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Rifugio Monte Maccione (Oliena) > Rifugio Sa Oche

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This stage is not to be underestimated: although it is not too long, the difference in altitude quickly makes itself felt, as does the uneven ground and the lack of water.

We walk in a magnificent setting, among immense limestone walls, holm oaks and large natural caves, until we reach the beautiful valle di Lanaitto (Lanaitto valley).

Special Notes

A stage to avoid in the middle summer months.

Sometimes the path on the ground is not very clear. You have to sharpen your eyes to spot the markings (which are always there: sometimes they are cairns on the ground, sometimes stones in the branches of the trees) and follow the GPS track.

There are no water points at all, not even when you arrive: take a good supply with you.

when to go
March - November
Suitable for
how to get there
description of the route

After leaving the Monte Maccione hotel, we climb up the good path behind it and begin a steep ascent (about 100 m height difference), covering the last section of the previous stage. At the fork in the path, we then bear left and begin a wide loop through the woods, circling the rock faces above from the northwest. We walk along a path that is always visible, which is initially very flat and hovers above the plain of Oliena. As the kilometres pass, however, the ups and downs of the path become more pronounced and the ground becomes more uncertain, often consisting of slippery stones: We have to be careful (fortunately we are almost always in the shade of the forest). Occasionally, large whitish bell towers appear above us. Halfway, we also pass the grotta di S'Abba Medica, which is worth a visit (you need a headlamp and surefootedness, the ground is quite slippery).

A few kilometres after the cave, we turn right and set off on a steep climb (about 400 m height difference), which is also quite demanding due to the stony, somewhat unsafe ground, right in the shadow of the beautiful Punta Cusidore (1,147 m); after several hairpin bends, we come to a wide saddle where we meet a typical shepherd's hut. To the west rise the walls of Punta Sos Nidos (1,348 m), which look like whirlpools of stone.

After crossing the watershed, we start the first descent (about 250 m drop) towards the plateau below, where we pass a shepherd's hut and start the second part of the descent (about 550 m drop): in this section, the path sometimes changes from paved earth to rocks and we have to be careful not to get lost. At the end of the descent, after reaching the beautiful valle di Lanaitto, we cross a road and turn right; after a few kilometres we come to another cave that is even more beautiful: Sa Oche (“the mouth”), which is definitely worth a visit - there is also a self-managed refuge of the same name near the cave.

What to know

Barbagia is a historical-geographical area whose name dates back to the time when the Romans called the inhabitants of the part of Sardinia that did not trade with the Empire “Barbarians”. Mentioned even by Dante in the 23rd Canto of Purgatory, it is located in the centre of Sardinia and symbolises, in a way, the heart of the country.

Inhabited since prehistoric times, it was mainly inhabited by the Iliesi tribe during the Nuragic period. The region has always been characterised by the pride and independence of its inhabitants, who resisted and made life difficult for all the peoples who ruled the island. In the Middle Ages, it belonged to the Giudicato of Arborea, which was the last to fall under the thumb of the Aragonese.

The life of the inhabitants of Barbagia was historically regulated by the Codice Barbaricino (Barbaricino Codex), a system of unwritten laws that underpinned the ethics of Barbagia’s pastoralism. The philosopher Antonio Pigliaru analysed it in the 1950s and described it in his book La vendetta barbaricina (The Revenge of Barbagia) as a legal system based on revenge, according to which the crime committed had to be repaid with a vengeance commensurate with the damage suffered, in order to protect the honour of the individual.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a trial was held in Sassari for disamistade, a term meaning “enmity”, referring to the barbaric revenge practise of Orgosolo. The state took on the Barbaricini with modern law and the trial was the scene of a clash between orders: on one side the law, on the other the code of revenge. The result, however, was the complete acquittal of the accused, also thanks to the application of the law itself.

Today, the Barbaricino Code has lost its importance for the settlement of disputes.

What to see

Of the numerous karstic caves in the Supramonte, Grotta Corbeddu is one of the most famous.

It was described by the Nobel Prize winner Grazia Deledda in her novel “L’Edera” and owes its name to the bandit who sought refuge there: Giovanni Corbeddu Salis. Located in the Lanaitto Valley, it consists of three rooms with a total length of 130 metres. Inside, numerous human remains have been found, including the phalanx of a hand that is 20,000 years old - the oldest evidence of a Homo sapiens in Sardinia.

what to eat

Sa Casatina is a kind of sun-shaped savoury pie, filled with fresh sheep’s cheese and mint; typical of the Easter season and particularly popular in the Nuoro area.

where to sleep

Rifugio Sa Oche, near the cave of the same name (the refuge is self-managed and to get the keys you need to call Mr Pasquale Giobba). Tel. +39348 604 0395

Rifugio Picave, in Lanaittu Valley, just north of Sa Oche cave (the hut, which belongs to the Gruppo Grotte Nuorese speleology group, is rather spartan and has no drinking water; moreover, it is usually closed and you have to phone to ask permission to use it and get the keys). Tel. +39328 724 0881


The starting point is accessible by car.

The starting point can be reached by bus, starting from the city of Nuoro.

Here is the LINK to check the timetable.

The starting point is NOT accessible by train.

“During a seemingly endless climb, we come across the beautiful cave of S'Abba Medica: the coolness inside does not seem real”

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