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the island of sparrowhawks

There is a path leading to the western shore of the island. The walk is long, you had better go there by bicycle or on horseback, but the emotion is great: it crosses one of the Europe’s last Mediterranean forests, surrounded by plants of heather, mastic tree and rosemary, catching sight here and there of myrtle leaves, wild rabbits and Aleppo pines. These are the same high and solid pines that the ancient Romans used to build the masts of their ships, and it is thanks to them that on San Pietro Island a class of excellent carpenters was formed, who would even be praised by Admiral Horatio Nelson as the “best in the Mediterranean”.

After you get over this extraordinary rich green scrub area – characterized, amongst other plants, by the endemic sea astragalus (i.e. milk-vetch), a real botanical rarity - the west coast is revealed to us. This is very different from the low beaches that characterize Carloforte, with salt marshes populated with flamingos, herons and black-winged stilts.

From Punta delle Oche (Cape of Geese) to the Columns, there is a very high, continuous and steep basalt wall falling sheer to the sea, with a succession of caves and cliffs that end on the south with the so-called Columns. These two towers of magmatic rock draw the attention of tourists, but they were even higher and more spectacular in the past. The reference point of the west coast is the lighthouse of Capo Sandalo, Italy’s most western lighthouse, which has dominated this harsh shore since 1864, where you can admire one of Europe's rarest birds: Eleonora’s Falcon (aka The Queen’s Hawk).

Every year, from April onwards, hawks come from the eastern African coasts to mate and lay their eggs on the steep cliffs of the island, where they hatch them, then take care of the growth of the chicks and finally prepare them for their long flight back to the African coasts in late summer.

The presence of the Eleonora’s Falcon, named in honour of the woman judge Eleonora d'Arborea, who used it for hunting, is evidenced by ancient remains on the island, so much so that it was the Greek astronomer Ptolemy to define San Pietro “Hierakon Nesos”, i.e. the “Island of the Sparrowhawks”.

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Hotel Ristorante Hieracon 4 stelle | P.Iva 01436850927 | Carloforte, Corso Cavour 62 | 09014 Isola di San Pietro, Carbonia-Iglesias (CI)
Tel (+39) 0781854028 | Fax (+39) 0781854893 | Booking Reservations and Information hotelhieracon@libero.it


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