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Welcome to Nuoro, the provincial capital of the Barbagia region, a mountainous and wild area located in the heart of Italy’s gorgeous island of Sardinia. If you are planning on visiting the island and want to experience authentic Sardinian traditions and culture, the city of Nuoro is the perfect destination for you. This article will guide you through the beauty of this enchanting location, offering you advice on what to visit, what to eat, and how to immerse yourself in the rich history of this unique place.
Exploring the Historic Center
Start your adventure in Nuoro from the charming historic center. Stroll through the cobbled streets, admire the ancient houses, and discover the characteristic artisan shops. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Museum of Costume and Tradition, which boasts a vast collection of traditional costumes uniquely Sardinian and objects from local folklore.
Equally interesting is the National Archaeological Museum and its immense collection of finds from the province of Nuoro dating from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic period, the Bronze and Iron Ages, and ending with medieval art.
Nuoro is famous for being the birthplace of numerous artists but probably its most well-known was Grazia Deledda, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926. You can visit her House Museum where you will be able to admire the writer’s personal objects and discover her fascinating world.
Another stop in your tour of the historic center is the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAN), located in the birthplace of the painter Giovanni Antonio Sanna. Here you can appreciate modern works of art by Sardinian and international artists.
One of the most fascinating places in Nuoro is the Church of the Madonna della Solitude originally built in 1625. Located in the upper part of the city, at the foot of Monte Ortobene, it was once a simple sanctuary in the middle of nowhere for shepherds and farmers. It was this church that inspired Grazia Deledda to write her final novel, The Church of Solitude in 1936. Initially, Deledda was buried in Rome and after some controversy her remains were brought back to her hometown, Nuoro, to rest in this very church which was completely renovated for the occasion.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria della Neve is a 19th-century neoclassical building built for the city’s patron saint, the Our Lady of the Snows. Every year on the last Sunday of August pilgrims leave from the Cathedral headed for Monte Ortobene and the statue of the Redeemer. The occasion has become one of the most important religious and folkloristic festivals in Barbagia since 1901, the year in which the statue was placed on the mountain.
Another place of worship very close to the hearts of the people of Nuoro is the recently built (1950s) Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. On November 21st of every year, the people of Nuoro celebrate the Virgin with a special festival.
Tanca Manna Archeological Site
The settlement includes a nurhag and a village dating back to 3600 years ago (Bronze Age). If you happen to visit in the spring, you can attend the Tanca Manna Nuragic Experience event with workshops, guided tours, and special presentations suitable for visitors of all ages.
Authentic Cuisine of Barbagia
Sardinian cuisine is renowned for its simplicity and authenticity. During your stay in Nuoro, treat yourself to a gastronomic break in the numerous restaurants and trattorias offering typical dishes of the region. The typical bread of Barbagia is not so much the well-known carasau but rather, pistoccu, which is dry and twice-baked. As far as pasta is concerned, trying the local giant ravioli, culurgiones, is not optional! This delightful stuffed pasta can be filled with a wide variety of ingredients based on the exact area. Meat dishes include porceddu, a roasted suckling pig, and cheeses are typically made from sheep or goat’s milk. All to be paired with a good bottle of Cannonau wine, renowned for its unique flavor. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Nuoro desserts are characterized by genuine ingredients such as honey, almonds, and even cheese. Don’t leave without trying the Seada and S’Aranzada.
If you have the chance to visit Nuoro during traditional holidays, such as the Mamoiada Carnival or the religious festival of Saint Anthony the Abbot, you will witness a culture unlike anything on the mainland. The Mamoiada Carnival features the famous mamuthones and issohadores, unique, handmade masks proudly worn by the locals. The feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot in January is characterized by bonfires and processions in honor of the patron saint of animals.
With a history rich in traditions, art and culture, Nuoro is an extraordinary destination for travelers who wish to discover authentic Sardinian roots. You will find warm hospitality, breathtaking landscapes, and a fascinating cultural heritage.
Continue reading about the Orosei Gulf and its beaches, some of the most famous in all of Sardinia.