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Church of San Gemiliano

The church dedicated to San Gemilioano is in Arbatax, on a headland 31 metres above sea level, near the coast tower of the same name. For Sardinia, it is a rare example of a country church built close to the sea (fig. 1).

Fig. 1 - The church of San Gemiliano (photo Unicity S.p.A.).

The small church was completely rebuilt in the XX century replacing the ancient one which could have been dated to the XVI century. It stands on an embankment sustained by a reinforced concrete wall and overlooks a large panoramic terrace over the bay of Porto Frailis (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 - The church (in the red circle) and the coastal tower of San Gemiliano overlooking the bay of Porto Frailis (photo Unicity S.p.A.).

The religious building, entered up a staircase, is rectangular in shape, 20.60 metres long, 6.50 wide and 4 high. It has a gabled roof and a facade surmounted by a brick bell-gable with a cross on it. There is a circular opening over the entrance (circular window, fig. 3).

Fig. 3 - The facade of the church of San Gemiliano (photo Unicity S.p.A.).

The interior, a single chamber, has a presbytery area that is slightly raised over the earthenware tiled floor. In 2009, the wall behind the altar was decorated with a pink trachyte structure holding a carved bas-relief of San Gemiliano (fig. 4).

Fig. 4 - The church interior (photo Unicity S.p.A.).

The statue portraying San Gemiliano is kept in the church of Sant’Andrea in Tortolì and is carried to the country church during the religious feast dedicated to the saint (fig. 5).

Fig. 5 - The statue of San Gemiliano kept in the church of S. Andrea in Tortolì (photo Unicity S.p.A.).


  • M. CLAUSI, I.3.19 Chiesa di San Gemiliano, in ARCHEO SYSTEM. I Reperti, Milano 1990, pp. 63-64.
  • F. COCCO, Talana, Tertenia, Tortolì, Triei, Ulassai, Urzulei, Villagrande Strisaili, Villaputzu, in Dati relativi alla storia dei paesi della diocesi d’Ogliastra, II, Cagliari 1986, p. 92; 95; 143.
  • V. ANGIUS, Dizionario Geografico, Storico, Statistico, Commerciale degli stati di Sua Maestà il Re di Sardegna, Torino 1833, p. 74.