A Quick Guide To Nuoro, Sardinia

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Nuoro is called the “Sardinian Athens” by locals because of its continuous, eternal cycle of cultural innovations and constant change. It’s located in the heart of the Sardinian mountains, in the Barbagia area, and will leave you stunned by its beauty and unique atmosphere. Nuoro is a city pulsing with events, festivals, art, and traditions.

Several Sardinian artists, like Grazia Deledda, Francesco Ciusa, and Sebastiano Satta were born here, and the city has always made sure to keep their memory alive.

Nuoro has a colder climate compared to other places in Sardinia, as it is nestled in the mountains – expect to find temperatures that are up to 10 degrees lower to those of Cagliari!

This lesser known town is definitely worth visiting and guarantees a different experience compared to the usual beach-hunting Sardinian holiday.

snow in Sardinia

Nuoro: A Short History

Nuoro was inhabited from a very early age. The numerous Domus de Janas and Nuraghe found in the area show that it was a well-populated place during all of prehistory. However, research shows there haven’t been many contacts between the Nuoro area inhabitants and the Phoenician, who notoriously preferred living and staying closer to the coast.

The same goes for the later Roman conquerors who, however, after meeting the fierce, belligerent locals decided to temporarily retreat towards the external cities, giving up on the mountainous interior.

The Romans were slowly able to conquer the area and made it one of the most important meeting points on the island, thanks to their developed road and agricultural systems. The Sardinian language’s variant that’s still spoken there is the language closest to ancient Latin, a living witness of how deep the Romans managed to influence the locals in the end.

Nuoro Sardinia

After Rome’s fall, all of Sardinia became a Byzantine property and was heavily exploited by taxes, until the institution of the four Giudicati (Judicates); the Giudici decided to co-administer the area, where countless bandit gangs had formed and were threatening the locals.

This situation didn’t change after the end of the Giudicati era and went on until 1720 when the Savoy family bought all of Sardinia off. The following 150 years were a continuous cycle of popular uprisings, punishments, and tax increases: Nuoro was taken advantage of until the very end, but until the very end it fought back.

The city wasn’t considered strategically important in modern times and was not bombed during WW2. Whatever has not been destroyed by time or by human mistakes can still be found and admired. Therefore, let me introduce some of the attractions you shouldn’t miss in Nuoro!

To learn more about the history of Sardinia, read this post.

Must See Attractions In Nuoro And Surroundings

Piazza Sebastiano Satta

This square is considered the city’s core. It is located in the city center and locals use it as a meeting point, to have a chat, an appointment or a simple coffee with friends. It’s dedicated to Sebastiano Satta, a famous Sardinian poet whose house stands right in front of this square. Both the pavement and the benches are made of granite stone, giving the place a unique vibe.

Rione Santu Predu

This is the artisan’s district and the most ancient neighborhood in Nuoro. It has stayed pretty much the same during the last two centuries and, by visiting it, you will indeed feel like you’ve been thrown back in time. The locals also state that this is the place where the best festivals are held. It’s probably the best place to buy a typical, traditional souvenir, too!

Museo MAN

This is the most important Modern Art Museum on the island, and it displays artworks from the XIX to the XXI century. It consists of both a permanent exhibit with more than 200 artworks and a wing dedicated to temporary exhibitions. It was founded in 1999 and it’s located in Sebastiano Satta square’s vicinity.

Here you can admire modern paintings, photographs, and sculptures from several Sardinian and international artists. The museum often runs experimental projects on new forms of art and has an external area dedicated to exhibitions, making it a gem of a museum if you’re into modern and contemporary art.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is €5. It is free to visit each first Sunday of the month.

Read my post The Best Museums In Sardinia.

Santa Maria della Neve Nuoro

Santa Maria Della Neve Church

This is the biggest and most important church in the city, built in the XIX century on the remains of an earlier church. Its Neoclassic style will remind you of an ancient temple. Inside it is even more spectacular than outside. Although very simple as the trend at the times required, its shape and details will not disappoint even the pickiest of visitors. Several beautiful artworks, such as the “Deposizione” painted by Bernardino Palazzi and the “Cristo Morto” by Alessandro Taurini, are stored here.

Check out my post The Nicest Churches In Sardinia.

Madonna delle Grazie

Madonna Delle Grazie Church

Another church that’s considered vital to Nuoro’s traditions, the locals call it “La Chiesa Antica”, “The Ancient Church”. Located in the old Seuna area, it was built around 1600 AC and its style is simple yet stunning, with many Gothic influences.

Museo Ciusa

This museum is dedicated to Francesco Ciusa, considered the founder of modern sculpture in Sardinia. It was opened back in 2016 thanks an agreement with the MAN museum. The MAN gave all their Ciusa sculptures to this smaller museum in exchange for being the museum’s administrator.

There are more than 50 original pieces by the artist, exposed in a way that shows his artistic growth, from his early years in Firenze’s Belle Arti Academy to his Venezia Biennale triumph in 1907.

The museum is temporarily closed.

Monte Ortobene
Massimo.puggioni, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Monte Ortobene

This mountain is every Nuorese’s pride and joy. Located right outside the city, it’s a must-go place for everyone who wants to explore the area.

