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The soil on the Giara was formed by the deterioration of the lava rock. It is quite fertile and good for pasture but because the top soil is very thin it is not suitable for cultivation.
Is zepparas (the mountains)
The only relieves on the Giara are two volcanic craters which can still be easily seen: sa Zepparedda which is 609 meters high with a crater opening that is still visible and sa Zeppara Manna, 580 meters high which is shaped like a volcanic cone. From its top, looking north east, one can see the Gennargentu of Aritzo, looking south-west the plain of the Campidano of Oristano is clearly visible, while Monte Arci dominates the view in the direction of Oristano. The view of the surrounding landscape includes the hills of Marmilla, Sarcidano and Trexenta. On a good day one can see as far as Laconi.
Is scalas (steep paths)
The sides of the plateau which are not protected by the hard basaltic blanket that covers the top have been subjected to erosion and landslides over the millennia. For this reason through the centuries steep paths have been formed. These paths which in the local language are called is scalas were the only way to gain access to the Giara.
Sa roja and is paulis (marshes)
In the center of the plateau there is a depression in the ground (sa Roja) which originally may have been a crack in the ground which was covered by the basaltic flow. This depression runs at right angles to the two relieves.
Is Paulis are quite large deep depressions where both rain and water from springs collect. They are scattered throughout the plateau and have a notable influence on the landscape. In the summer is paulis are covered by water buttercups. The two largest marshes, Pauli Majori and Pauli Murdegu, are often completely covered by these flowers until July.
In late summer the color which dominates on the Giara is yellow. The plain dries out and becomes dusty. The herds of horses and cattle gather to drink and pasture around those paulis which have not yet become dry holes.
However even in the hottest of summers the springs (is mitzas) continue to gush life giving fresh water.
photos from the top:
- Panoramic view (P. Rinaldi)
- A pauli (M. Vacca)