Lunissanti at Castelsardo

This month our journey reaches Castelsardo, a village in northern Sardinia with an ancient history, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Its impressive medieval castle overlooks the Gulf of Asinara, from the top of a steep rocky cliff.


Overview of Castelsardo

Castelsardo deserves a visit not only as a seaside resort, but also for the breathtaking views from above the village and for the importance of its monuments, including the medieval castle founded by the Doria family (now the home of the Mediterranean Weaving Museum), the wall surrounding the fortress and the historic core, the beautiful cathedral of St. Anthony Abbot.

Castelsardo View

Castelsardo Cathedral

Castelsardo ancient walls

Castelsardo is often the scene of social events, including New Year’s Eve and Easter concerts, and maintains its cultural and religious roots with characteristic ceremonies that originate from the medieval period and subsequently from the Pisan, Genoese and Spanish influences.

The event of Lunissanti

One of the most famous and ancient is the Lunissanti that takes place on Monday before Easter.
It’s at the same time a religious procession, run by the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, a small pilgrimage and one of the most popular celebrations in town.

The morning of Lunissanti

At dawn, people gather at Castelsardo for the Mass in the Chapel of Santa Maria, from which the procession begins, alternating songs and prayers and crossing the winding streets of the village and then the country roads, until reaching the monastery of Nostra Signora di Tergu.
The protagonists are the “Apostles” and the “Cantors”, elected among the confreres, who wear long white tunics.
The Apostles have the task of exposing and bringing in the symbols of the Passion of Christ, the so-called “Mysteries”; they wear tunics and also carry a pointed white cap that completely masks the face.
The Cantors perform suggestive songs of a pregregorian origin, including the Miserere, accompanying the parade of Mysteries ending in the Church of Tergu.

Apostuli of Lunissanti

Apostuli of Lunissanti

Lunissanti people

Lunissanti at Tergu

Cantori at Tergu

After the religious celebration, people organize a picnic in the surrounding meadows and visit the stalls. This year we found a wonderful day, both to observe the procession and its figurines, and for a subsequent walk in Tergu.

The evening of Lunissanti

When the evening comes, the procession returns to the Cathedral of Castelsardo.
From here, at sunset, the confreres go out through the alleys of the old town; locals and tourists follow them, to the entrance of the church of Santa Maria.

View from Castelsardo

The procession of the morning is repeated, with Apostles and Cantors accompanied by some girls konwn as “Consorelle”. They wear a white tunic and a handkerchief on their heads and have to illuminate the path by carrying candles.

Castelsardo Cathedral by night

Night of Lunissanti at Catelsardo

Lunissanti various pics

Lunissanti event

The long day of the Lunissanti ends late in the night with a last religious function; finally all mysteries arrives at the Church of Santa Maria and are exposed.

Cortes Apertas at Fonni

Since 1996 or so, some countries of the province of Nuoro propose a suggestive event known as “Autumn in Barbagia“, but above all as “Cortes Apertas“.

What is Cortes Apertas?

The term literally means “open courts”; in fact, during these events, the houses of the villages, in particular their courts, become small taverns and shops, sometimes in small museums, with the intentions to welcome visitors, offering wine and food products and present arts and traditions. So this is an opportunity to learn about the local culture, taste the specialties and attend events such as folk songs and dances; it is also a chance to enhance mountain localities and inland places, discovering the charm of traditional Sardinia, in the autumnal season, less affected by mass tourism.
Every weekend, for the entire duration of the event which lasts from September to December, the Cortes Apertas are held in a different town in the heart of Sardinia.


The event in Fonni

This year we have chosen to attend the event in Fonni, during the days of the feast of Immaculate Conception (8th december); we was very curious to know the peculiarities of the village.
Fonni is a small mountain village, on the northern slopes of the Gennargentu; here, in winters, you can usually find cold and snow.
Fortunately, good weather accompanied our visit. That allowed us to enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains, while we walked down the streets of the village.

Panorama of mountains and forests near Fonni

As expected, many houses were open and, inside them, we could observe different aspects of life in Barbagia.
There were those who showed the traditional costumes, those who exposed old pictures and engravings, those who offered tastings of typical products of their companies. From jams to wines, from cheese to tundas (soft traditional bread of Sardinia), to Savoiardi biscuits of Fonni… There was spoilt for choice!

Cortes Apertas at Fonni

Traditional costumes of Fonni

Sardinian food

In the streets everyone could feel the nearness of Christmas, with many decorations and nativity scenes in the various districts.

Presepe in Fonni
Nativity of Fonni
We were equally impressed by the colorful murals that, like at Orgosolo, characterized the exteriors of several houses in the center, representing scenes of daily life.

Murales of an old woman in Fonni

Cortes Apertas and murales in Fonni

Cortes Apertas, of course, is a widespread exposure between the houses and the streets of village; also, it consists in events occurring during days, as tenors singing, chestnut parties, parades of “living nativity” and demonstrations of artisan… So, people can see tradictional activities such as shoeing horses and making cheeses.
Furthermore, in the afternoon we had the opportunity to attend a concert of accordion, with lots of dances… A pleasant ending for our walk at Fonni!

Fisarmonica in Fonni

Thermae in northern Sardinia

Sardinia is famous for water… not only for sea!

Despite the arid appearance of some areas during summer, the island has a lot of water: springs, rivers and lakes. So we can start a smart travel in the north to see the evolution of thermae during centuries, since Roman age to our times.


Porto Torres and the Antiquarium Turriano

Porto Torres is one of the main landing points for tourists, who chose ferries to reach the island. It is a little modern town, with an industrial area, but also with signs of a secular past.
The Romans founded this city in the first century BC, as colony at the end of the river Rio Mannu; afterwards the town maintained a considerable importance for its port.
After the end of the Roman Empire, the population of the city decreased and only after the century XI people came back.

Today, after two thousand years, we can admire the roman bridge.

Roman bridge at Porto Torres

Also the complex of the “Antiquarium Turritano” deserves a visit; it’s an archeological museum with an outdoor area: here many buildings were revealed thanks to excavations and remains of the ancient thermae can be observed. Columns, pools and mosaics describe us the opulent past of this city.

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Roman Mosaics at Porto Torres

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A little travel in the North

After the visit to the “Antiquarium Turritano“, following the panoramic coastal road we move in direction of Castelsardo and Anglona region. Before reaching Castelsardo, we find Lu Bagnu: today the little town offers to the tourists beautiful beaches, but its name is a proof of its ancient history, due to thermal baths from the Roman era.

Unlike in Porto Torres, in Lu Bagnu few are the remains of the ancient thermae; anyway a road is dedicated to the past.

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So, we continue our travel, reaching Castelsardo and going to east…

Casteldoria Spa

The spa of Casteldoria is our new destination, near Santa Maria in the green valley of the river Coghinas.
The structure is a modern thermal establishment that offers many attractions for all seasons; we can mention a swimming pool, hot tubes, a massages centre, a gym and also a cafè, a restaurant and an hotel.

During warmer months, along the banks of the river near the spa, you can sunbathe in the small beach or having a bath in the river Coghinas: the water it’s warm for the presence of natural hot springs!

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