Autunno in Barbagia 2022

The ancient name of the town, Augustis, dates back to the Roman domination and precisely to the empire of Octavian Augustus (Rome 63bc - Nola 14 A.D.).

But the territory has a story even more ancient: arrowheads in obsidian, found throughout the area, are the signs of a past that dates back to the  Neolithic Age. From the prehistoric age you also have some important monuments such as the Long Lost Stones and within walking distance, the nuraghi, Lughia Turria and Istecori, evidence of the Sardinian civilization which developed during the Bronze age.

According to reports of the battles with the Romans there are names of the tribes who populated Sardinia. Around Austis dwelt the Celsitani and the  Cunusitani who resisted conquest tenaciously from the armies of Rome and clashed many times.

To defend the roads and the local population against Romans the military garrison of Augustis was created, some garrisons were sent from the capital including, (VII) Lusitanorum.

To document the presence of the Roman outpost on the outskirts to the north of the current building, in locality of the Lost Litterada, is the  necropolis, with discovered inscriptions in granite with Latin writing, coins and the remains of imperial buildings.

In the Middle Ages, the town name is cited several times as kingdom of Agustis and curatoria de Austis the condaghes, registers of churches dating back to the XI-XII century. It was in fact part of the Giudicato of Arborea and was capital of Orani.

The fourteenth century was characterized by the great war of the Sardinian Kings against the powerful Corona d'Aragon who rode pretensions on the Island in the name of the concession made by the Pope Boniface VIII. In 1388 the curator of the villa de Austis was among the signatories of the Peace Treaty between Eleonora D'Arborea and John I, King of Aragon. The conflict continued in subsequent years, and in 1420 the village became part of the marquisate of Oristano until 1478 when it was confiscated by the last marquis Leonardo Alagon, rekindling the conflict against the Spaniards. Since then, the town was given in fief to several noble families by passing under the domain of Pujades, Arbosich, De Sena, Cervellon and, with the passage of the kingdom of Sardinia to the Savoy, was held as a fief by the Manca Guiso and finally by the Amat.

In the eighteenth century the Monte Granatico was established and is the magistracy Council. The first instruments that the population began a journey of freedom from feudal lords from which it was bought in 1838. In those years the first elementary school was opened and the country was engaged in an administrative division of Cagliari but with the reconstruction of the provinces from 1927 it has definitely entered a part of the  province of Nuoro.

Through sas andalas, a network of trails show evidence of ancient stories. It reaches the large and small treasures of the territory of Austis,  revealing fascinating landscapes. Pass between the plateau of the Mandrolisai to discover the beautiful primary forest of Oak never subjected to cutting, and the beautiful forests of Cork Oak surrounded by Mediterranean shrub and the impressive natural sculptures modeled by atmospheric agents on granite rock.

Along the paths are met the old places of work, subject to recovery today: the charcoal kilns, which were used up to the 60’s of the Twentieth Century, and the characteristic folds of mountain shelters once inhabited by the shepherds.

Located on the western slopes of the Gennargentu massif, the territory represents the meeting point of different historical regions characterized by different morphologies and costumes: Barbagia di Ollolai, in the north and east, Barigadu, to the west, and Mandrolisai, to the south.

The whole area is immersed in a rich flora: holm-oak woods, oaks, cork oaks and essences, typical mediterranean vegetation such as arbutus, heather, phyllirea, broom, lentisk. The delicate flowers of pink Serafini, rose hips and hawthorn adorn the green expanses with perfumed fragrances such as myrtle, rosemary and helichrysum.

Of particular beauty is the wildlife oasis of Assai where there are several protected species such as Buck and Sardinian deer. There are also wild boars, foxes, weasels, martens, rabbits, and the rare Sardinian dormouse. Also many birds: the raven, the transfer, the partridge, the jay, the thrush and birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon and the majestic golden eagle.

Nestled in the vegetation are rocky sculptures modeled by nature and by time: water and wind have shaped impressive boulders of granite by shaping their profiles to resemble animals or people. Among the most known is that in the form of an eagle, in the locality of Sa Conca de Su Cannizzu, but especially the rock called “sa crabarissa” : according to popular legend would be a woman of Cabras transformed into stone for denying food to a pastor; other versions define it as the solitary guardian of goats.

While walking along the trails you will discover tunnels and shelters used by the pastors and the impressive granite formations of Oppiane, where you can admire a characteristic shelter under rocks, or those of Nou Orruendeche, a huge boulder with a spur in balance on the void from which you can enjoy a beautiful panorama.

To the north of the municipal territory, near the border with Teti, you will find the charming valley of the lake Benzone, an artificial basin built along the course of the Taloro River for hydroelectric energy production. Watercourses are framed by alders and willows that prefer wet soil and are also found near the springs.

During the autumn it is not rare for fans to meet between the woods with their baskets to go in search of the precious and dainty porcini mushrooms.

Nestled between the historic regions of the Barbagia, Mandrolisai, and Barigadu is the land of Austis: a meeting place and mix of knowledge and traditions.

They refer to pagan rituals with ancient masks of sos Cologanos that characterize the Austese carnival: the face is covered by a black mask of cork, fixed with branches of arbutus while on the body there is bear sheep skins and various bones of the animal are hung on the shoulders to create a movement that will produce a disquieting rhythmic sound.

Among the many initiatives in favor of the local culture there is the manifestation of Frores de Monte that proposes to preserve and enhance an archaic form of popular poetry. Sos Frores are the verses of these poems created by following a precise metric system.

To deepen your knowledge of the history you can visit some archaeological sites dating from the prehistoric period. The Long Lost Stones represent an important testimony of the megalithic structures of mediterranean styles built between the Neolithic Period and the age of metals. The monument is considered a stone gallery for the depth of the chamber (long 8.30 m wide and 1.40 ) formed by 15 vertical plates and 5 tables of coverage. Its particular structure represents a solution to the half road between the stones and the subsequent giants tombs.

Between the nuraghi (Lughia, Turria) present in the territory, is of a certain relevance the one of Istecori: it is a single-towered nuraghe that is supposed to be part of the complex S'Urbale, located a short distance away in the territory of Teti.

In the center of the town is the parish church dedicated to the Madonna dell'Assunta. Heavily redone in the last century, it was erected in 1567 (preserved by the inscription on a pillar) on the place that was probably the site of a church of the 200s dedicated to Sant'Agostino.

Within walking distance from the village you will find the charming rustic church of Sant'Antonio da Padova built in 1669 in the locality of Sa Sedda de Basiloccu. The sanctuary holds a wooden altar carved in baroque style. The area around the building is bounded by muristenis, temporary accommodation for the pilgrims characteristic of rural Sardinian churches.

Here we are celebrating one of the most popular feasts of the Austesi: the third sunday of september celebrates in honor of the Saint with traditional singing and dancing, as su ballu tundu de su chintorzu, accompanied by the sound of the organ. Traditionally the feast was held at the end of the work in the fields and before the departure of the pastors for the pilgrimage toward the Campidano of Oristano.

Much appreciated are its delicious food that can be enjoyed in lodging areas. Among the typical dishes are the fregula istuvada (with the characteristic pasta in the form of small pellets), fregula cun lampazzu (soup with sorrel), Cheese ravioli and potato, or potato and cazzau saliu (rennet preserved in salt) or ricotta cheese, wet or roast lamb, the sheep boiled with potatoes and onion and the delicate and tasty seadas.