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Another world, 18 km from Olbia by car.
San Pantaleo, in certain respects, evokes a village in the Dolomites. Witness a panoramic view which resembles the Far West, at the three peaks of Sant'Andrea, Pelchia Manna and Pelchia Minori.
Passing the crossroads for the Costa Smeralda, one ascends along the hills of Milmegghju, and then, embedded in the granite formations, suddenly the village materializes.
There are many rustic buildings in this area rich in waterways and forests on the old roman road between Olbia and Tibula.
The natural founts and the richness of the water remain, justifiably, one of the attractions of the area: historically known in the zone as "the fount of Beddoro", it constituted an island of well-being and salubrious health in a relatively untouched and unpopulated area. The village, like today, grew up thanks to the initiative of the inhabitants of the 'stazzi' in the area which, at the end of the nineteenth century, in 1894, requested of the bishop of Tempio the creation of a parish as a religious and social reference point.
The church proper was erected in 1903, in the same place it still stands today. There are also the remains of an antique cemetery, now abandoned. Strategically, San Pantaleo is situated on a raised platform, overlooking on one side the road for "Monti di Mola" (the current Costa Smeralda), and on the other, the road from Arzachena to Baja Sardinia. A dominant position, therefore, to keep a vigil on the coast.
Despite its detached geographical position, and relative distance, the story of San Pantaleo appears to always be in some way connected to the "smeraldine" beaches: Portisco, Rena Bianca, Razza di junco.
Starting from the 1970's then, a group of artists and painters populated the village, attracted by its atmosphere, removed from the world of the coast, and absolutely informal.
Artists, painters and sculptors, arrived here from England, from Germany, from Scandinavia and from France, and they caused San Pantaleo to develop a sort of bohemian feel. Next to the foreigners, a group of Gallurese craftsman are located here, and they are highly sought after for their products.
Crafted from natural materials: wood, beaten iron and other metals, but also terracotta and ceramic. The unique works by these craftsmen have gone to decorate the villas in the area, but have also been acquired by tourists. Their names, by now known on the peninsula and abroad, are: the Solinas brothers, for items in beaten iron, seated in the "Bottega del Ferro" in via Molise (tel. 0789 65414 / 65215). Another is Tonino Dettori, who works in wood. Dettori has become celebrated for his priceless chests and tables, but also simple bedside tables, thanks to the art of intaglio (tel. 0789 65379). Also ceramics are represented in this tradition of hand-made artifacts: thanks to the small but precious products of "Petra Sarda" (tel. 0789 65317 / 65444), opened 30 years ago by the baroness Milliken Franchetti. The material used is gres. A type of clay, very resistant, baked at very high temperatures to create little objects like vases and containers which are then painted and decorated. Those seeking an input into the creative process should contact Pat Steele (tel. 0789 65220). An English painter, native to Cornwall, but by now naturalized in Gallura, Steele paints naïf subjects, though not exclusively, and can provide a window into the world of these artisans. The other great treasure of San Pantaleo, besides its natural beauty and its people, are certain restaurants, agriturismos and B&Bs.
Perhaps because of the pleasant nature of the place itself, this part of Gallura is overflowing with opportunities to acquaint oneself with the local cuisine. Most especially, the road which descends toward Arzachena and Baia Sardinia offers many such occasions to the visitor . A stay in the village can be pleasant at any time of year. The rural festivals are all dedicated to the saints who protect the zone: next to San Pantaleo, we find the celebration dedicated to San Salvatore in the nearby settlement of Monti Canaglia, San Martino is celebrated on the mountain of Cugnana, San Michele and finally San Chiara.
Often, in these affairs, it is customary to offer a meal to anyone participating in the religious rites. Probably the most important festival is held at the end of August. On this occasion, besides the religious celebration, San Pantaleo offers tourists a series of events that make it a small but characteristic holiday capital. Market stalls, street markets, but also shows and exhibitions. Most important of all, a classical dance show is hosted right in the central square. The show, known as "La Grande Danza", in the course of the last ten years here in Gallura, has attracted characters and protagonists from the international dance scene. All of the above, therefore, helps to explain why the village has been, in the last few years, at the centre of a building and property boom: the quality of life, the traditions, and the strategic position all help us to understand its success but cannot alone explain the good fortune of the little village.