There are several marked trails, for both beginner and expert hikers. Once you reach the peak, called Cuccuru Nigheddu, at 955 meters above sea level, you’ll be greeted by the Redentore statue and by a stunning, breathtaking view. On clear days you can even spot the sea! You can also see several old ruins during your hike, from prehistoric remains to now abandoned churches.

Grazia Deledda
Nobel Foundation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Museo Deleddiano

An essential stop-over in Nuoro is Grazia Deledda Museum or Museo Deleddiano, located inside the house where she lived in. But who was Grazia Deledda?

Born in Nuoro in 1871, from a wealthy family, she went to school until the 4th grade and then continued her education with a private teacher first and then all on her own: back then, it was not custom for a girl to go to middle and high school. She showed great interest and passion for literature since a very young age and, at the age of 15, she published her first novel.

She started to draw the attention of cultural magazines and artists, making several long-lasting friendships. Unfortunately, her early adult years were not peaceful ones: two of her brothers and her mother died shortly one after another, leaving a mark in her private and literary life.

She moved to Cagliari in 1899, meeting her future husband whom she married the following year, when she again moved- this time to Rome. She then started publishing her most famous works and, in 1926, she won the highest price a writer can achieve: the Literature Nobel Prize. She still is the only Italian woman who has ever won the prestigious award. She died in 1936.

The Museum is located in Deledda’s childhood house, in Santu Predu neighborhood. It consists of three floors neatly organized to show the writer’s life path, her growth, and internal struggles, which were often reflected in her writings. The garden is open to the public as well, and there is a small gift and book shop.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 3:00 to 7:00 pm from October to mid March, and from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 3:00 to 8:00 pm from mid March to the end of September. Admission is €3.

Museo delle Maschere Mediterranee

Another important and one-of-a-kind museum, located in Mamoiada, about 15 kms away from Nuoro. Here you can admire traditional Carnival masks from Sardinia and the Mediterranean Basin through a very suggestive route.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. Admission fee is €4.

Villa Piercy
Photo by Laura Zago on @shutterstock

Villa Piercy

Located in Bolotana, about 40 kms away from Nuoro, this villa was built at the end of the XIX century by the British nobleman Benjamin Piercy, who was in charge of supervising Sassari’s railroad’s building work. This was his family’s private mansion and he often used to host parties where the most influential people of the times were invited. The manor has a wide and impressive garden in which you can admire a lot of exotic plants. Guided tours are available.

Check out my post A Guide To Visiting Villa Piercy.


Tiscali Nuragic Village and hiking trails

30 kms from Nuoro and a must for mountain lovers, you can mix a good hike with a trip back in time. The site is a well-preserved village, and you can still see about 40 nuragic houses in relatively good shape.

The hike to the top isn’t particularly difficult, but I’d still recommend hiring a local guide because it’s quite easy to get lost in the Supramonte area. Both the walk and the view at the top will leave you out of breath. Locals are proud of this area, and for a good reason!

Su Gorropu Gorge

The deepest canyon in Europe – physically dividing Orgosolo and Urzulei, this is another great place for nature and hiking lovers, who enjoy the many hiking trails. Once you’re in the area, you’ll also notice several plants which can only be found there: this canyon has its own micro-ecosystem!

Make sure to read my post The Best Hikes In Sardinia.

Ispinigoli Cave

This cave was used, during ancient times, as a shelter and, later, as a sacrificial pit by the Phoenicians. It’s currently famous thanks to a 38 tall natural column (one of the tallest in Europe) and, in general, because the trail to reach it. If you are not claustrophobic, you should definitely go! The cave is located in Dorgali, 40 mins away from Nuoro.


Practical Information To Plan Your Trip To Nuoro

How to get to Nuoro

The best way to get around Sardinia is by a car, so I recommend renting one for your trip. You can easily get to Nuoro in several ways.

From Olbia airport

BY CAR: Take SS 131 Bis to Nuoro.
BY BUS: Get to Olbia city center and you’ll find several public busses going to Nuoro.

From Sassari

BY CAR: Take SS 131 to Macomer, then SP 129 to Nuoro.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Get a bus to Macomer then a direct train to Nuoro.

From Alghero Fertilia airport

BY CAR: Take SS291 to Sassari, then follow SS 131 to Macomer, then SP 129 to Nuoro.
BY BUS: Get to Olbia city center and you’ll find several public busses going to Nuoro.

From Cagliari

BY CAR: Take SS 131 to Abbasanta and then to SS131 BIS to Nuoro.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: There are direct buses departing from Cagliari ARST station in Piazza Matteotti.

Where to sleep in Nuoro

There are some good accommodation options in Nuoro. These are the best ones:

ERBAS BED AND BREAKFAST – Located in a great position in the city, it comes highly recommended.

LA CORTE DI GRAZIA – One of the best private apartments in the area, if you’re looking for a more private, stress-free place compared to a hotel.

HOTEL GRILLO – A great hotel in the city center, only a few minutes away from the train station.

Did I give you enough reasons to go and visit Nuoro? Better start planning your trip!

Further Readings

Make sure to read my other posts:

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