Villages lost and found

Gairo Vecchio - Ogliastra

Villages lost and found

They don't seem abandoned, the soul of the people hovers among the deserted houses of the 'ghost villages'
Overwhelmed by the power of nature

From the heart of Ulassai, the 'Maria Lai trail' climbs up the mountain to the sa Tappara canyon, its walls an incredible natural gym with more than a hundred free-climbing routes, some easy for beginners, others loved by experienced climbers. The canyon opens out onto the Padru valley, and from its opposite sides you can see the ghost towns of Gairo and Osini, overwhelmed by the common fate of their abandoned houses, made fragile by landslides and mudslides after days of incessant rain. Then came the slow exodus to safer shores, but nostalgia drove the villagers to return to the old houses to take care of the gardens and vegetable plots. More than half a century has passed since then, and the irises and calla lilies are still blooming, climbing roses cover the dry stone walls, the trees continue to bear fruit as a reminder of the life that once was and that will perhaps return. In old Osini some of the houses have been restored and the bell of the renovated church occasionally rings in the valley.

Gairo vecchio - Ogliastra
Scorcio di Lollove - Nuoro
Osini vecchio - Ogliastra
Wounded landscapes find harmony and ancient beauty

From one day to the next, the mines closed and silence fell in the mining villages that sprang up like mushrooms in the mountains and forests of Sardinia, often a stone's throw from beautiful seas. A poetic atmosphere now envelops them, they are the voices of the miners who inhabited the humble cottages and fought at the cost of their lives to bring dignity and some security to their gloomy work. You can get there comfortably by car, but there’s a whole different level of excitement that builds as the bosses’ guest houses and opulent Art Nouveau villas, and the mining and washing plants scattered across the landscape around the tunnels meet you little by little, along paths that can be travelled on foot, on horseback or by bike. Sometimes they are small villages, such as Monte Narba near Costa Rei and Malacalzetta in Iglesias. Others are of particular architectural interest, such as the Argentiera, which stretches from the mountain to the silver beach and is now well suited to hosting installations by contemporary artists. Others, such as the village of Ingurtosu in the mountains of Arbus and Rosas in Narcao, are real country villages that housed thousands of miners and their families, with a school and church, infirmary and hospital, which were often crowded at the time.

Miniera dell'Argentiera - Alghero
Ingurtosu - Arbus
Small and beautiful, in splendid solitude

Small forever, two anathemas will condemn them to remain so, Rebeccu for the prophecy of a rejected princess: "You will never have more than thirty houses", Lollove for the curse of the nuns of the old convent excommunicated for their friendship with the shepherds of the area: "You will be like the water of the sea, you will never grow". And they remained small and still, thus destined to isolation and then abandonment. Wandering around the small stone houses built around the church, one can still feel the mysterious charm of their old stories. Lollove has even retained the aura of a place dedicated to love, as its name curiously recalls. The magic of these villages does not end in their alleyways, it continues in the nearby countryside, which holds extraordinary milestones of Nuragic culture. In the countryside of Orune, not far from Lollove, visitors can discover a precious sacred area dating back three thousand years, the su Tempiesu well-temple; a few kilometres from Rebeccu, in the countryside of Bonorva, there is evidence of at least five thousand years of prehistoric civilisation in the Mediterranean, the beautiful necropolis of Sant'Andrea Priu.

You really don't need anything else to visit these parts

Featured in this article

Attractions and places mentioned