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Sardinian holidays: discovering Barbagia
Barbagia could be called “the other” Sardinia for a couple of reasons. First, because it is much different from the worldwide known tourist Sardinia, tied to crystal blue sea and international jet set tourism; but also because it still preserves the traditions kept along the years.
As the coast zones of Sardinia were strongly influenced by tourism traffic, the hinterland have always tried to preserve their roots at their best.
These characteristics make Barbagia a very interesting area to be visited not only for these anthropological reasons, but also for the richness of its wine and food and for its nature that is still so wild and virgin.
Day 1 – LEAVING THE SEA BEHIND
The best airport to land to visit Barbagia is Olbia Costa Smeralda airport. Just pick the car you rented and head to the hinterland for about 100 km.
While waiting for the hotel check-in time, you can stop along the road in Posada village – one of the oldest inhabited Sardinian villages – and visit the Fava castle in its historic center. From above the castle you have a wide panorama over the region of Posada and its beach that won again the 5 flags for uncontaminated and clean sea.
Continue the road, heading to Nuoro. Along the road, you will be able to observe a change in spontaneous vegetation and landscape. It is difficult to describe these differences with words, but when you see it you understand what it is about.
In Nuoro you can visit Grazia Deledda Museum, dedicated to the only Italian woman who won the Nobel literature prize, in 1926.
Finally arrival at the hotel and, surrounded by the mountain atmosphere, just take a bath in the swimming pool if the weather allows it, otherwise a hydro massage in the spa of the hotel, just to relax from the road trip.
Dinner at the hotel and a digestive liquor in the veranda outside, facing the Supramonte Mountain.
DAY 2 – OLIENA
After the typical hotel breakfast, go for a walk to visit Su Gologone spring. Beautiful canyon with green and deep water. It is said that a scuba diver reached 30 meters in deep without finding the bottom of this gorge. This spring is fed by subterranean rivers that come from other parts of Sardinia.
Then it is time to take the car and go to the village to know a little about it. Oliena was the dearest village of Grazia Deledda, where she used to go often. It is in the heart of Barbagia, it is known for Nepente wine and has 11 churches to be visited. It recently received the Orange flag from Touring Club.
Just take a walk along the narrow streets where you can see the thousands-years old also through the filigrana (local artisanal way to work gold), wood inlay work and weaving.
Just have lunch in one of the many good agritourism (local typical rural restaurants that serve their own produced food) around, finishing the meal with the local filu ‘e ferru, typical Sardinian grappa.
Then it is time to head towards Orgosolo, another important centre of Barbagia that became known for its murals (paintings on the village walls) that are supposed to be more than 150.
If you have not drunk too much grappa and there is still daylight, visit the nuragic village of Or Murales, with 50 round rock shacks from the Bronze Age.
In the evening, just relax at the hotel drinking the local Cannonau followed by the local digestive liquor made of mirto, a local plant, maybe outside observing the stars.
Day 3 – THE STARS DURING THE DAY
Breakfast and mountain shoes for a special tour to the big European Canyon, Su Gorropu. This deep canyon was created by Flumineddu River between Orgosolo and Urzulei.
Fortunately, it is a tour that quite everyone can do, with a minimal training level, because it is one of those unforgettable places.
This Sardinian canyon is 14 km long and reaches differences in height of 800 m. Their vertical cliffs are higher than 400 m.
The legends old people tell regarding this place are very interesting. Some say that in certain points of Gorropu it is possible to see the stars during the day.
Another legend says that in the past the place was inhabited by “Sa Tentazione” (The Temptation), where people went to sell the own soul for mundane richness.
The tour conclusion coincides with the shepherd’s lunch, where they prepare their local and own food as goat cheese, cold cuts, ricotta cheese and roasted pork. All served with their own wine Cannonau.
People with a little more physical skills can also visit Tiscali, about 2 and a half hour by foot to reach this unique Sardinian settlement built inside a cavern. Millions of years ago, during an Earthquake, this cavern collapsed and gave birth to a crater man used as refuge, building small houses with rocks and mud inside of it.
Return to the hotel and have a massage to relax before dinnertime.
DAY 4 – THE HIGHEST STALACTITE OF EUROPE
After the tasty Sardinian breakfast with local recipes, just check out from the hotel and drive to Dorgali, to visit Ispinigoli Grotto.
Here you can admire the highest stalactite in Europe, 30 meters high. The grotto is one of the most beautiful ones in Sardinia. It is easy to be visited as its spaces are wide and do not disturb people who hardly tolerate narrow spaces.
Depending on your flight schedule you can visit Dorgali and buy some Sardinian filigrana for some dear ones.
The road slowly leaves behind the Barbagia unique panorama. It is time to go back home, but with a little piece of Sardinia in the heart. That is for sure.
Ana Maria Vasconcellos