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Galtellì is an ancient village of central eastern Sardinia. It has a dominant and panoramic position between the foot of Mount Tuttavista and the shores of the Cedrino River. The enchanted beaches and the resorts of the Gulf of Orosei are just 10 Km away, surrounded by the colors and scents of a land where letting yourself involved is a common temptation, but also a form of art.
Spending vacations, or even just going for a walk with someone along the characteristic streets and the ancient corners of the old village center in Galtellì, means finding yourself plunged into an articulated physical-temporal space, rich of emotions and authentic sensations. It is not a temporary historical re-enactment, but a simple way of living the daily life of a community, the ideal chance for those who want to discover and taste the most authentic Sardinia.
The archeological, artistic and architectural heritage, the ancient traditions, the old knowledge and tastes that are still carefully kept, valorized and handed down to future generations and that are a living part of the identity of the community, reveal today the history and the culture of a people and of their glorious past, which had its moment of prestige and glory in the medieval era, when Galtellì became the seat of the Curatoria Giudicale and of the Diocese.
Galtellì is a Comunità Ospitale , an innovative model of tourism offer for a vacation in a small part of Italy that wants to be “special”. A management system made available to the tourism demand that wants sustainability and authenticity, designed to involve the visitors and touch their hearts. A model of tourism development made of places in which the Guests feel like temporary citizens, identify with the sweet rhythm of the Village life, know and appreciate the material and transcendent heritage of the territory, receiving new cultural contributions and new emotional stirring. Essentially, a place where you can rediscover a true and authentic dimension.
The Comunità Ospitale recounts the territory, preserving it from the risk of standardization typical of a consumer market designed only to maximize the profit. The involved places manage the reception, giving value to their identity and offering to the tourist the non-invasive experience of the intervention of man on the environment, made of old gestures, rich with care and passion, a heritage to be preserved and shared through a quality path that interests the whole Village, the citizens, the financial operators and the public Administrators, which have in common a peculiar welcoming strategy and a vision that guarantees the guest an unforgettable stay, based on participation, on discovering the details and on new knowledge. Human relationship above all, which is found in the mutual desire to host and be hosted and in the innate curiosity to know and discover the community and its territory, convinced that every encounter is an experience and that experiences are the meaning of life. A simple, spontaneous and natural smile is a “gift” and, in hospitality, it is important to “exchange gifts between host and guest”. Even food means relationship and expresses the soul of the territory. The local products, both gastronomical and local craftsmanship creations, are treasure chests of the community knowledge. From this point of view, the typical local dish, besides being a delicious experience of consumption with zero environmental impact, is the “chance” to share a taste, a story, an emotion, a friendship. All of this makes the community an inclusive place, which never discriminates differences but wants to create relationships, through its history and its identity before the visit, through a shared interpretation of the experience during the visit, then, after the visit, feeding the long-distance dialogue and discussion so that those who were hosted can describe their vacation and share, even if they are far away, the pace of the place’s life. The Comunità Ospitale, made of people who love hosting, promotes the active participation of the citizens in the hosting process, from the offer of design stages to the creation of the experience through the figure of the Guest’s Tutor; much more than a simple tour guide, interpreter and escort, mediator between the guest’s culture and the host’s culture, the Guest’s Tutor offers to guide, step by step, the visitor during his/her stay in the Village, to help him/her discover the life of the place, its characteristics, its beauty. Involved in the Village life, an expert of the territory and of the local culture and traditions, the Guest’s Tutor is “the counselor” of the traveler. Have a nice stay!
The territory of Galtellì, inhabited since the Stone Age, is rich with countless archeological discoveries such as Dolmens, Allèes Couvertes, Menhirs, several Domus de Janas, and important hypogeum tombs carved in the rock and dating back to the recent Neolithic period. According to a recent census, in the entire territory there are at least 24 of them, isolated and divided in necropolises. One of them, the Malìcas one, consisting of six hypogeum chambers carved in the schist next to each other, is now inside the residential area of the Village.
The district was intensely populated also in the Nuragic era, as proven by several early nuraghes, nuraghes village remains, giants’ tombs and sacred fountains. Among these, the most interesting are the Boniloghe early nuraghe, which overlooks the Olovesco Valley with the Pulisco River from the edge of the Gollei Muru basaltic plateau; the Callistru early nuraghe, which rises on the Gollei Lupu plateau; The Su Gardu nuraghe; the tombs of the giants of Orruele and the sacred fountain of Ruinas.
