Girasole in the past meant "Land of the Rising" and has a history of over 2000 years. Originally called Sulci orientale, over the centuries has changed its name from time to time becoming Gelisoi, Kurasole e and during the Spanish reign Girasol. Currently the village which is one among the most important in the Ogliastra for its long history, is called Gelisuli in the local dialect.
Archaeological excavations, carried out in 1966 in the hills north of the village, in the ancient castle of Medusa, have unearthed remains of buildings in large blocks, laid dry, repeating the building typology of Punic buildings of Sant'Antioco attributable to a Carthaginian construction, dated between the fourth and third century B.C., with each probably in turn preceded by an older Phoenician building.
Phoenicians and Carthaginians made the ancient Sulci an important seasonal stop in the routes to the western Italian coasts becoming, over time, a permanent port located near the lagoon. The presence of defensive constructions seem the inevitable consequence to protect the port from the assaults of Sardis of the territories of the inland areas of the island. The development of the port continued even under the Roman ruling, that made it an important starting point for the commercial traffic in the Mediterranean.
At the center of the Ogliastra valley, Girasole is a small village at 8 meters above sea level, in the middle of an unexplored land, with a territory occupying a small area of only 13 sq km. The population of the small village is of 926 inhabitants, up sharply in recent years due to the increasing flow of tourists in the area.
The central location of Girasole in the fascinating Ogliastrine territory allows you to stay in accommodation in the country, both to learn about its history and traditions and to visit the wild places of great natural interest in the surroundings. Only one kilometer far from the sea and surrounded by pine trees that reach up to the beach of Isula Manna, the village is bordered to the north-east by the town of Lotzorai, from which it is separated by the Rio Girasole, in the Iscrixedda area, to the north-west with Villagrande. Great and charming views characterize the stay in Girasole: in addition to the white sand beach and the crystal-clear blue waters, there are many areas of natural interest as the pond once called Ogliastra, ideal habitat for many birds that nest undisturbed in its waters and where you can take birdwatching routes. The vegetation in the area is typical of the Mediterranean, with a huge prevalence of shrubs such as heather, wild olive trees, bushes and fragrant herbs.
Thanks to its location along the Eastern Sardinian, Girasole can be easily reached, not only from all parts of Sardinia, but also from the peninsula from the port of Arbatax 3 Km away.
The second Sunday after Easter, on 18 and 19 April, there is the festival of Sant'Antioco Martire, organized by a committee of young people, in collaboration with the Association Pro Loco. In particular, Sunday evening is dedicated to the procession with the statue of the saint martyr travelling the village, also animated by folk groups and by the knights. The magnificent amphitheater of Girasole is the perfect setting to the shows for youngsters.
In the town of Girasole the most expected festival is the one dedicated to the patron, la Madonna di Monserrato, celebrated on September 8 th each year. On the day of the celebration, in addition to the procession and the solemn mass, there is an exhibition of traditional costumes and riders; the population participates in religious rituals and in folklore shows, music and traditional dances. The parish with simple and basic shapes, built between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, is dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat and is located in the town.
Another successful event of the Ogliastrin territory is the Festival of Folklore and Hospitality held in Girasole on August 12 th and 13 th each year: music, dances and cultures from Sardinia and the international scene animate the impressive amphitheater of the village.
The main and unmissable specialties are culurgiones , ravioli with different fillings and a recognizable spike-shaped closing, in Sardinian sa spighitta, emblem of the Ogliastrin territory.