Believe your eyes
Oliena is in the very heart of Sardinia. A place where mountains, forests and springs embrace the hard-working, culture-rich people who are eager to pass on their ancient secrets to the new generations.
Live Oliena
A world to discover
Where mountains keep people’s secrets

Sardinia is an ancient land.

You can discover all these millennia layers upon layer in the landscape, the knowledge, and the soul of its people.

Oliena lies in the heart of the island. A place where mountains, forests and springs have been offering shelter and resources to a group of hard-working people with a rich culture and traditions and willing to pass it on to future generations.

These secrets are all about its unrivalled wine, unique fragrances of unparalleled olive oil, or even about the elegance of traditional jewellery and embroidery, all hand-made by the thousand hands of the community throughout the centuries.

And then, there’s the breathtaking landscape, like the indomitable Supramonte, which looks over the town with its highest peak – Punta Corrasi.

While not as tall as before due to natural erosion and the passing of time, its naturally secluded position made this a natural paradise. The area of Oliena hosts about 650 floral species, 70 of which endemic and some exclusive to the Supramonte area – accounting for a third of the entire Sardinian flora.

This vast calcareous-dolomitic mass – which is dotted with forests, canyons, caves and sinkholes – ends North with the vast valley of Lanaitho. This place is a true cradle of culture, keeper of ancient stories which go back as far as 22 thousand years ago.

For free-spirited hearts only
Incantu de Sardigna, hiking around the Supramonte

Come see for yourself canyons and dizzy gorges, desert plateaus, lush forests and sinkholes; unknown and ever-changing landscapes will unfold in front of your eyes.
In the evening, you can rest after a demanding day alongside a fire and a glass of wine – you’ll get familiar with the warm (and basic) welcome of the pinnetos (mountain shelters similar to cabins), which remind you of the housings in the ancient Nuragic times.
You’ll be surrounded by unique flora and fauna, by families of cautious mouflon, majestic golden eagles, and solitary goshawks.

The nectar of the gods
The Nepente wine

For ancient Greeks, Nepente (which could be roughly translated into “That which takes the pain away”) was a miraculous drink capable of taking people’s pains away.
Famous Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio must have forgotten his ones if he decided to give Oliena’s wine the name Nepente.

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A cradle of civilisation
The Lanaitho valley

The Lanaitho valley is a narrow valley born through the force of erosion of the water, once abundant here. It is a karstic zone, so water tends to get in the subsoil, thus creating a structure full of caves, chasms, subterranean rivers, lakes, and springs.

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The most precious gem
Tenore songs

If Sardinian culture is a chest full of treasures to discover, the tenore singing style is probably its most precious gem.
It is a very ancient singing style performed by four men’s voices, and its origins are lost in the sands of time.

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The most ancient human remains in Sardinia

The land of Oliena has been inhabited ever since remote times, thanks to its peculiar natural and geographical position. The various caves in the area have given back some of the most ancient finds on the island, including a human from the Upper Paleolithic – 22.000 years ago. This fantastic find comes from the Corbeddu Cave and others, which proved uninterrupted human presence in the area since the Middle Neolithic.

Prehistory and Protohistory

Human presence in prehistoric and protohistoric times is well documented in the area, especially around the Lanaitho valley:

  • In the Recent Neolithic Age through the Guano cave finds, and through the collective burials known all around Sardinia as Domus de janas (fairies’ homes);
  • In the Copper Age through the pivotal Sa Sedda ’e Biriai village and sanctuary, which belongs to the Monte Claro Culture;
  • In the Bronze Age through the numerous finds of the Bonnànaro Culture, which includes the famous Giants’ Tombs;
  • In the Nuragic Age through the 36 nuraghes found in the area (20 of which are surrounded by built-up areas), and the superlative Sa Sedda ’e sos Carros village
In between romanisation and resistance

We find some inhabited areas during the Roman age, particularly in the valley of the Cedrino river just down the Corrasi Mountain and on the other side facing the Lanaitho valley. Its namesake mountain enshrouds the village of Tiscali, and it is undoubtedly one of the most evocative places. Romanisation in the centre of Sardinia was long and exhausting for the conquerors. With the rupture of the Western Empire, the island will go through a very peculiar Middle Age.

Byzantium and the independent Barbagias

First, though, Sardinia had to face a brief, mainly coastal occupation by the Vandals and the Byzantine conquest between 533 and 534 AC during the reign of Justinian.

