A welcoming place, full of history in which the great Nuragic civilization lifted up the wonderful monuments of the village-sanctuary Romanzesu, one of the major archaeological centers of the entire Island, and where they settled the ancient Balari which challenged the powerful Roman Empire.
All around the area there are numerous prehistoric evidence: domus de janas and menhir (called in Sardinian perdas fittas i.e. ‘set stones’) telling a story that dates back to the Neolithic Age while the nuraghic civilization started from the Bronze Age of which are preserved the towers, the scenographic burials, called “giants tombs”, in addition to the mysterious and fascinating sacred buildings.
The origins of the urban center probably date back to a Roman mansio (layover station) on the road that linked Cagliari to Olbia. Many findings of the Republican and Imperial age were found in the vicinity of the church of Bonucaminu , to the west of the current village, and at the site of Sa Patzata, where you can find the funerary inscription of a Roman soldier named Decumo.
This area housed the ancient population of the Balari, listed in the Civitates Barbariae, which, according to sources of the time, opposed strenuously to the Roman invasion.
During the Middle Ages, the village initially belonged to the Giudicato di Gallura and it was the capital of the curatoria, from which derived the name of the historical region: the Barbagia of Bitti. Dating back to 1173 is a document with the name of the villa: the then Judge Barisone gave the church of Santa Felicita of Bithe to a pisan monastery of San Felice of Vada.
As a result of the marriage between the giudicessa of gallura Elena de Lacon and Lamberto Visconti, Gallura went under the control of Pisa. The increasing interference of the maritime republic led to war with the crown of Aragon that boasted rights on the Kingdom of Sardinia, established at the end of the XIII century by Pope Bonifacio VIII.
The conflict led to dismemberment of the kingdom of Gallura. The village, like almost all the Sardinian villages, was annexed in the fourteenth century to the Giudicato of Arborea under the guidance of Mariano IV who wanted to unify the whole island. The great battle with the Catalan-aragonese, with a considerable waste of men and means, was not a victory. The XV century, represented the beginning of the subordination to foreign powers for the town of Barbagia: Bitti was enfiefed to different family houses: Aragonese, Catalan, then Spanish and from the XVIII century by Piedmont, Italy. They would have to wait until 1838 to be granted citizenship to redeem the feud by putting an end to the exploitation of different lordships.
Many of the small villages of the district became extinct as a result of wars and the plague that killed a tenth of Europe in the fourteenth century: this was the fate of Jumpatu e Dure. The latter, to the east of the current building, are remains of the churches of Babbu Mannu (SS. Trinity), Sant’Istevene (Saint Stephen), Santa Lucia (Saint Luchia), Santa Maria, Santu Jorgeddu (San George in Suelli).
Gorofai managed to survive, now the actual district on the north of the town, that in the second half of the Nineteenth Century lost its independence by becoming a fraction of Bitti . The district still retains its ecclesiastical autonomy with the parish church dedicated to the Santissimo Salvatore who, at the end of the Eighteenth Century, replaced the more ancient San Michele.
Environment and land
A myriad of paths meander along the territory of Bitti in the discovery of a natural oasis, covered with luxuriant forests, enchanting landscapes between granite peaks and wonderful aquatic glimpses formed by waterfalls and ponds.
The west of the village is surrounded by green hills, developing an extensive plateau with cultivated fields between rural sanctuaries. Less than 10 km from the town you will find the lovely waterfalls Sas Lapias de Monte Ruju where the water drops from a granite cliff.
More to the north is the charming forest complex of Crastazza-Tepilora inserted in the Parco Naturale Regionale dell’Oasi di Tepilora which also includes the historic forest of Sos Littos-Sas Tumbas.
In the area of Crastazza you can undertake extraordinary paths on ancient mule tracks and routes traveled from the charcoal burners. The reforestation has returned the landscape back to its original shape with a predominance of holm oaks, junipers (in areas higher), and the cork oaks (more downstream) framed by spontaneous vegetation consisting of arbutus, phyllirea and erica.
