The grain route
The Roman domination of Sardinia covered a period of more than 1,000 years, starting in 238 B.C.
The Porto Conte area became a strategic site of communications and played host to a number of Roman settlements.
In particular, the Sant’Imbenia district was the site of a junction on the western Sardinian road running from Turris Libissonis (today’s Porto Torres) southwards towards Karalis (today’s Cagliari), across the route linking Nure, Barax (Porto Ferro and Baratz), Porto Conte, Rada di Alghero and Bosa.
The coast of Sant’Imbenia was awash with villas and hamlets, and played host to a heterogeneous mix of merchants, holidaymakers and sailors.
Stretching away behind the gulf were the great wheat fields, which were worked by slaves and paid freemen, who lived within a large and highly active community.
The remains of the Roman buildings and burial grounds attest to the scale of this settlement.
Villa Augustea, suspended between land and sea
The best-preserved Roman remains are those of the large villa-farm on the beach
of Sant’Imbenia, in Porto Conte. Situated on the road that leads to Capo Caccia,
the villa – which dates from the Augustan period – is constructed from Roman brick, and several rooms are decorated with polychromatic mosaics featuring Paleochristian symbols.
Large and complex, the villa includes a residential zone and a wing dedicated to productive activities, complete with stores and rooms for the workers.
Part of the villa is today submerged due to sea level variations.
Where the sea meets the lagoon: the bridge over the Lagoon Calic
From Porto Conte, the Roman road that ran along the western side of Sardinia from Turris to Sulci passed near to what is today the town of Fertilia by means of a bridge at the confluence of the sea and the lagoon.
The bridge, made from square sandstone blocks and originally featuring 24 arches, was almost completely rebuilt during the Middle Ages.
While the bridge’s Roman structural footprint remains intact, 10 of the original arches were demolished in the 1930s to allow access by dredging equipment as part of land reclamation projects.