Discovering the charming old villages of Atzara and Olzai

These are two villages with deeply rooted traditions and a truly ancient culture. Atzara and Olzai are set in the centre of the Island, near the Gennargentu mountain range. Their historic centres jealously guard fascinating granite houses dating back to medieval times, looking out over cobbled streets which all lead to the square of the parish church, which itself hosts a number of ancient treasures.

The Aragonese Gothic church of St. Antioco at Atzara houses two wooden altars in Baroque style and some precious pieces of silver dating back to the 16th century. In the church of St. Barbara at Olzai there is an exquisite 15th century retablo, the work of an anonymous artist, known as the Maestro of Olzai.

Atzara and Olzai are linked by deeply-rooted traditions and an ancient culture, with various remains dating from the nuraghic period, and items showcased in the Carmelo Floris” Museum of Country Life and Art Gallery at Olzai, and the "Antonio Ortiz Echagüe" Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art at Atzara, whose foundation is linked to the Spanish “costumbristas” artists (from the Spanish word costumbre, or ‘custom’) of the Iberian Academy in Rome. These artists, entranced by the colours and images of this part of the island, created a number of works, such as “La festa della confraternita di Atzara” (The Feast of the Confraternity of Atzara) by Antonio Ortiz Echagüe, in which the customs and costumes of Sardinia are the central theme. Thus Atzara became a lively cultural centre, attracting artists such as Antonio Ballero, Giuseppe Biasi, Mario Delitala, Stanis Dessy, Filippo Figari, Carmelo Floris and Antonio Corriga, inspired by the colours and hues of the island’s landscapes.

The same colours are to be found also in the traditional costumes and the local handicraft works, items embodying mysterious skills, uch as the secrets of dying the cloth, a practice native to this territory. Another distinctive feature are the rolling vineyards of native grapes producing the DOC Mandrolisai wine, which can be tasted and savoured in the local cellars, the magasinos apertos, amidst great wine flasks and ancient chestnut and oak casks.

The beauty of these villages, whose communities combine tradition with innovation, will become the backdrop for the events “Foddes po sonare, foddes po ballare” at Atzara and “Cortes Apertas” at Olzai, scheduled for this weekend as part of the folk event calendar “Autunno in Barbagia 2014”.


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