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Barbagia, mountain land of shepherds, is divided in Barbagia di Ollobi (between Nuoro and Fonni) north of Gennargentu, Barbagia di Belvi (between Laconi and Aritzo), Barbagia di Seùlo (up to Campidano and Barbagia di Mandrolisai in the north western sector. The name comes from Latin Barbària (barbarian) name given by the Romans to the local people because of their reserved and proud character that was never completely subdued. Because of the territory’s roughness, entirely immerged in the Gennargentu and Supramonte area, Barbagia has always lived in isolation, a feature which has strongly shaped the more than reserved character of its people who have been able to preserve its traditions, culture and language, the latter being considered the purest in Sardinia. The local festivals are the best chance to enter this world made of magical paleo-christian atmosphere, such as the famous Carnevale di Mamoiada with the parade of the Mamuthones, men wearing frightening wooden masks and goatskin clothes. This land has also preserved its places and landscapes, as near Dorgali with the Gola di Su Gurroppu a canyon with over 200 mt high walls, and the Grotte di Ispinogoli where is the highest stalagmite in Italy (over 39 mt). Of outstanding naturalistic interest, the landscape of Supramonte south of Nuoro, a vast dolomitic calcareous plateau which reaches Orosei Gulf, includes the territories of Oliena, Orgosolo; Durgali, Urzulei and Baunei. From Oliena a village well known for its craftsmanship, you can reach the Sorgente di Su Gologone, the close by nuraghic sites of Sa Sedda’esos Carros and the famous Villaggio di Tiscali, built inside a cave.
Leaving on a slope on the eastern border of Barbagia di Ollolai, Orgosolo stands as the symbol of Barbagia’s culture, and murals painted by many artists starting from the second half of the 20th century, interpreting the conflict between modern culture and tradition, cover its buildings.
Walking about the streets, your attention can easily be drawn by the sight of the local women entirely dressed in black.
Fonni is the gate to the Gennargentu, at 1000 mt altitude, the highest commune of the island, dominated by La Marmora and Bruncu Spina. It’s both a summer and winter holiday resort, starting point of many mountain excursions.
At about 15 km there is Passo del Corno di Bue (1,235 mt) along S.S. 389 south west of Fonni that marks the border between Barbagia and Ogliastra. At 8 km south of Fonni there is Monte Spada, on the mountain’s western slope where there is a modern tourist resort with winter skiing facilities.
At the feet of Gennargentu lies Gavoi, a shepherd’s village, from where you can reach lake Gusana one of Sardinia’s most beautiful lakes. With a short detour from Gavoi you reach Ollolai, famous for its baskets, and then Tonara known for its excellent “torrone”, Belvi where you can admire woods where you can still see its craftsmen carving wood in the streets. In the Gennargentu of Arzana, many are the sites of naturalistic interest, among which the canyons made by the rivers flowing into the Flumendosa River, the Tassi di Tadderiddu woods, and the largest maple tree in Europe. From Arzana you can reach Punta La Marmora, as well as from Villagrande Strisaili. In Seni you must visit the enchanting foresta demaniale di Mantarbu with the nearby lake of the Alto Flumendosa, one of the most beautiful landscapes reached by the Trenino Verde (green train). Not far is Sadali with a beautiful historical centre and the Cascata di San Valentino and Grotte Janus.


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