Bortigali (Bortigàle in Sardinian) is a municipality in the Province of Nuoro, located in an amphitheater at the foot of the trachytic Mount Santu Padre, in the historical region of Marghine. It was created by the Union of the municipalities of Marghine and GAL Marghine. Since 2012, it is a member of the Association of Authentic Villages of Italy. The wealth of archaeological sites (nuraghi and domus de janas) attests to human presence in prehistoric times in a land that must have been fertile ground. It is said that the original settlement was a Punic - Roman city, called "Berre", later destroyed, and that seven surviving families formed the first nucleus of the village. It is for this reason that a neighborhood called "Sette padeddas", or seven pans, still exists today in Bortigali referencing the seven "fires" or those seven families that lived there. In the “Judikes” period, the Villa of Bortigali was part of the Marghine curatoria in the judicial-kingdom of Torres. Later in 1259, the curatoria was annexed to that of Arborea. At the end of this period of history, in 1410, the Villa was handed down to the Viscount of Narbonne, and then in 1420 to the Aragonese that granted a fief to Centelles. Lastly, once it sold in 1439 to Salvatore Cubello, it was included in the county of Oliva. Between the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, the village acquired demographic consistency and during this period, almost all of the numerous churches and typical late Gothic lintels of the extensive historic center, were built. In 1821, the community of Bortigali was included in the Cuglieri province, and then in 1843 it permanently ceased its relationship with the last feudal lords. In this century, the population grew to the point of reaching more than 3000 inhabitants, becoming the most populated center of Marghine and the residence of many noble families. In 1848, it was included in the administrative district of Nuoro and remained there until 1859, when it became part of the new province of Cagliari, district of Oristano, Macomer quarter. Later, the area of the suppressed village of Mulargia, a small rural town already known in Roman times by the name of Molaria, referencing its role as a millstones production center, was annexed to the municipality of Bortigali. In 1907, the first dairy cooperative in Sardinia was established in these areas (the current La.Ce.Sa) and in 1927, the town of Marghine was added into the newly formed province of Nuoro, to which it still belongs. During World War II, it housed the Supreme Command of the armed forces of Sardinia, becoming a reference point for the whole island, after General Antonio Basso chose it for its central location and for the protection of Monte Santu Padre. In 1943, in the days following the September 8 armistice, thanks to the intuition and work of some officers and soldiers assigned to the radio stations, short radio programs were broadcast in Sardinia and around the world, that initially had a "humanitarian" purpose: to broadcast outside the island news of military and civilians who lived there. The broadcasts were first preceded by the Sardinian Hymn and the slogan << This is Radio Sardinia, the free voice of Italy ...>>. This was the beginning of the activities of what would become the regional station, but most importantly, the first and only free radio of that time. Its microphones were placed in the bomb shelter located on the outskirts of the village, which today has become a museum dedicated to the birth of radio. On this site in 1945, the premiere world broadcast of the end of the war took place.
The area of the municipality of Bortigali extends from the plateau of Campeda to the North, up to the plain of Rio Murtazzolu to the South, passing through the peaks of the Marghine range. The beauty of this small town can be discovered through its routes and itineraries: the Nature Trail that leads from Bortigali to Mulargia, allows for visiting the most significant archaeological monuments. While the Bortigali Trail - Santu Padre, because it leads to the summit of Monte Santu Padre (1,026 meters), among the highest of the Marghine range, offers visitors an extraordinary landscape that encompasses much of Central and South-Western Sardinia, from the Gennargentu Mountains to those of Sulcis, from the hills of Logudoro, to those of the Baronie, to the sea of Oristano and Bosa. On these cliffs, it is possible to watch the griffon vultures in flight and, for some years, Monte Santu Padre is one of the most sought-after bases for paragliding.
Within the residential area of town, enclosed in a relatively small area, there are six churches, all still well preserved thanks to the dedicated work and the care given by guildmen, guild presidents and prioresses. In addition to the Church of the Rosario, of San Palmerio, of Santa Croce and of San Giuseppe, the distinctive features of the Church of Sant’Antonio should be noted, almost entirely carved into rock. Moreover, in the parish Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, four paintings of a disassembled altarpiece of the Giovanni del Giglio School, conventionally known as "Master of Ozieri", can be admired. The paintings date back to around 1551, and reference Italian Renaissance, Flemish and German paintings. There are also other churches in the towns’ countryside.
