When General Alberto La Marmora arrived in Sardinia, in telling stories of the areas that he visited, he chose these words, that even now, like a photograph still evoke these places: "The deep valley of Gairo is bordered by impressive vertical cliffs beneath which are the towns of Osini and Ulassai. When going through these towns, one is struck by the boldness by which the first inhabitants built their houses at the foot of the huge blocks of ancient fractured rocks, without worrying that new blocks may one day break away and overwhelm them. The inhabitants of the two towns do not worry too much about this sword of Damocles always hanging over their heads".
Thus, at the foot of the Tacchi, mountains of limestone and dolomite, and a short walk from the fertile Valle del Rio Pardu, rich in olive groves and rows of grapevines that accompany the gentle flow of the river until it meets the sea, we find Osini, one of the smallest villages in the Ogliastra area.
The name Osini according to some scholars, appears to be of Phoenician origin and means "rich and wealthy fortress", according to others it derives from the Greek eùxenos and the Latin euinus that may be translated as the term "hospitable."
The birth of the town and the community that, in history, is known as Osini is likely to be attributed to the late ancient and medieval period. Today, visiting this village will allow for seeing the ancient settlement, abandoned in 1951 after the flood, and the new center, rebuilt a kilometer further South. Here, past and present blend into one reality where the ancient "old Osini" and the modern "new Osini" coexist, creating a unique one-of-a-kind setting.
The newest center was built following new construction standards, that while meeting the needs of modern times deprived the village of its identity, nostalgically remembered today by its older inhabitants. A walk to Old Osini, among stone houses in ruins and ancient courtyards, will immerse visitors in the atmosphere of those days, enchanted by a timeless appeal.
At the center of the village stands the church dedicated to the patron Saint, Santa Susanna, probably built in the late seventeenth century, used as a place of worship again after its renovation of 2004. On August 11, during the feast in her honor, all the inhabitants may be found gathered in the old square enjoying listening to the outspoken verses of Sardinian poets.
Due to the success of these initiatives, a project was launched to restore the features of the ancient village, while maintaining the traditional dwellings of rural architecture of that time.
The area of Osini alternates between rolling hills and the majestic peaks of the Taccu, a limestone plateau formed about 160 million years ago. The highest peak is Punta Is Arenas with its 1079 meters above sea level overlooking the valley below, offering a breathtaking view. The plateau is covered by natural, majestic forests of oaks, maquis (heather, rock rose, mastic tree, mock privet, strawberry tree ...), fresh water springs and numerous karstic features. It is not uncommon to see several specimens of wildlife such as wild boar, fox, peregrine falcon, raven and wild cats. In addition, a project was launched in recent years to repopulate Sardinian deer, for which Taccu, is an ideal habitat.
The constant presence of the Forestry Service ensures the safeguarding and control of the flora and fauna of the area, which in addition to its protection work achieved in the area also created several picnic areas, freely accessible to those who want to spend unforgettable moments immersed in these beautiful forests.
Osini is also known for the Natural Monument La Scala (or Gola) of San Giorgio: A mountain pass that owes its name to the Bishop San Giorgio (first holder of the Diocese of Suelli) that, with a miracle, opened the passage in the mountain. The appearance of the gorge, singular and majestic, is suggestive due to the height of its walls and the short distance between them. There are several rock fractures one of which, known as "Sa Brecca ‘e Usala ", is almost 100 meters deep and emanates a cold air current of about 8°C, creating a pleasant surprise for tourists during summer. Some walls, which are up to 100 meters high, are renowned throughout Europe and are a destination spot for many sports and climbing. Since 2008 the San Giorgio Bishop Trail, which is the evangelization itinerary of the Saint, has become a tourist and religious pilgrimage.
Tourists trekking, mountain biking, free climbing and cave exploring, as well as taking a simple walk, are faced with unexpected beauty at every turn. In fact, it is not uncommon to stop and rest under the shade of majestic centuries-old oak trees and be enchanted by the colorful wild orchids, which only grow in these areas
The village is home to important works of famous Sardinian artists, with notable works such as “The goose flying game” by Maria Lai, the representation of the “Mother goddess” by Costantino Nivola and the murals by Pinuccio Scioli depicting a couple wearing the traditional folk costume of Osini. The old train station is worth a visit; built of local stone, it preserves intact the writings from the early twentieth century, when the history of the inhabitants of Osini intertwined with the shimmering rails of the train. The line, abandoned since 1956, has become today a scenic trail to walk on, ride a bike or enjoy on horseback.
In order to understand the traditions of these places, it is possible to participate in various religious festivals: in April, on the occasion of the celebration in honor of San Giorgio the Bishop, the faithful go in procession from the new part of town to the old country church dating back to around 1300. The participants chant the ritual "goccius”, namely, sing prayers in the Sardinian religious tradition. On the other hand, in June, Osini organizes an engaging festival of cherries that becomes an opportunity to present local products (both food and wine and crafts) and to raise awareness of the beauty of the land to those who travel to this small mountain village. In particular, delicious extra virgin olive oil is one of the most important products of Osini. This has led to the appointment of the town as the "city of oil". Lastly, for theater, music and entertainment lovers, we note the Tacchi Festival that takes place in August on this side of the Pardu valley.
Ancient history buffs, should plan a visit to the archaeological park, rich with evidence of the Nuragic period (1700 BC), preserved by its geographical isolation. The nuraghe Serbissi is among the most notable, set at almost 1000 meters above sea level: it is the most beautiful and significant of Tacco and is among the most interesting megalithic architecture of the Ogliastra area. A splendid example of nuraghe with trefoil base, it consists of four towers incorporated into a mighty bastion and a village of eight huts. The uniqueness of the site is given also by the presence of a natural cave below, a place frequented by shepherds and farmers, which was probably used by Nuragic people as a food cellar and place of worship. In the plain of Trucculu, the simple nuraghi of Orruttu and Sanu may be seen. The Nuragic complex of Urceni, built on a rock tower that projects it onto the valley floor below, is also of great interest.
The village has always been closely tied to its land, the source of its economic livelihood. Stone, earth and wood have always been used in construction and architectural fields: calcareous stones for building and for manufacturing of lime, clay soil to create the tiles, and wood for the production of coal.
Even today, it is possible to visit what remains of the ancient lime kilns, monuments of industrial architecture, with a circular shape recalling the architecture of the dolmen.