Ozieri is an elegant small city in the middle of Central-northern Sardinia, in the historical region of Logudoro, rich in ancient traditions and culture. It used to have a really good hospital, so many people were born here, but very few know the city.
Some just pass by or stay for an hour or so, and will never know about the true beauty and rich history hidden in these alleys.
The story of Ozieri started in prehistoric times. Artifacts retrieved at San Michele Grotto, in the higher part of town, led scholars to believe that the Culture of San Michele was the first great Sardinian civilization.
Most artifacts were moved to Cagliari and Sassari. The Archaeological Museum of Ozieri, now located in the beautiful Poor Clares’ Convent following a restoration, hosts a small collection.
The San Michele grotto is said to be connected to another grotto under the Carmelo hill. The latter is not open for visitors.
In the wide and fertile Chilivani plain, near the city outskirts and land estates owned by wealthy families, the Bisarcio Basilica stands tall, austere and solitary. The Romanesque church is a testament to the styles and ability of the craftsmen who built it.
Excavations started 3 years ago to unearth the old settlement around the basilica. The countryside around here abounds with nuragic and Roman remains. Besides the picturesque Nuraghe Burghidu, there are more nuraghes, unfortunately in decay.
At Pont’Ezzu you can visit an impressive Roman bridge. The 6-arch, 90-meter long structure served as a link in the road between Cagliari and Olbia. The beautiful nature around the bridge makes this a favorite spot for locals.
Crammed between surrounding buildings, the mighty Sa Mandra ‘e sa Jua nuraghe can be found right in the middle of San Nicola, a suburb built in the ’70s, now home to over three thousand inhabitants.
Ozieri Old Town is considered an area of beauty and great architectural value. The elegant dwellings are the legacy of noble and wealthy families who lived here in the past.
Spanish and neoclassical influences are obvious everywhere. Between Cantareddu Square and Grixoni Fountain, a plaque marks the place where Francesco Ignazio Mannu was born. He’s famous for penning the verses of Procurare ’e moderare, Sardinia’s national anthem.
Observe the imposing buildings lining the elegant streets to spot Ozieri’s signature architecture element, the altane, top-floor 19th century loggias.
The historic center landscape is also characterized by narrow streets, steep stairways and slopes. Set out for some of the back alleys to view more humble dwellings, evidence of the harshness of life in the nineteenth century.
A great example of “humble architecture” is Casa Bellu, in Corralzu historic neighborhood. A visit here is an exciting leap into the past.
The well-off owners of the refined buildings in the center used to spend summer in their villas on the hills around town. A recent study by Pierpaolo Peralta and Sebastiano Porcu sheds new light on these long-neglected dwellings, which boast chapels, fountains, stables and magnificent gates.
Since 1995 several art works have been scattered around town and the countryside, as part of a project by the Stone & Iron Open-Air Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, dedicated to Lorenzo Guerrini.
Ozieri offers a wide range of museums: the Archaeological Museum houses a rich coin collection; The Diocesan Museum, open on weekends, displays some 16th century paintings by the famous Master of Ozieri; at the Art Gallery you can view paintings by Giuseppe Altana, Pietro Tinu and more local artists.
Also worth mentioning are the Old Mill and Bread Museum, the Museum of Rural Culture and an important Documentation Center on Sardinian Literature, home to some manuscripts by prominent poets from Ozieri.
Ozieri boasts some excellent food products too, such as its traditional pane fino (flat bread), sospiri and copulete sweets, chocolate, greviera cheese, local onions and wine.
The hills surrounding the village are full with vineyards, grown with passion by privates. Among the typical vine varieties, Alvarega used to be grown for members of the local aristocracy. Its production is protected and fostered by the Alvarega winemakers association. One vineyard produces and trades a type of PDO Cannonau, called Suelzu.
Su Trinta ‘e Sant’Andria wine festival is renowned all over Sardinia and an event not to be missed: On the last Saturday of November, the community opens the doors of over thirty wine cellars in Ozieri’s precious old town. Visitors flock from every corner of Sardinia to celebrate the tasting of the new wine.
Surrounded by beautiful Logudoro (The Golden Place), Ozieri is still an unknown gem, rich of culture and precious sights.