An asphalt road that passes near the Mamone prison leads to Su Pranu de Cheddai, a fertile plateau that overlooks enchanting views and where it is possible to admire the scenic waterfalls of S'Illiorai formed by the Nurasè river. Following the nature trails, you arrive in the vicinity of this extraordinary natural spectacle: the river plunges from a height of about 40 meters into the underlying ponds wrapped in a cloud of tiny droplets of water that irrigate the luxuriant vegetation.
Steep and rolling hills are crossed by the ancient streets of the pilgrimmage leading to numerous rural shrines and incredible nuraghic sites.
Nestled among lovely valleys and rivers that drain into Rio Posada, rises the characteristic triangular shape of the granite Tepilora hill (528 m a.s.l.), bordered on the west by the historic Sos Littos-Sas Tumbas forest. Magnificent secular woods of oaks acquired from public land since 1914 are preserved here. To the main woody area consisted of oak are associated filirea, juniper, arbutus, Erica arborea and other species that are typical of the mediterranean shrub as lentisk, oleaster and myrtle. Along the watercourses of the predominately black alder, oleander is the willow of Gallura.
Wild boar, Sardinian hare, fox, and wild cat live in this beautiful environment. Major initiatives of the Ente Foreste Sardegna have led to the repopulation of the Sardinian partridge and resurgence of fallow deer and mouflon.
Mysterious prehistoric temples and archaic singing forms are among the many cultural attractions that the country of Bitti has to offer.
In the municipal territory there is an outstanding complex of Romanzesu: archaeological site, one of the most mysterious and evocative of Sardinia. The fourteenth century b.c. saw the first settlement in the area that slowly expanded until it covered an area of several hectares in which develops the village-sanctuary. The visitor will be surprised by the wide variety and magnificence of sacred buildings. Over all stands out the sacred well connected to a system of tanks flagstones from which probably participants accessed the water to practice the ritual ablutions.
The Barbagia center is famous throughout the island for the mastery of the choirs that perpetuating the art of the ancient hymn, “a tenore” proclaimed by UNESCO “Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. The municipality has dedicated to this famous musical tradition a multimedia museum where you will be able to listen to the most known and acclaimed compositions coming from various areas of the Island. In one of the rooms there is an ingenious totem system that reproduces the 4 voices of su tenore: bassu, contra, boche e mesu boche.
The exhibition is housed in the rooms of a typical house in stone with marble floor, wooden ceiling. In another wing of the same structure, there is the Museo della Civiltà Contadina e Pastorale (Museum of Rural and pastoral Civilization) an important ethnographic collection that offers a cross-section of customs and traditions of the town.
A short distance away, traveling through the labyrinthine alleys and the narrow streets of the historical districts, meets the parish church dedicated to Santu Jorgi (san Giorgio Martire), of medieval origin (ante XV century), which overlooks the main square.
Not far away lies the eighteenth century churches of Sa Pietate (Our Lady of Mercy) and San Michele, while those of Sas Grassias (Our Lady of Grace), and Santa Ruche were built in the seventeenth century in baroque style.
To the north lies the historic district of Gorofai, an ancient village which has preserved its autonomy until the mid nineteenth century. Here you'll find other small jewels of sacred architecture, the church of Su Sarvatore (Holy Savior) that has kept the title of parish achieved at the end of the Eighteenth Century. A testimony to the great piety of its inhabitants there are 9 buildings of worship in the village today, to which are added other 12 in the countryside.
Many churches have disappeared, and some still existing, bear traces of byzantine religiosity: they are a classic example oriental cults of Sant’Elia, Sant'Anna, S. Cosma e Santa Sofia arrived in Sardinia between the IV and IX century.
In the town are active artisan workshops in ceramics, wrought iron, leather, wood, inlay and weaving roffering characteristic artisan and modern interpretations.