Autunno in Barbagia 2022

An aura of  legends wraps around the foundation of the town of Sarule: legend says that donno Sarule, around the year One Thousand, took refuge with his family in the current historical center, between the church  del Rosario and the disappeared church of Santa Marta, but the several archaeological sites (about 40) of its territory testify  a history that dates back to the Neolithic Age: the fascinating domus de janas (burials excavated in the rock) of Neunele, Sa Neale and Sa Pranedda tells it.

Even the great nuragic civilization dwelt between these lands: in addition to the ruins of the nuraghi of Iloe, Badu de Orane, Illudei, Letza, Orvanilo, Dospanilo, Illarra, Peddio, are retained the monumental tombs of the Bronze age called “giants tombs ” including the best-preserved, S’Altare de Logula.

During the Roman era several prehistoric settlements were re-used as documented by the discoveries in the area of Incavadu, Valeri, Neunele and Durghio.

An important chapter in the history is the one linked to the foundation of the sanctuary of Nostra Signora de Gonare on the mountain with the same name.According to the popular tale it was built as a former vote by Judge Gonario II diTorres, who, on his return from the second Crusade (1145), promised to erect a church dedicated to the Virgin on the first strip of land seen if he would have survived a terrible storm that threatened to wreck his sailing ship. Legend tells that when he landed on the shores of Orosei the judge first saw Mount Gonare, which it takes its name from, where he built the religious building.

In the XI century , the villa of Sarule is mentioned in the condaghe of San Pietro di Silki; at that time the center was capital of the curatoria, which took its name from him, and was included in the Giudicato of Torres. After the fall of the Giudicato in the XIII century, became part of the Giudicato of Arborea and included in the new curatoria of Dore. Its inhabitants participated in the great war between the Sardinian kings and the Iberian invaders until the final victory of the crown of Aragon. Since the fifteenth century the village fell in the hands of the spanish baronial officers first, then savoy’s one(from 1720) that imposed heavy feudal taxes. Sarule’s people rebelled repeatedly to the oppression and participated in   great no-fief riots that tossed the Island in the Eighteenth Century. The center, built in the Seventeenth Century to the Marquisate of Orani, got definitively free with the redemption of the fief in 1839.

In the twentieth century the town has a certain reputation thanks to its local productions including the woolen fabrics made to the chassis. In the fifties, Eugenio Tavolara, director of the Sardinian Institute Organization of Craft Work (ISOLA), enchanted by the beauty of the typical burra of Sarule even lavished showed and renewed the tradition of weaving. The skillful artisans of the town undertook the reproduction of the drawings of the artist who  received numerous awards and international recognitions.

The sharp profiles of Gonare complex stand out on a gentle hilly territory that surrounds the town of Sarule. In this area you can find the most ancient emerged lands of Sardinia on which it is possible to distinguish masses of granite, limestone and a large variety of metamorphic rocks.

Standing out with their characteristic conical shape the three peaks of Gonare (1083 m)Gonareddu (1045 m) and Punta Lotzori (976 m) are covered by woods of oaks, and in the higher calcareous zones leave place to Bituminaria morisiana and Ephedra nebrodense. This is the habitat of the beautiful roses of mountain (Paeonia mascula subsp. russoi), the delicate orchids (Orchis mascula ichnusae) and numerous endemic species including the Colchico di GonareGigaro sardo corso course and the Acino di Sardegna. Even among the fauna you can find some exclusive species of the Island as the Sardinian tree frog (Hyla sarda) in addition to the martens, hares, foxes, wild boars and many varieties of birds (doves, woodpeckers, buzzard, goshawk, peregrine falcon).

In order to maintain the important biodiversity in these places, the area of the Mountain Gonare (included in the territories of the municipalities of Orani and Sarule) was included in the sites of Community interest (SIC) of the European Union.

The sanctuary of Nostra Signora de Gonare is on top of highest tip  which according to tradition was built in the XII century by judge Gonnario II of Torres as a votive offer for  the return sinking escape from the second Crusade. To get there you go  through a charming path partly dug in the rock which crosses the space occupied by the cumbessias, the temporary house that host the faithful during the festivities in honor of the Virgin.

At the base of the mountain there is the hilly territory of Sarule rich in springs and covered by holm-oak woods, oak and maples including cyclamen flower and convolvoli. There are also several fruit trees and olive groves. In locality Valeri (crossed by the road which leads to Ottana) you can admire a spectacular specimen of millennial olive tree with a circumference of 11 meters.

Going west you can meet the little mountain Incavaddu (438 m) at the base of which is S’Altare de Logula, a magnificent copy of the tomb of giants and burials dating from the Bronze Age.

To the west the land slopes up to 215 m of the charming valley of Ghirtoe where the rio Binzas tributary of the river Tirso flows.

Country of “paceful and laborious people” as defined by Angius  in the Nineteenth Century, Sarule gave birth to the writer Salvatore Sini (1873-1954), author of the poem A Diosa became the most famous love song of Sardinia with the title of the first verse “Non poto reposare”, still invariably present in every serenade.

The town is known throughout the island for the production of valuable and colorful carpets in raw wool and cotton. These beautiful products are still made on archaic vertical frames according to diagrams and ancient mode. Between the streets of the city center are the artisan workshops in which these unique masterpieces are made.The beauty of the typical burra of Sarule even fascinated also the artist Eugenio Tavolara and tied to the weavers to reproduce some of his drawings: from this collaboration was born very fine true art works.

Handmade and historic objects are exposed in the house-museum of the Judge Ladu on main street. Typical example of aristocratic residence , preserves the original furniture and is still used for several demonstrations of preparation of the bread or sweets that takes place during the autumn event in the Barbagia area.

The historical center , with narrow streets which are overlooked by the typical houses in granite, develops around the oldest church of Nostra Signora del Rosario. A plaque found during restoration operations documents that the building was rebuilt in the thirteenth century above the more ancient church of San Nicola di Bari.

The parish church dedicated to San Michele overlooks the main square of the town. Its construction begun in the Eighteenth Century but the church was opened for worship only in 1814. Inside preserves a baptistery and a eighteenth-century crucifix. A few meters further to the right we meet the little church of Santa Croce of XVII century with interesting frescoes on the Passion of Christ.From here along the via Santa Croce for a hundred meters we will arrive to the small church of Sant'Antonio headquarters of the confraternities which animate the religious festivals including the spectacular rites of Holy Week.

A few kilometers from the village you will find the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora del Monte Gonare, important religious building stop of pilgrimmage from all over Sardinia.The current structure is the result of significant operations performed in the seventeenth and eighteenth century but its foundation dates back to the XII century. The Judge Gonario II of Torres did build on top of the mountainat 1083 meters of height, as the former vote to be escaped to a returned shipwreck from the second Crusade. Each year the nearby cumbessias, typical houses of the pilgrims, are repopulated during the celebrations of 8 September.

The several archaeological sites (about 40) document mans’ presence in this territory since the Prehistoric Age. The Neolithic date back the charming domus de janas (graves dug in the rock) of Neunele, Sa Neale and Sa Pranedda, while the Bronze Age is represented by the exceptional constructions of the Nuraghic civilization. In the countryside you can visit the nuraghi di Iloe, Badu de Orane, Illudei, Letza, Orvanilo, Dospanilo, Illarra and Peddio. Not far from the settlements are burials called “Tombs of the Giants” as those of Lutha, Enuteo, Lorrocorio and S’Altare de Logula. This last one is preserved in good condition with a nice decorated stele still in place.