Simultaneous to the byzantine occupation, there’s news of the existence of an independent entity within the Mountains of the Barbagias. But, unfortunately, the information about it is relatively scarce. The lack of factual information makes it hard to tell how long Byzantium controlled the island or how autonomous where the various governances during the end of the first millennia.

Judicial Sardinia

What is known for sure is that when history gets clearer at the end of the XI century, the political situation in Sardinia is unique. We find four peer reigns calls giudicato (jury), with each ruled by a king called judge – it would be correct to use its Sardinian name judike.

Torres, Gallura, Arborea and Càlari

The four states, having divided the territory uniformly, are Torres (in the North-West, around the area of today’s Sassari), Gallura (North-East, around today’s Olbia), Arborea (South-West, around Oristano) and Càlari (South, the location of today’s Cagliari). The very vulnerable position of Oliena, once belonging to the jury of Gallura, is quite close to all four reigns.

Conflicts and falls

After some stability, the infiltration in Sardinia of foreign entities, especially those tied to activities of the most influential figures in the powerful marine cities of Pisa and Genoa, brought some tensions which escalated more and more, getting to the fall of three kingdoms in the ’200. The last one, the jury of Arborea, fell in the ’400 while fighting a long battle against the Catalan-Aragonese (the most powerful fleet in the Mediterranean Sea).

The Aragonese and the battle “of Oliena”

In 1324 the territory of Gallura’s jury was directly controlled by Pisa. The Catalan-Aragonese (who allied with the reign of Arborea to counteract Pisa) started a battle which they won just outside Oliena – an area which could be inhabited today – against the Tuscan army.

The war for independence

In the beginning successfully led by Mariano IV and then by his sons Ugone III and Eleonora of Arborea – the Sardinian-Aragonese war put an end to the Island’s independence. Still, it also determined the end of the Catalan dynasty: Martin the Young, who died of malaria in Cagliari, will leave no heirs and a throne weakened by a long conflict.

The reign of Sardinia and the Spanish Empire

The marriage of Isabel of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragona, and the unification of the two reigns, leads Sardinia under control of a new entity: the Spanish Empire.

The Iberic domination brings along feudalism (a phenomenon unknown to Sardinians up to that point) as well as a new institutional asset: the reign of Sardinia, founded artificially in 1297 by Pope Bonifacio VIII, and a new reality within the empire. During this phase, the village of Oliena belongs to the administrative region called “Ogliastra’s jury”.

Jesuits in Oliena

In 1644 Mendoza, the Province Father of the Jesuits, is in Oliena under the invitation of priest Giovanni Angelo Salis, and he spends enthusiastic words about the village: “The land is good and fertile, the climate very healthy, and life is as good as it can be in the kingdom; the people docile, reserved, devote”. Salis, who was Rector of Dorgali and chief of the Holy Inquisition, supported vehemently – and subsequently obtained – the founding of a college of Jesus’s Company in his native land, using his assets and high income to make it real.

The college

The foundation of the college gave great momentum to the entire area: a village of 1500 people had people of the church coming in, along with doctors, notaries, chancellors, lawyers, scribes and poets; there were artists, craftsmen, goldsmiths, carpenters, embroiders, tanners and blacksmiths; this gave great momentum to the agricultural economy as well.
The urban structure of the village changed during this time, and even a century after the dissolution of the order, the beauty of its buildings, orchards, vineyards and olive yards would enchant the passersby who described them as the “gardens” and “paradise” of Sardinia.

The end of the Kingdom

In the ’700 the Island came under the control of the Counts and Dukes of Savoy. Their dominance was ill endured by Sardinians, who revolted against them at the end of the century – a revolt repressed in blood. For Oliena, this time represents a cultural, social and economic decay, which led firstly to its annexe to the states of the mainland (the duchy of Savoy, including the Piedmont principality), and eventually to that of the Italian state.

Oliena today

Oliena treasured its history and its work culture, and during the times, it had many ways to make itself known and value. Its name is still kept in high regard when it comes to the quality of its products, as well as the hospitality of its people, who were always ready to set up genuine and warn relations with visitors throughout history.

Sunny intervals throughout the morning and Sunny later in the day - Moderate east wind
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Sunny all day - Moderate west wind
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Sunny all day - Strong northwest wind
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Sunny all day - Strong west wind
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Sunny throughout the morning and Overcast later in the day - Moderate southwest wind
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Sunny throughout the morning and Overcast later in the day - Moderate northeast wind
27 / 16 °C
Sunny all day - Moderate east wind
28 / 17 °C