The central part of Sardinia offers lots of places worth discovering, and while it gets less visitors than the popular coastal areas and beaches, it’s a great alternative destination to get away from the crowds, to experience the traditions of Sardinia, and to fully appreciate the local culture and history. Among these places, Gavoi is surely one of the most recommended.
This small village is located in the Barbagia di Ollolai and is surrounded by the Gennargentu mountains. Famous for its natural monuments, the archeological sites and its festivals, Gavoi is a place you don’t want to miss when in the area, and you should definitely include it in your itinerary.
This guide shares a bit of the history and specifics of Gavoi, its best attractions and some practical information to plan your visit.
Some Background Information About Gavoi
Gavoi is located at 800 meters (2,624.6 feet) above sea level, among small forests and waterways, like the splendid Lake Gusana. The natural landscape is the backdrop to the elegant granite buildings of the village, a pleasant sight that you can appreciate just by walking around the streets.
Gavoi is also famous for its gastronomy, in particular for its pecorino Fiore Sardo DOP, as well as for some excellent traditional sweets.
Historically, the territory of Gavoi was populated since the Neolithic period, as testified by the menhir Sa Perda Longa and the domus de janas of Uniai and Istelathe. The Nuragic civilization, on the other hand, left several nuraghe and burial sites, called Giant’s Tombs (Tombe dei Giganti in Italian).
In the Middle Ages, Gavoi was part of the Giudicato di Arborea, while in the 17th century it passed to the Duchy of Mandas.
Gavoi became famous in the 18th century, thanks to the local poetry, which developed into a genre based on lyrical improvisation in the Sardinian language.
The real development of the village began only after World War II, and was focused mainly on the crafting, gastronomy and financial sector. This later led to the promotion of tourism which made the village wealthier and a popular place to visit for Sardinians and tourists alike.
Finally, continue reading to discover the best things to see and do in Gavoi.
What To See And Do In Gavoi, Sardinia
Isola delle Storie Festival
In the first days of July, Gavoi hosts the Festival della Letteratura Sarda, also known as Isola delle Storie. Since 2004, the festival showcases important Sardinian writers, publishers and artists who participate in debates, readings and presentations of their latest works.
Isola delle Storie is considered one of Italy’s most important literary events, so it is no coincidence that during the festival days, Gavoi is practically invaded by literature enthusiasts, industry journalists, critics and also curious tourists. It’s a thriving time to be there so if you are planning on visiting during the days of the festival make sure to book your accommodation well in advance.
You should also read my post The Best Festivals In Sardinia.
Porcu Satta House
The Porcu Satta House Museum is an old mansion from the early 20th century. Inside the ethnographic museum you can admire traditional clothing and traditional toys collections, as well as an exhibition dedicated to antique jewelry. The visit also includes the elegant rooms of the house, such as the “Stanza Ciusa” with handcrafted Sardinian-style furniture, or the Red Room which is particularly striking for its elegant decor.
Church of Sant’Antioco Martire
One of the most important religious buildings in Gavoi, the Church of Sant’Antioco Martire was erected in the 15th century, although the site of construction was used as a cemetery in the past, as evidenced by the findings of human remains.
Inside, the church features a five-arched nave, with the high altar dedicated to St. Antiochus. Humble, yet solemn, this small church has an enveloping and intimate atmosphere, which makes it worth visiting.
Check out my post The Prettiest Churches In Sardinia.
Museo del Fiore Sardo
If you love gastronomy, I suggest you visit the Fiore Sardo Museum, dedicated to one of Sardinia’s most famous cheeses. The Fiore Sardo Cheese of Gavoi is produced following ancient techniques passed down from generations.
Through installations, videos, images and an exhibit of traditional tools, the visit will lead you to the discovery of the Fiore Sardo, as well as the natural and cultural history that surround this world famous gastronomy product.
Don’t forget to read my post A Guide To Sardinian Cheese.
Located 2 km (1.2 miles) from Gavoi, the spectacular Lake Gusana is an artificial reservoir created in the late 1950s between the Litterderone and Nodu nos Arcos mountains. The lake is surrounded by Mediterranean scrub that stretches as far as the eye can see.
A perfect place if you enjoy walking, relaxing and fishing, on the lake it is also possible to take canoe trips, or visit the surrounding woods on horseback. The lake area is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, even in winter thanks to the ski slopes located on the nearby mountains. It’s the setting of one of the most famous competitive runs in Sardinia.
As already mentioned, the territory of Gavoi has plenty of archaeological sites, evidence of the ancient Nuragic civilization that inhabited the land, as well as other proofs of the presence of man during the Neolithic period.
Among these sites, I recommend visiting Sa Perda Longa, a 3.6-meter-high (almost 12 feet) granite monolith that dates back about 6,000 years. In addition to Sa Perda Longa, in the territory of Gavoi you can see the Perdas Fittas, a series of menhir driven into the ground and pointing towards the sky.
If you are fond of archaeology, I suggest you also visit the necropolis of Uniai, as well as the Logomache Complex. The necropolis of Uniai is particularly striking with its 7 domus de janas, the prehistoric rock-cut tombs typical of the pre-Nuragic period of the island. In the Logomache Complex, you can admire the remains of a nuraghe, which consists of a central tower and three secondary towers.
Head over to my posts The Best Archeological Sites In Sardinia and A Guide To Nuraghe In Sardinia.
Where to stay in Gavoi
Gavoi is a small village, and the number of listings on booking sites is limited – so you should book well ahead of your visit. Having said that, the few available places are actually excellent. Here are some places you can easily book:
Casa Sa Hosta – a nice holiday home decorated in very rustic and traditional style and very reasonably priced. The mountain views from the balcony are stunning.
Antichi Sapori da Speranza – in the historic center of Gavoi, rooms at Antichi Sapori are comfortable. A fabulous breakfast is served every morning to start your day.
B&B Didova – modern, clean rooms, a good breakfast and the nice hosts make this one of the best places to stay in the area.
Hotel Gusana – a bit outside of town, closer to the lake, this is the only actual hotel in the area. Rooms are a bit dated, but the views and the pool are great!
If none of these places is available for the dates of your visit, you can look for a stay in Nuoro and even Fonni, where there are a bit more options.
How to get to Gavoi
The easiest way to get to Gavoi is by car. If you are coming from Nuoro, it’ll take you about 30 minutes to drive there. You’ll have to take State Road (SS) 389 var towards Lodine. Once there, take SP30 to Gavoi.
If you are coming from Cagliari, drive along SS131 northbound following the directions to Sassari. Once in Abbasanta, turn right onto SS131 bis and follow the directions to Nuoro, from where you can reach Gavoi. The overall trip should take you around 2.5 hours.
You can also get to Gavoi by bus, taking line 9127 Nuoro – Sorgono from Nuoro station and stopping at Via Roma in Gavoi. It will take you one hour.