will find the village of Cala d'oliva, a quaint village of small white houses where the agents of the penitentiary police and their families lived during the years that the prison was in operation.

To the south, you will find the port of Cala Reale, where there are remains of what was originally a Lazzaretto (a place of recovery for ship’s crew members that were suffering from infectious diseases). This area was also used as a royal residence for the Savoy. The territory is mostly rocky, and the vegetation is composed of shrubs of the Mediterranean Maquis: mastic, wild olive, spurge and juniper. There is a forest of oaks, located in the locality of Elighe Mannu.

The fauna has changed a lot in recent decades. Historical sources document the presence of important species such as the mouflon, the sardinian deer, the hedgehog, the sardinian hare, the wild boar, the monk seal and the osprey. There are also cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses. A unique species is the white donkey of Asinara: this species is characterized by the white colour of the mantle, which is a form of albinism.

Currently, there are approximately 120 species living on the island. The bird species of the island have been studied for over 15 years with census and tracking to study their migratory flow.

The discovery of many Domus de Janas (houses of fairies) shows that the island has been inhabited since the Proto-Nuragic era. It is also certain that the island was inhabited by the Romans, due to the presence of the nearby colony of Turris Libissonis, today's Porto Torres. Archaeologists have found numerous fragments of tiles and amphorae, and, recently, a short distance from the coast in the bay of Cala Reale, a relic of the roman era, which is visible to a few meters of depth. Towards the middle of the XVIII, families of fishermen and shepherds, coming from Liguria, Piemonte and Greece, settled on the island. In 1842 the island became part of the new Municipality of Porto Torres. However, in 1885, when the Italian government decided to establish the Lazzaretto and the agricultural penal colony, Asinara was expropriated.

Some of the inhabitants, forced to leave the island, settled in the countryside surrounding Porto Torres, while others founded the village of Stintino. In the early seventies, in Fornelli, the government built the maximum-security Prison, which housed members of the mafia, Red Brigades and other people linked to organized crime. In 1997 the prison closed and Asinara became a National Park.

Asinara National Park

When the prison was closed, the government established a National Park on the island. There are several ways to visit it:

  • Renting a bike
  • Booking a guided tour in a Jeep
  • Renting an electric car (for two people)
  • Using the shuttle bus
  • Using the tourist train (the train departs from and returns to Fornelli. It only makes one tour per day and is useful for tourists who come daily with the tourist boats)
  • For more info, go to the site:

In Asinara island you will find many small buildings where people working in the prison used to live. Many of these buildings have begun to deteriorate. There are also two large buildings, the prisons of Fornelli and Cala d'oliva.

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