Skilled hands embroider clothes and rugs on frames, make su filendeu and other traditional pasta and decorate su pani pintau, those of sos maistos carefully craft ceramic vases, add intarsia to arresolzas and create filigree jewels. In the kitchen of the cortes su carasau are slipped into the oven and pan’e saba, pistiddu and durchicheddos are stuffed. Woodworkers cut the wood to build sas cascias, ironmongers skilfully hammer their wares, farmers crush freshly harvested grapes and shepherds make ricotta cheese. Meanwhile, guests leaning out over the belvedere sample tasty nibbles with full-bodied wine. And they chat to craftsmen, learning about the traditions of the past. Autumn in Barbagia is a trip into the “heart” of Sardinia, an itinerant exhibition of authentic traditions of the Barbagia area. For four months, weekends will see cultural, artisanal traditions and local food and wine showcased. All within the houses “a corte” in villages and towns. Each community with its own speciality.
One starts at Bitti, the homeland of canto a Tenore, a UNESCO heritage. Here the Nuragic civilisation built a unique monument: the sanctuary-village su Romanzesu. One then moves onto Oliena: its warm hospitality will take you to discover places that are preserved in time and old churches, textiles and filigree jewellery, pecorino and Nepente. At Dorgali the mountains of the Supramonte meet the crystal-clear water of the coastal village of Cala Gonone: you will discover an exceptional variety of landscapes and attractions. During the same days, Sarule is also on show, famous for its fine colourful rugs. Then Austis, a town where the skills and traditions of neighbouring areas meet, and Orani, the land of skilled artisans, great artists and intellectuals. Closing one month and opening another, there are Lula, lying at the feet of the huge chalky Monte Albo, the site of prehistoric treasures, industrial archaeology and ancient places of worship, and Tonara, the village of nougat and cowbells (sonaggias), a place to enjoy walks in age-old woods.
Nestled between mountains and the lake of Gusana, Gavoi is village of artisanal tradition. Writers and artists perform on the balconies of its stone houses during the Island of Stories festival. Meana Sardo, a village with arched front doors and Spanish-style window frames, is full of legends on the janas. At Onanì there is an architectural oddity: next to the Santu Pretu nuraghe, the church of San Pietro was built in the 11th century. From mid-October, it is the turn of the natural wonders of Orgosolo: the su Suercone chasm and the canyon Gorropu. Murales decorate its houses, creating an open-air museum. An aura of mystery and surreal silence hover over Lollove, which has inspired many great writers. At Sorgono, you will discover the extraordinary line of menhirs of Biru e’ Concas. The immense natural heritage of Belvì unfolds between chalky tacchi and Gennargentu. The Trenino Verde – the Green Train – runs through here, stopping at the ancient station of the village of is caschettes, delicious cakes for brides. October ends with the fairy-tale landscapes of Aritzo, with woods of chestnuts and carapigna (a delicious sorbet), and with Ottana, the village of Boes and Merdules, another place that is famous for its artisanal traditions.
Desulo inaugurates the month of November, that excels in textile craftsmanship, especially finely embroidered shawls. At Mamoiada you will enjoy the intense scent of the vines: it is the land of wine, that will share with you the ancestral rites of Mamuthones and Issohadores. On foot, riding bicycles or on horseback, you will discover the paths of the shepherds. A town symbolising culture and tradition, Nuoro is the Athens of Sardinia. You will enjoy a cultural itinerary around the town's museums, overlooked by monte Ortobene. At Tiana, genuine products and a sense of community contribute to a healthy and lengthy life. It is famous for its mills and fulling-mills where orbace, Sardinian coarse woollen cloth, is made. In mid-November it is the turn of the architectural jewels of the village of graduates, Olzai: at the beginning of the 20th century the percentage of illiterate inhabitants was particularly low, and the number of graduates high. And then the colours and light of Atzara. Hiding in a labyrinth of alleys, you will find medieval houses with façades sculpted by sos picapedres. You gaze onto endless vineyards and cherry trees that have inspired many artists. To finish November, Orotelli, the land of sos cambales, traditional handmade leather boots, and Ollolai, that according to legend was the abode of Hospito, the king of Barbagia (6th century). Admire its asphodel baskets woven by local women, and s’istrumpa, a form of wrestling perhaps of Nuragic origin.
The Nuragic monuments, the sanctuary of Abini and the village s’Urbale have made Teti famous. It was here that the sleeping Venus was found, one of the oldest Sardinian works of art. The wealth of Funtana Raminosa lies behind the history of Gadoni: the Nuragic civilisation extracted copper here, the Cartaginians and the Romans created mines that were re-used in modern times. Following the paths, surrounded by mountains and forests, you will discover magical sights such as the small s’Istiddiosa waterfall. At Oniferi you will be impressed by the popular tradition of canto a tenore that ranges from religious solemnity to romantic melancholy. For the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, it is time to turn to the highest village on the island, Fonni, a ski resort where each season has a distinctive colour: peonies, dog roses and purple foxglove frame autumn. The hydraulic engineering of Gremanu and the necropolis of Madau are the main Nuragic sites. Over the same period the Mui Muscas park, the kingdom of the Sardinian ass, shines in Ortueri, and the very tall bell tower of the church of San Nicolò. The tour ends at Orune, with its cork harvest and an extraordinary concentration of prehistoric sites, including the spectacular Nuragic sacred well su Tempiesu, and at Ovodda: untouched nature, clean air and a healthy climate make this the “village of centenarians”. A Roman road and the paths of transhumance tell of a place that has always seen populations travel.