A "pall" of unease and mystery hangs over Lollove, the place that time forgot, included in the club of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It will wrap around you as you wander through steep, narrow, cobbled alleyways and grey stone houses clinging to the sides of a hill, from the top of which you can catch a panorama over the whole valley. Only a few homes remain intact and many are in ruins, with sloping, clay-tiled rooves where they remain, windows with vases of flowers and architraves over the doorways. Inside, each home has its fireplace and wood-burning oven. The atmosphere allows you to imagine how the village must have been when it was still populated, as life continued at the slow pace of nature and the hard work of the vineyard. Now, a surreal silence reigns, evoking ancient stories. The old people who remain tell how one or more "penitent" Franciscan nuns from the old convent in Via Bixio, run by the late-Gothic old parish church of Santa Maria Maddalena, were accused of carnal relations with the local shepherds. Once the scandal broke, the nuns were shamed by their sisters and forced to leave the convent. As they left, they put a curse on the village: "Lollove, you will be like the water of the sea, you will never again grow or appear to grow!". The curse came true: the village has always stayed small, although it never quite disappeared thanks to the strong will of the few inhabitants left, who dedicated themselves to agriculture. In the 20th century, the village fascinated and inspired artists and writers: Grazia Deledda set her novel "La madre" (1920) here, about the forbidden love between a young priest and a pretty girl named Agnese, picking up on the sinful and dark aura of the village.
The oldest inhabitants claim that Loy (the Aragonese name of the village up until the 19th century) was founded before and was once larger than Nuoro. They are referring to the Middle Ages, when it was the largest of the many villages in the valley between the River Cedrino and the River Sologo. It was classed as a municipality up until the mid-19th century, and is now the only village under the capital. In 1950, it had a population of more than 400; today only 26 remain. It opens to visitors and comes to life for religious festivals: for the old patron saint Maria Maddalena (late July), the current patron saint San Biagio (early February), San Luigi dei Francesi (late August) and Sant'Eufemia (mid-September): the last three are healing saints, visited by pilgrims hoping for a miracle. The village also comes to life in November, for the Vivilollove, part of the Autunno in Barbagia event, when craft skills that were once part of daily life, such as bread-making and cooking, are on display. During the rest of the year, the only sounds are far-off voices, goats, horses and cats. There is no doctor, school or post office, no shops or bars. Electricity only arrived here in the late 20th century. There is the small parish church of San Biagio, decorated by a pink trachyte rosette and doorway, but no resident priest (one travels in from the capital every Sunday). It is not a ghost town only because a few people still live here, and the atmosphere is exactly that of the rural villages in medieval central Sardinia.