A very ancient and little-travelled land, Barbagia stuns visitors with its rugged and wild landscapes, thousands-years old traditions and a cuisine that features authentic flavours and rustic perfumes. The Romans named this region "Barbaria" because of the fierce nature of its people who, with irrepressible tenacity, opposed the conquerors' rule.
The landscape is dominated by the wide Supramonte Plateau and, further south, by the Gennargentu Massif, truly a Mecca for climbers and excursionists who marvel at this uncontaminated environment that reaches as far as the sea with spectacular cliffs overlooking the crystal-clear waters. The Supramonte limestone plateau, on the other hand, embraces the towns of Orgosolo, Oliena and Dorgali and then descends to the Gulf of Orosei.
Dorgali is considered Barbagia's tourist and gastronomic capital. Its surroundings feature such beautiful sites as Baia di Cala Gonone, the Grotta del Bue Marino, and the Nuragic villages. Dorgali's cuisine is a feast of traditional specialties and all sorts of gourmet treats. In addition to the ubiquitous Pane Carasau, that comes with every course, "So moddizosus" and "sa coccone chin gherda" deserve special mention. The former is a soft focaccia made with hard-wheat flour, potatoes, salt, and lard, which is served with sausages and cacciatore-style meats because of its sauce-absorbing quality. "Sa coccone chin gherda" is another kind of focaccia, made with hard-wheat flour, salt, and fried scraps of pork fat, which is at its most fragrant when warmed over a flame. Among the most unique in the vast selection of desserts are "s'Aranzada", a mix of honey, grated orange peel and peeled almonds, served on freshly-picked orange leaves, and "pompia", made with the whole rind of wild cedar fruits and dressed with honey. Barbagia is also the land that produces Cannonau, one of Sardinia's more ancient wines, a generous red born from the slopes of Oliena and Dorgali mountains and in the Ogliastra valleys.
Just 18 km from Oliena, Orgosolo is, among the towns of the Nuoro hinterland, the most frequent destination of Italian and foreign scholars attracted by the invaluable archaeological riches of this area, which include the domus de janas, necropolises of pre-nuragic tombs dug in granite rocks, the Neolithic Menhir, the Tombs of the Giants, and the beautiful gothic/Catalonian-style churches. The Orgosolo landscape also features over a dozen perfectly preserved nuraghe, while the town's walls are decorated by spectacular murales, an art form pioneered by young 1960's protestors and still enthusiastically practiced here.
Other picturesque Barbagia hinterland towns include Gavoi, Ollolai and Fonni, where high-quality Fiore sardo Dop and other traditional sheep, cow and goat milk cheeses are produced.