The historic center of Bortigali is characterized by narrow streets paved with the typical impedradu and by old rural buildings adorned with portals and lintels classifiable as "Catalan-Aragonese" late-Gothic windows and portals. Those surveyed are over eighty, but many have been lost over the years. The definition of "Aragonese" does not imply the assignment of an architectural style, which is precisely the late Gothic, but refers to their historical origins. The Aragonese, in fact, in the process of consolidating their power in Sardinia, promoted a colonization campaign that included all areas. Therefore, very often, different styles from different eras appear together. This, combined with the use of the same material, the beautiful local red trachyte, makes the historical center of Bortigali a homogeneous whole, worthy of special attention. Of particular interest are the Borghese Palaces of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, from the early decades of the twentieth century.
The significant archaeological heritage of the town is made up of no less than 43 nuraghi, 10 domus de janas, 2 dolmen, and 1 tomb of the giants. Among these, the most important is certainly the majesticOròlo nuraghe, reachable both on foot through the nature trail, and by car, located in a panoramic position: it is composed of a central tower with two floors and a bilobed added structure. Given its elaborate shapes it probably dates back to around 1000 BC. Another very characteristic building, a symbol of Bortigali, is the ancient water mill located in Costa' e Mòlinu, on the Western outskirts of the town, in centuries past it worked thanks to the movement generated by the water of the Rio Mànigos falling. It remained in operation until the 30's and has been recently renovated by the Towns’ Administration.
The cultural heritage of the town is also very rich and linked to its ancient traditions. Among the events that punctuate and animate the life of the inhabitants of Bortigali, the country festival dedicated to Santa Maria de Sauccu , is particularly relevant. We have information on this event since 1606, and to date, its traditional characteristics and its authenticity have remained almost intact. The festival starts on September 7 of each year and ends on September 17 of the same month. On the morning of the first day of the festival, two separate processions accompany the two statues of the Madonna to the Church of the mountain village by the same name: the first procession is made up exclusively of the faithful on foot carrying the Santa Mariaedda smaller statue, while the second procession starts a few hours later, formed by about fifty members of a guild, on foot, dressed with the typical white tunic and about one hundred riders - some of which carry the Madonna on an original saddle called "striglione"- accompanying the larger statue of Santa Maria Manna. The sound of drummers and thousands of blank rifle rounds, greet the start and finish of the two processions. On this occasion, the novenas are held, with time dedicated to faith and other to entertainment. On September 17, the two processions proceed in the opposite direction: the statue of Santa Maria Manna goes back to Bortigali around noon, then in the evening, it is carried around by the "guildsmen" to all households in the town and it is then placed in the Church of Santa Croce.
Based on the well-established tradition, the feast of Sant'Antonio Abate (Sant'Antoni de su fogu) is celebrated on the Saturday and Sunday after the "canonical" on January 17, when a large bonfire is lit, burning the tuva, or hollow trunk of a large tree. The festival, organized by a representative of the guild appointed annually (called "Obriere"), is divided into several events over the next twelve months. After the appointment, the first commitment of the new representative consists of a full day dedicated to cutting, collecting and transporting of firewood to the town. On the Saturday before the event, the statue of the Saint is carried in procession from the church housing it, set in a trachyte cave, to the parish. The priest proceeds to the blessing of the fire, that is then set up again the next morning and the following Sunday; the various movements of the statue and other events of the festivities are accompanied by the launching of " coetes " naturally, followed by festivities.
On August 25, 1907, thanks to the impetus given by the medical officer Pietro Solinas, the "Social Cooperative Letter", was established in Bortigali, the first example of cooperation in the dairy sector in Sardinia. It was created from the need of local farmers to oppose the hegemony of the mainland industrial sector, which for some years, had settled its first dairies in Macomer, as well as the normal desire to produce and publicize their products, in a period of expansion and general dynamism of Sardinian agriculture. Even today, the "La.Ce.Sa "(Central Sardinia Dairy), is one of the most important and well known in the industry, precisely because it produces some typical and renowned cheeses such as caciocavallo or casizolu, provolone, sa fresa ‘e attunzu.