Autunno in Barbagia is a festival taking place in the Sardinian Barbagia region, every weekend, for a whopping three months in total. The festival’s name literally means “Fall in Barbagia” and consists of a series of events, usually starting on the first week of September and carrying on until December.
Every weekend, the festival changes location to a new village in Barbagia, with different events and guests. It unfolds together with Cortes Apertas (Open Courts), which is a part, the most famous, of the main festival.
During Cortes Apertas, the old traditional houses and buildings in the villages taking part in the event “open their courts” to visitors, who can experience the traditions, folklore, food, and everything typical of the region. Autunno in Barbagia and Cortes Apertas are so intertwined that the two names are often used as synonyms.
Curious to find out more about this festival? Continue reading – I have attended several times and I am here to tell you the most important facts!
A Quick Introduction To Barbagia
Barbagia is a region located among the Gennargentu and Supramonte mountains in the northeast of Sardinia and is considered the wildest, most authentic part of the island. Here, people still cherish their traditions, myths, folklore; they still proudly display their traditional clothes (though mind you, they don’t wear them on a daily basis!) and cook food like their grand-grand-grandparents used to do.
Festivities – both religious and pagan – are still organized with great dedication and heartily celebrated.
The locals from the Barbagia area are the most warm-hearted people you can find in Sardinia: despite their grouchy appearance, they will do and give you anything to make you feel at home. After all, guests are still considered sacred and untouchable on the island! You should come and feel the locals’ hospitality for yourself.
Barbagia is also home to some unique, breathtaking views. First of all, the Gennargentu and Supramonte are the highest mountains in Sardinia. Here you will find secular trees, peaceful forests where the time has stopped, and a ton of wildflife such as wild boars and deer.
But despite being a mainly mountainous region, Barbagia doesn’t shy away from giving us some stunning seascapes too. Did you know that Baunei and Dorgali, with their out-of-this-world beaches, are part of this region too?
What You Must Know About Autunno In Barbagia
The history of Autunno in Barbagia
Autunno in Barbagia was founded in 2001, but the first Cortes Apertas – which later became a huge part of the bigger event – took place for the first time in 1996 in Oliena. Back then, the city opened the traditional homes and organized gastronomic and cultural tours.
Year after year, more villages in the Nuoro area followed and, during the last editions, a total of 32 small town and villages took part in the festival, which lasted more than three months and brought immense profits to the local communities – about 10 billion euros!
Now, Autunno in Barbagia and its Cortes Apertas are a great attraction for both locals and tourists, who eagerly wait for September and the start of the festival to experience Sardinia’s traditions, culture and taste its most delicious food.
What does Autunno in Barbagia celebrate?
Autunno in Barbagia is a three-month-long showcase of everything Sardinian. From the Tenor Singing to the multitude of basket-weaving techniques; from demonstrations of traditional cooking techniques; cheese making; sewing; and building farming tools to an abundant and constant flow of wine, you will leave Barbagia with a lot of new knowledge and experiences… but they will keep your heart in exchange.
The archeological tours are also a huge part of the festival. The Barbagia region, being surrounded by mountains and isolated since the beginning of time, has an enormous historical heritage. Take advantage of your time there and enjoy some Nuraghe, Giants’ Tomb, or Domus de Janas tour.
When and where does Autunno in Barbagia take place?
The festival usually starts during the first weekend of September, in a different village every year. When in Bitti, it is focused on showcasing the Tenor Singing (deemed as Intangible UNESCO Heritage).
The cities taking part in the festival are always between 28-32, and every one of them has something unique that will leave the visitors amazed; plus, the common thread of food and wines will guide you throughout the whole exploration.
Some of the best festivals are held in the following villages and small towns:
OLIENA – where you will witness the old, traditional wedding rituals and be close to some amazing historical ruins. Plus, there is no shortage of workshops and delicious food.
ORANI – famous for its old mines and its wood manufacturing traditions.
TONARA – where you can’t miss the free tasting of its famous torrone sweet (nougat). Everyone from Sardinia buys Tonara’s torrone, it’s just too good compared to any other!
DORGALI – where you will learn how to weave a carpet, how to make a traditional knife (resoja), how filigree jewels are made, and much, much more.
GAVOI – which, similarly to Tonara, attracts people from all around Sardinia thanks to its traditional cheese, the Fiore Sardo.
ORGOSOLO – where the murals in the center of the village are the perfect background for the many activities planned each year.
SORGONO – which every year turns its weekend into a wine festival – and for all the right reasons. People there are proud of their grapes’ products, which are among the best on the island.
ARITZO – with its chestnut festival.
MAMOIADA – where every year they create a food itinerary with everything you should try from Sardinia – and more. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Mediterranean Masks Museum in the village!
NUORO – the capital of the region of Barbagia. There is a multitude of events waiting for you, and even just having a tour of the city will be good enough reason to go!
FONNI – Their traditional clothes showcase is something worth climbing a mountain for. And speaking of mountains, Fonni is home to great ski slope, so why don’t you catch two birds with one stone?
For the full calendar of events of Autunno in Barbagia, you may want to check the official website of the event here.
How to get to Autunno in Barbagia
As I said several times already, Autunno in Barbagia takes place in about 30 villages each year. Locals of Sardinia either drive to the villages or go by bus – some tour companies organize bus transportation, but you are better off enquiring locally once you are in Sardinia to see what’s available.
Renting a car is probably a good idea when traveling to Sardinia, anyways, as some of the villages can be poorly connected to the major hubs and getting there can be a hassle – especially if you are only planning a day trip.
Where to sleep when attending Autunno in Barbagia
You have the option of sleeping in various locations when attending the festival. Nuoro is probably the most central, from where you can easily reach all the other villages. Oliena and Fonni have good accommodation options too. Here is a selection:
B&B Pascal House Nuoro – Located in the main Barbagia city, this B&B offers a great place to stay for the ones wanting to explore the area. Every room has a private bathroom and the whole building has free Wi-Fi. Some rooms are also equipped with a terrace or balcony. Free parking is available on site as well.
B&B Oliena – This place, albeit small, gained a lot of positive feedbacks thanks to the location, the service’s quality, and the host’s competence. Free parking is available on site. Pets are admitted.
B&B La Dolce Sosta Fonni – This B&B offers free WiFi, private bathrooms in each room, and a shared garden. The parking is free, and the breakfast is, according to the guests, excellent.
B&B Jannas Orgosolo – Located 7 km (4.3 miles) from the village, this place has a swimming pool and neat, beautiful rooms. The building is immersed in nature and will grant you a relaxing, nice stay. Free parking and buffet breakfast are included.
Autunno in Barbagia is an event you can’t miss – try to take part in as many weekends and events as possible!
Make sure to read my other posts:
- The Most Important Festivals And Events In Sardinia
- A Brief Guide To Time In Jazz
- A Guide To Sant’Efisio Festival