There also are several remains of the Roman era. Ruins of ancient villages were confirmed in Sa Turritta, near the banks of the Cedrino River and of the Taddore Creek, on the Gherghè Mountain, where many ceramic pieces emerge from the ground; near the medieval Pontes Castle; in Funtana Arjentu; in S’untana ‘e sa Crai, within the residential area of Galtellì; in Ruinas, where the remains of a rectangular building made with the technique of the opus caementicium are preserved, and many more.
Lastly, life in the Medieval era is well-documented, a period in which the territory obtained a specific authority becoming the headquarters of the Curatoria Giudicale and, in 1138, a Diocese, the second for importance in Gallura after Civita (Olbia). In this respect, it is significant the presence of the Pontes Castle, of which today we have important remains dug out after the first excavations that show its original structure. Built on the remains of a fortress of the Roman era around the year 1070 to guard the territories of the Curatoria of Galtellì-Orosei, it is believed to be a military complex divided by three series of walls at different heights. The tallest one, the dungeon, is more easily readable because it is the best preserved part. The builders took advantage of the rocky profile of calcareous talc, including some rocky spurs in the walls, as we can see in the highest level. The remains highlight a circular cistern partly carved in the rock and partly made of stonework, and a stone oven dug in the wall. A breach in the walls marks the point in which the access to the fortress must have been. The castle was called Pontes, still present in the name of the location, perhaps because it was built right in front of an excellent ford of the Cedrino River that splits the Baronia of Galtellì in two parts.
Between the 11th and the 13th Century, Galtellì grew more and more important. The territory was first controlled by Pisa and, for a short period, by the Giudicessa Eleonora6 , becoming a part of the district of Arborea. The entire Sardinia went through a long period of foreign dominations and also Galtellì, from 1323, went under the Aragonese control. In the grip of stranger barons for a century, in 1459 it became a feud of the local Guiso barons. Its popularity decreased starting from 1495, when the Diocese of Galtellì was joined to the Diocese of Cagliari, creating various problems and inconveniences, until 1779, when the Diocese was re-established, now with a new seat in Nuoro. In 1808, the feud of Galtellì, still under the property of the Guiso family, was seized by the Inland Revenue because the family could no longer pay the taxes. Thus Galtellì became a property of the State, from which it was redeemed in 1838. In 1946, with the Lieutenant’s Decree, it finally became an Independent Municipality.
The strong relationship between art and sacredness in the territory of Galtellì can be felt from a distance. You can foresee it thanks to the majestic bronze statue of the Crucified Christ, on the highest peak of Mount Tuttavista, taller than ten meters and made in occasion of the jubilee in 2000 by the sculptor Pedro Angel Teeron Manrique, a native of Madrid and the director of the Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Madrid. Since then, the Crucified Christ calls believers and onlookers from all around the world and watches the country at its feet from above. There, the story of sacredness and the charm of masterpieces of medieval and contemporary art form a sort of great mosaic. The first strong call in the suburbs of the Village, is the Church of San Pietro, the ancient medieval Basilica, once the Bishop’s seat of the Diocese of Galtellì, built between the 11th and the 12th Century, with nearby the ancient square- plant bell tower. A few meters away from the remains, we find an apse and two tombs of what should have been the new majestic cathedral, which was never completed. Inside, along the walls of the central nave, a painting cycle of some of the oldest frescos in Sardinia were found during a recent restoration, the evidence of Galtellì’s historical and religious importance. Scenes of the Old and New Testament are represented, with clear references to the Byzantine tradition and remarkable affinities with the 11th Century paintings found in Latium and in Tuscany. The Church of San Pietro also preserves several polychrome wooden statues dating back to the 17th and 18th Century. The parish Church in the center of the Village, dedicated to the Santissimo Crocifisso, is equally interesting. The building, originally dedicated to Santa Maria delle Torri and extended around the 16th Century, has a basilica plant with a single nave and four chapels on the left side, in Gothic-Catalan style, decorated with wooden statues dating back to the 17th-18th Century. But the characteristic and uniqueness of this Church is emphasized by the presence of the wooden simulacrum of the Crucified Christ at the high altar, which significantly characterized the story and the spirit of the community of Galtellì since its arrival, at the end of the 14th Century thanks to the Bishop Paolo from Rome. The life-size miraculous Christ in the Late Gothic style, probably made in Pisa, has been venerated through the centuries for many prodigious acts attributed to it, certified by 5 notaries of that time. Historic proofs reveal that the miracles followed one another from 1550. From 1612, the miraculous facts were documented by the Official deeds, with direct interviews to hundreds of people coming from all over Sardinia who witnessed events such as the bleeding of the scars of the Christ and the transfiguration of its body and face. A portion of the artistic heritage, with statues and religious vestments of different origins and from different eras, is preserved inside the other several small Churches of different styles that it is possible to visit along the cobbled streets that lead to the town center. The oratory Church of Santa Croce of the 18th Century, in Gothic-Catalan style; the Church dedicated to the Madonna dell’Assunta dating back to 1600; the Church of San Francesco, and other rural Churches near them. The interior of each of them has characteristics linked to the cult of the Saints and to the religious events that mark the annual calendar of the community life. The strong and traditional bond with faith made of Galtellì a reference destination for the cultural and research dialogue between the great historic religions. In November 2013, in concurrence with the celebration of the anniversary of four hundred years of miracles of its Christ, Galtellì hosted the World Forum of Religions, an event of international importance and participation, with the goal to strengthen the common aspects of the sacredness of life and nature, the continuation of great anthropological values, and the attention to human consciousness.
