If you are planning a visit to the southern and central part of Sardinia and are looking for an itinerary among the various towns in the area, then you really can’t miss Sanluri. This charming historical town has a center surrounded by medieval walls and a rich history behind it, and can be easily visited on a day trip from Cagliari, and even on your way to other places in central and northern Sardinia such as Su Nuraxi of Barumini, or even Alghero.
As I have a cousin that lives there, I visit every now and then and thought I’d share my tips for visiting and the town’s main attractions. You’ll be glad to know that, should you decide to visit, you’ll likely be the only foreign tourist around!
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Everything You Need To Know About Sanluri
Located on the Medio Campidano plain, Sanluri is a small town which features the classic Italian medieval architecture.
The historical center has ancient fortifications that divide it from the rest of the village, which has developed in more recent times. Historically, the name of Sanluri is linked to the large amount of wheat grown in the place – in fact the original Sardinian language name comes from “logu de su lori,” that can be roughly translated in “the place where the wheat grows”.
Historically, Sanluri saw its splendor during the Middle Ages, precisely because of its fertile land and strategic location. In the early 15th century, the Castle of Sanluri was the theater of a fierce battle between the Spanish and Sardinian armies, an event that is re-enacted every two years at the end of June.
The Main Things To See In Sanluri
Sanluri has a multitude of churches you’ll enjoy visiting. You may want to enquire with the city hall to make sure they can be opened for you to visit the interiors, otherwise, you can just see them from the outside.
The Duca d’Aosta Museum / Castello di Sanluri
Strolling through the streets of Sanluri is a relaxing and fascinating experience, but the hamlet has more to offer, such as the medieval fortress that stands in the center of the town. The castle – which is where the so-called “Sa Battalla” (the battle) took place – was turned into a museum in 1927.
The exterior is basically unchanged, with a classic rectangular shape, walls and towers placed in the corners. Inside, the Duca D’Aosta Museum allows visitors to relive the Medieval and Renaissance history of the place in the various rooms.
Head over to my post The Nicest Castles In Sardinia.
Church of St. Francis
Located atop one of the highest mountains in the area, the Church of San Francesco was built by Capuchin friars during the Spanish era. The architecture mirrors that of other Capuchin buildings of the time, although the church has undergone several changes over the years. A visit to the Church of St. Francis is also a good excuse to enjoy the spectacular view of the village.
Our Lady of Grace Church
This Catholic church in Sanluri is neoclassical in style; in fact, it was built in the 18th century on the remains of an ancient medieval church. The gothic bell tower is the only remnant of the old church, which gives the building a solemn appearance. Inside the church, you can admire the Retable of St. Anne, also dating back to the Middle Ages.
St Peter’s Church
Located close to the City Hall in the main square, this church dates back to the 14th century and was indeed consecrated in 1377. It has the shape of a two-naves basilica. It used to house the retable of Saint Eligio, painted by an anonymous painter known as the Sanluri Maestro.
St. Sebastian’s Church
Close to Sanluri’s castle, in the historic center, this church has one nave and the sagresty located on its right. There is no certainty of its construction date – mainly because it is a mixture of styles subsequent various renovations. An inscription on the facade dates back to 1518, but it may have followed yet another renovation.
St. Rocco’s Church
San Rocco’s Church was built in Catalan Gothic style after the plague that hit Sardinia between 1652 and 1653 and which caused more than 2,500 deaths in Sanluri. It was consecrated until the mid 20th century, when it was pretty much abandoned. It’s then been restored and now houses the instruments of an orchestra.
San Lorenzo’s Church
Another church close to the castle, it has the shape of a basilica and two naves – though it is thought that it was originally built in the 14th century with just one nave and subsequently enlarged. Its main peculiarity is the facade, which has a nice portico and two large doors surmounted by a small rose window. The two bells on top of the church date back to 1320 and 1434.
San Martino’s Church
This nice small church dates back to the time of the Pisan domination and was built between the 12th and 14th century. Back then, it used to be outside the city walls and had a cemetery where the victims of pandemics were buried. It’s located in the San Martino neighborhood, where you may see a local market too, on Saturdays.
Chiesa di Sant’Antiogu Becciu
Sant’Antioco Vecchio (in Italian) church is the only countryside church of Sanluri, located about 5 km (3.1 miles) from the actual town, on the way to Villanovaforru. Construction of the church started in 1619. After having been left in much despair, the church was finally restored in 2018 and once again opened to the public.
Check out my post The Most Beautiful Churches In Sardinia.
Sa Battalla Reenactment
The Municipality of Sanluri, organizes several medieval reenactments. The most known among them is the reenactment of “Sa Battalla”, a reenactment of the Sanluri battle that took place in June 1404 between the Sardinian army and the Spanish army for the conquest of the fortress.
The reenactment takes place every two years in June, with people dressed as soldiers and knights, wearing armor, weapons and banners.
Another festival you may want to attend is the Festa del Borgo, which is usually held at the end of September, to revive the town’s traditions.
You should also read my post The Best Events And Festivals In Sardinia.
Where to stay in Sanluri
Sanluri is easily visited on day trips from Cagliari, and in general it is better to stay overnight in Cagliari and visit just for the day. It is only 46 km (28.5 miles) away anyways, and a mere 40 minutes drive.
However, you may want to stay a day or two to enjoy the quaint atmosphere and explore the surrounding area too. Since it is a small hamlet, the choice of places to stay overnight is actually quite limited – there literally are three places to stay in total! In the historic center, you can stay at the Piccolo Feudo Hotel and or at a local guesthouse.
How to get to Sanluri
You can easily reach Sanluri by car, leaving from Cagliari and taking the SS131 northbound. It should take you no more than 45 minutes.
If you don’t want to rent a car or prefer not to drive, you’ll be happy to know that a number of buses will take you there from Cagliari. Among others, lines 118, 120, 121, 122, 127, 131 all depart from Cagliari main bus station and have stops in Sanluri. The overall journey should take little over one hour, depending on the number of intermediate stops.