Bosa is a town in the province of Oristano, Sardinia. Seen from a distance, the townscape resembles a canvas of rainbow colours with houses stacked steeply on the hillside overlooked by the castle. The town is divided by the River Temo where moored fishing boats reflect vibrantly and palm trees line its banks.
Bosa is about 40km south of Alghero and in comparison is small and compact. We went up late one morning for a bite to eat, a stomp around the alleyways and to see whether we could get into the castle.
The area around Bosa has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was probably founded by the Phoenicians and although little is known about the original settlement it is thought that it suffered repeated raids by Arab pirates.
The Malaspina family (a wealthy family from Tuscany) developed a town at the foot of the river in 1112. Now-a-days this location is called Bosa Marina and it’s approximately 2.5km from the current town of Bosa.
After the construction of the Malaspina Castle in the 12th century, the population gradually moved from the coast to the hills. The town remained in the hands of the Malaspina family until the 14th century when it was taken over by the House of Aragon. Along with the rest of Sardinia, it was later ruled by Spain via royal marriage.
The houses began to be built later at the foot of the castle for protection thus giving life to the birth of the medieval quarter now known as Sa Costa.
The ancient village called Sa Costa is located at the foot of the hill Serravalle and is dominated by the Malaspina castle. Many of the streets of the old town are accessible only by foot, given their narrowness.
Fiume Temo is Sardinia’s only navigable river. It can be traced for about 5km back to its source and meets the ancient ruins of a Roman bridge. Not far away is the Romanesque cathedral of St Peter which dates to 1062! We didn’t make it far though.
The estuary and village are still a working fishing port and during the heat of the day the boats are moored up. Get there at the right time and you can see the boats hauling in their catch.
The palm tree lined promenade to the west is where the Bosan population take their evening stroll. On the other bank are the remains of the tanneries that were active here until after the Second World War, today some are being restored and turned into restaurants. Bosa has a large number of restaurants which all seem to be thriving. Vegan food wasn’t easy to come across but we found lots of places willing to adapt their ingredients and menus for us. It can seem daunting to go in and ask, especially after our experience in France, but all of the chefs were happy to alter their dishes for us ‘fussy eaters’.
Fish in the river
Despite its green and sludgy appearance the river seemed to be in a healthy state with lots of fish.
Bosa has two bridges connecting each side, one which is more modern and houses all of the big supermarkets and new housing developments. One bridge is single lane traffic which causes a back log through the town itself and walking over the bridge was nerve racking, being so close to the cars but it’s a necessary evil to get photos with lovely reflections.
Historic town centre
The historic ‘Sa Costa’ district of the town is a maze of medieval streets, stone staircases and tall houses all nestled under the vigilant gaze of the Malaspina castle.
The main street
The main street of the town is called Corso Vittorio Emanuele and is cobbled (no surprise there) and flanked by tall 17th century multi-story buildings. It is not entirely pedestrianised although pedestrians litter the pavements and square built around it.
Lots of Sardinia’s producers seem to have these cute little three-wheeled carts for delivery.
Despite Bosa’s tiny size, there are a number of large churches and a cathedral. Goodness knows why such a small town needs so many.
I never go into churches because I find it difficult to tolerate religious sanctimony but on this occasion my youngest daughter asked to go into one. As we’re on a learning journey I can hardly say no, so we took her in. This is the Chiesa del Rosario.
We also had a very quick peak in another one as there seemed to be a procession… which turned out to be a funeral.
More cobbled streets and painted doorways
Bosa is old and elegant and many of the buildings have retained their old architecture but have been modernised with a lick of paint and new windows and doors.
The highlight of our trip to Bosa was visiting the castle! The hilltop castle of the Malaspinas has an unparalleled view of the town and out to sea. Within its walls is a church with fifteenth century frescoes, a Roman wall and wooden statue of Madonna and Child, which is carried in procession through the town during the festival of Regnos Altos in September.
We drove up from Bosa and parked nearby. The view over the town is spectacular.
Walking on the walls
Once we’d paid the entrance fee, which from memory might have been €6, we were given a fact sheet and allowed off to explore alone. A nice change from many places we’d visited.
What a view of Bosa from above! Pretty magnificent to see it from a height.
Video from the walls
From the outside the 14th century church doesn’t look like much but the drawings on the inside are worth a visit. They were discovered in the 1970s during restoration work.
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