The Land of White Donkeys – Asinara Island, Sardinia

The island of Asinara in Sardinia is a great destination for a walking holiday. It is on my “must-see” list not only because of the beautiful scenery. The island is home to beautiful white Asinara donkeys and I really have a soft spot for those creatures.

According to some historians, the four-legged “blondes” were brought on the island from Egypt in the 17th century. The donkeys liked Asinara and made it their home. Today there are less than 100 of them on the island and they are classified as a “breed of limited distribution”. A few of them can also be found near Alghero and in Burgos.

asinara donkeys

Photo by Allevamento Santa Lucia

asinara donkeys1

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

In old days, the Asinara donkeys were used for at mills for flour and at oil presses. Today they roam the island free, most of them are shy but some are brave enough to approach humans. One of the seven walking and cycling routes on the island is called “The path of The White Donkey” and goes through the area where the animals are less timid and watch the visitors with curiosity.


Photo by papera2007/Flickr

Asinara had an eventful past: Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens have used it for different purposes. Prehistoric dwellings, medieval ruins as well as ruins of a World War I prison camp can still be seen here. In the 70s the island accommodated a detention facility for terrorists and mafia members.

In 1997 Asinara became a national park and tourists are brought to the island by authorised boats and tour companies. Swimming is permitted only in the designated areas and no private boats are allowed to dock there.


Photo by rivertay07/Flickr


Photo by rivertay07/Flickr

Walking is not recommended during the hot months of July and August as the vegetation is low on the island and there are not many places with cool shade. A full list of walking and cycling routes (in Italian) can be found on the Asinara National park website.

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