Barbagia is what the Romans called this region. They did not succeed in truly invading this wild and unforgiving area in the center of Sardinia, shielded by mountains and its proud and independent people, real “barbarians” in the eyes of those boorish conquerors.
Even today, the people there are proud of their identity though, while maintaining the purity of their ancestral tradition, they have become more welcoming and hospitable. Wild and unforgiving has remained this piece of the universe which holds a thousand-and-one surprises to be discovered. The landscape is impressive. To one side stands the massif of Gennargentu with mount Supramonte of Orgosolo and Urzulei which lays a spell over the surroundings, with its white, calcareous mass, speckled with age-old juniper forests.
In the valley, the wall of Su Gorropu strechtes out, the deepest canyon in Europe.
The countryside offers you the site of endless woods of cork oak, offering shaded rest to the sheep at noon.
Nuoro is the regional capital, the birth place to writers and artists at the start of the twentieth century.
One can find appreciation for them at the museums dedicated to them in their former homes: the childhood home of Grazia Deledda, Nobel prize for literature winner in 1926, and the museum named after the sculptor Francesco Ciusa, winner of the Vienna Biennale in 1907 with the famous sculpture “mother of the slain man”. To understand the ethnic essence of the Sardinians, a visit to the museum of the costume is indispensable.
Around Nuoro lies the triangle of land between the towns of Oliena, Orgosolo, and Mamoiada, full of blooming vineyards where the local Cannonau grape grows. Various great variations of this wine are made here, both at the cooperative cellars and by commercial producers: in Oliena, the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio called it Nepente, “black wine”, after the Homeric kind, which was strong enough to chase away one’s woes. Mamoiada is the town of the Mamuthones, ritual personae who scare the observer with their clothes of animal hide, their dark wooden masks, the thundering sound of the bells they carry on their backs. Worthwhile is a visit to the museum of the Mediterranean mask. Orgosolo, once sadly known for its bandits, today attracts visitors from all over the world to admire the murals which adorn the houses and streets of this timeless town.
Oliena boasts a lofty history, as well as one of the prettiest costumes of the island. At a few kilometers from the town, the source of Su Gologone is an oasis of tranquility and the restaurant/hotel de charme Su Gologone is capable of offering a unique experience and emotions to whomever is interested in authentic foods and arts.