Mount Tuttavista undoubtedly marks the territory of Galtellì with its imposing lime rock. 806 meters high, due to its panoramic position, it is considered a privileged outlook over the entire Gulf of Orosei on one side, and the valley of the Cedrino River and the mountains of Gennargentu on the other side. A symbolic frame of the typical structure that characterizes the Gulf: the sweet and enchanting emerald sea that magically blends with the irregular rock faces that announce the true character of inner Sardinia, and suggest a new sense of experience.
Not far from the highest peak, close to which stands a bronze statue of Crucified Christ, the nature offers another characteristic glimpse. Through a very short path in the vegetation, we reach the characteristic natural sculpture Sa preta Istampata, a huge rock face with a big circle hole in the middle, dug by the wind erosion, which faces on the Muru plateau. A unique emotion and a beautiful background to take a nice picture with someone. The suggestive scenario and its rocky structure make Mount Tuttavista a favorite destination, especially in summer, to hike, experience different levels of rock climbing, riding along the mountain bike tracks, or simply spend a relaxing day, touched by the fresh sea breeze in the century-old oak forests, which are furnished with tables and seats. Allow yourself this relief!
Galte: the town of Canne al Vento (Reeds in the Wind), the most famous novel by the writer Grazia Deledda, that, in 1926, helped her win the Nobel Prize for Literature. An important and sought after recognition, that made the writer from Nuoro and, with her, also Galtellì, world famous.
At the base of the story, following a scheme that is found in some of her other novels, a condition of life founded on archaic and oppressive rules, sometimes violated by transgression that creates remorse and sense of guilt. Atonement and restoration of the violated rule close the circle. A narrative thread emphasized by subjects such as poverty, honor and profound superstition that characterized the life of rural Sardinia of the 20th century, between a civilization apparently static and still on its millennial uses and traditions and an island that moved forward on the way to progress instead. The story is told through the figure of the protagonist, Efix, the servant of the Pintor dames, who knew the time of power and wealth, as well as that of the rapid decline, of that family. Now, Efix takes care of the last small farm left, and the fruits of the poor man are the only revenue of the noble sisters: Ruth, Ester and Noemi. Galtellì – So, Galte was a stage for Deledda’s literary and human research, before she moved to Rome and totally devoted herself to literary productions and to her commitment as a woman who wanted to express her identity.
Therefore, through Deledda, who elected Galtellì a privileged place of memory, it is possible to trace a path, a theory of exploration of the reality of that time and of today in Sardinia. An exploration made possible in the Parco Deleddiano that has elected Galtellì one of the development hubs. A new approach to the complexity of the culture of a community that we approach with respect and with the certainty to have the right key to enter a new world, with someone who, like Deledda, wrote about that culture and, thanks to that culture, determined her writing career that the entire world appreciated and that was universally recognized by the awarding of the Nobel Prize.
Within the scope of the activities of valorization of Deledda’s work, the Galtellì City Council organizes every second year an international writing contest dedicated to the great writer, inviting the contestants to confront themselves with the subjects present in the novel Canne al Vento: from the religious sentiment to the characteristic of the social classes; from the description of the anthropological cultural and environmental field to the defense of the identity, with works coming from all over the world, and an international Jury.
One after another, for the entire year, events rich with emotional meaning and tradition are held all over Sardinia. In Galtellì, specifically, the bond with tradition is very strong and can be felt especially during religious festivals. A strong and deeply rooted bond that involves both young and less young people and the wise spirit of the elderly of the Village, the actual keepers of the tradition and master models entrusted with the precious task to transmit to new generations the gift of passion.
