Dorgali is on the east coast of Sardinia on the slopes of Mount Bardia about 5 km from S’Abba Frisca. Situated where the regions of Barbagia, Baronia and Ogliastra meet, Dorgali’s territory has beautiful landscapes that attract visitors from across the world. The territory extends from the Supramonte (highland) to the coast and its distinct heritage includes important archaeological sites of the Nuragic civilization: Serra ‘e Orrios, Biristeddi, Thomes, Nuraghe Mannu and Tiscali. The coast has a succession of pristine beaches such as Cala Luna, Cala Cartoe, and Osala; there are rock formations and coves, and grottoes such as Bue Marino on the shore or in the hinterland at Ispinigoli, which has a central stalagmite counted among the largest of its kind.
The town is 400 m above sea level, has the fourth largest community in Nuoro province (8,576) and has the largest land area (226.54 Km²). The old town centre is noteworthy for many workshops where generations of masters have crafted jewellery, leather, ceramics, and knives of the finest quality. The town has always had a vocation for agriculture and livestock raising, and so in a modern and spacious cheese factory it offers a vast array of quality cheeses that go very well with the renowned Cannonau red wine made in the nearby Cantina Sociale cooperative, a wine also made in many private cellars. When it comes to locally-made foods, the town’s olive oil, pane carasau, fresh pasta and pastries stay with centuries-old traditions of good flavours. Since the 1950s Dorgali has been a popular destination for Italian and foreign visitors.
WHAT TO SEE
The archaeological site at Tiscali is famed for its carsic dolina (ancient sink-hole cavern), unique in its vastness. It is high up among the Supramonte peaks between Dorgali and Oliena, holding the remnants of huts of differing shapes and sizes, most likely built during Nuragic and Roman times. To visit Ispinigoli, good trekking gear and a trained guide are indispensable. The way up and back is steep and very rough and even though there are signs along the path it takes about two hours to get there, so using local experience is a definite plus in helping you get there and back down safely.
Driving from Nuoro along State Road s.s. 125 in the direction of Orosei, take the turnoff 209.400 for Ispinigoli, an outstanding limestone formation in the Dorgali region with its main stalagmite around 38 m high, the second largest discovered in the world. The grotto has a 60 m deep geological swallow-hole connected to the water system of S. Giovanni Su Anzu, which runs underground for about 16 kilometres.
Serra ‘e Orrios Nuragic village
This ancient village is in the countryside near Dorgali and is reached from Olbia by taking the State Road s.s. 131 and turning towards Dorgali on the provincial road s.p. 38. Dating from the second millennium BC, Serra ‘e Orrios is quite extensive and includes the remains of around 100 huts built on circular bases and connected by laneways. Two small temples were built inside sacred enclosures some distance from the huts. The homes were grouped together in small blocks served by little piazzas and public wells. The complex is one of the more intact archaeological sites of Bronze Age life in Sardinia. Relics excavated here are displayed in the Archaeological Museum in Dorgali.
South-west of Dorgali on the border between Orgosolo and Urzulei, Gorropu was eroded by the Frumeneddu River and the canyon at one point is among the deepest in Europe. It’s reached either along State Road s.s. 125 via Genna Silana, or by taking the lower road from Dorgali through Oddoene Valley.
Dorgali Archaeological Museum
The museum was launched in the early 1980s and is now located in a school centre in via La Marmora at the centre of town. It has many relics from Roman and Nuragic times found in the region of Dorgali and Cala Gonone. Guided visits are available. For more information see the website of the local council, Comune di Dorgali.
In Dorgali on the 16th of January as in many parts of Sardinia, an evening bonfire dedicated to St Anthony is lit to begin a rite of purification that has pagan origins, and during festivities participants are offered a beautiful pastry made for the occasion called sa coccone ‘e pistiddu (the filling includes grape must syrup, grated orange peel, saffron and spices), enjoyed along with plenty of red Cannonau wine served in the square outside the church of St Anthony as well as in private wine cellars nearby. On the 19th of January everyone regathers for a bonfire dedicated to St Sebastian, this time in the square outside the parish church of Santa Caterina (St Catherine). Dorgali’s Carnival time begins on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) with an unusual masked procession called Lardajolu, marked by the eating of broad beans and lard cooked and offered up for the occasion in the central piazza of the town, and served with local wine. During the celebrations everyone can feast on tippulas caldas (a kind of doughnut with a filling of pecorino cheese, potato and mint). To finish Carnival time, la Pentolaccia is a cavalcade of horse riders dressed in fine traditional costumes, wending along Corso Umberto. Easter begins with Palm Sunday and a procession through the streets towards the parish church. Holy Thursday renews the ritual of washing of feet to commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus. On Good Friday the Deposition (S’Iscravamentu) is followed by the Via Crucis. The Resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday and ceremonies conclude with S’Incontru, reuniting Jesus and Our Lady in an emotional moment accompanied by rifle salvoes fired into the sky.
Religious festivals are also celebrated in churches across the countryside around Dorgali, arranged by Priors and volunteers from many organisations. After Mass, refreshments are served with pastries, salami meats, cheeses and wine for all. Music and dancing complete the evenings. Festivals include:
- first half of May: Madonna di Valverde (Our Lady of Green Valley);
- second half of May: Madonna del Buoncammino (Our Lady of the Good Road);
- Saturday before Pentecost: Su Babbu Mannu (Feast of the Holy Spirit);
- 24 June: San Giovanni (St John the Baptist);
- 27 July: San Pantaleo (St Pantaleon);
- 13-16 August Festa dell’Assunta, Ferragosto Dorgalese (Feast of the Assumption, Dorgali’s mid-August holiday);
- 16-17 September: San Cipriano e Cornelio (St Cyprian & St Cornelius);
- 25 November: Feast of Dorgali’s patron saint, St Catherine of Alexandria.
The town’s mid-August holiday, Ferragosto Dorgalese is celebrated from the 13th to 16th of August and the Procession of the Assumption is well worth seeing because the local people step out in their precious traditional costumes.
The Autunno in Barbagia festival (Autumn in Barbagia central highlands) comes to Dorgali in the last weekend of September. Taking centre stage: wine and food specialities, artisans, exhibitions.