The first appointment, right after the New Year’s toasts, on the occasion of the celebration dedicated to Sant’Antonio Abate, the majestic bonfires, one per district, light up and warm up the night of January 16, prepared by Priors and Committees that change every year. A ritual with an ancient origin in which the entire community participates, especially in the preparations, from the wood gathered a few days before, to the organization of the convivial dinner, to the preparation and distribution to all the participants of the typical blessed “Cocconeddos” and “Su Pistiddu”, a typical dessert made of dough filled with cooked wine. A sharing moment between sacred and profane that, after the celebration and blessing of the fire, sees the entire community and the several visitors gather around the bonfire, joyfully tasting new wines, with cauldrons filled with boiling pig lard and boiled broad beans. Then, the images drawn by the smoke coming from the fire suggest premonitions, prophecies and wishes for the New Year.
The religious sentiment in Galtellì reaches its peak during the celebrations of the Holy Easter and of the Resurrection. One of the most involving Holy Weeks in Sardinia, the one that takes place in the Village is a unique and absorbing experience characterized by unmissable moments of intense emotional complicity, between faith and tradition, to recall the most significant moments of Christ’s human passion. The ancient rituals of Spanish origin are transmitted from centuries by the ancestral confraternities of Santa Rughe and Sas Animas, that meticulously curate the sacred representations of Palm Sunday, of Su lavabisi and of S’incravamentu and S’iscravamentu, (deposition of the Christ from the Cross) to be finished in the suggestive and participated ceremonial of S’incontru”, in which the Madonna statue, accompanied in a venerating procession through the Village streets, by ancient religious chants in Sardinian language and Latin and by the joyful salutes of the blank shots of riflemen, encounters the statue of the resurrected Jesus Christ. Unforgettable moments, to capture with your eyes and with your heart!
On May 3, the joyful jingle of the bells played by hand by the local bell-ringers, the colors and the elegance of the traditional Galtellì costumes, and the pawing of steps of the horses in procession that, all dressed up, animate the streets of the Village, announce the patronal feast day in honor of the Santissimo Crocifisso. The scarlet red, the black of the coarse woolen skirts, the candid white of the shirts embellished by the gold and silver of antique jewelry are the background of a rich 4-day calendar spent between religious and laic appointments, which call to the square many participants from all around Sardinia.
Thanks to the synergy between the City Council and the variegated world of the local associations, from July to September, there is a rich calendar of different types of appointments, for any age and taste. A series of sports events, cultural entertainment, musicals, theater performances and local food and wine festivals, animate the Village in the pleasant and relaxing summer nights. The top appointment in summer? The Festival in the old Village! Absorbed by the spectacular scenario of the old Village center, all together to retrace the paths of memory and relive the old knowledge, in the Churches, in the houses and in the historic yards, between the people of the community, keepers of the trades of the past, of the rich tastes of the local food tradition, of the folklore and of craftsmanship. Night opening of the museums and spaces dedicated to Grazia Deledda, with tasting and selling of typical local products, exhibitions and entertainment until late at night. Fun guaranteed for all summer
The gastronomical tradition of Sardinia, mainly consisting of simple and genuine ingredients made at home, reveals a remarkable archaic heritage of tastes. Every area of the island keeps its characteristics and differences, with variations developed in relation to the availability of raw materials and, anyway, always around the millennial culture and needs of the agro-pastoral world, matched with combinations and modifications with elements of civilizations that during the years have dominated the island, like Catalans or Pisa.
In Galtellì, the gastronomical tradition is the tradition that most reflects the spirit of the town; a universe of rituals and techniques transmitted generation after generation, strongly tied to the calendar of the natural production of farm products and to festive events. Flavors that, mixed with ancient knowledge, reveal unique dishes and, notwithstanding their simplicity, bring a rich variety of products on the table, ideal for all tastes. The fresh pasta rigorously hand made with Sardinian wheat flours; the roasted piglet; lamb and different meats traditionally cooked in wood-ovens and on the spit; cured meats; cheeses that reveal all the aroma and the scents of the peculiar pastures of Sardinia, rich with Mediterranean vegetation; and the desserts with the famous Seadas, the queen of all desserts, and the various liquors of herbs and berries accompanied by the inevitable Carasau bread, the absolute protagonist of the Galtellì table, and by refined and fragrant wines.
The characteristic desserts that accompany the festivals are many, like the “Casadinas” in the Easter period, the “Papassinos” in the feast day of All Saints, the “Urilletas” and “Vuvusones” during the carnival, and finally the typical “Cuffitura”, a dessert made of toasted almonds, flavored with orange zest and honey, which is offered during wedding celebrations. Indulge yourself, you will not regret it!