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The origins

ViewLuras is a small town in Gallura with 2800 inhabitants. It is located in northeastern Sardinia, extends upon a granitic hillock of the plateau of Mount Limbara, at the height of 508 (512) metres.
Long ago, its name was Villa Lauras or Oppidum Luris, whose origin is often attributed to the Latin words lura (leather bag) or laurus (laurel).
Concerning the origins of the town, there are a few hypotheses that, according to several historians, consider it as one of the five settlements founded by Etrurians in Sardinia around 862 b. C. Others are more inclined to believe that Luras could have been a colony founded by some of those Jews, 4000 in all, who had been banished and sent to Sardinia by the Roman Emperor Tiberius in 19 a. D. This hypothesis is strengthened by several usage and costumes of Luras’ inhabitants, by their trading attitude, some typical local dishes and even some of their character features.


The history

Luras - CurieddaThe first document where Luras is mentioned is the “Carta Pisana”, dated 1300, where all the “ville” (villages) of the “Giudicato” of Gallura are divided in “Curatorie”. Luras was part of the “Curatoria” of “Gemini Josso”. In that period and during the Aragonese occupation, in Luras territory new villages sprang up, which were later abandoned in different times, owing to pestilences, famines and barbaric invasions.
Siffilionis (today called Silonis) lay nearby the ancient church of San Pietro, parish of this village; Canahim or Canahini (the modern Canaili) was placed around the church of San Michele; moreover, in the area now called Carana, another village lay, whose name was Canarhan and belonged to the parish of San Nicola and San Bartolomeo church.
Luras - View from "Piazza di Chiesa" Furthermore, still in the “Curatoria” of Canahini, other villages were located, such as Astaina and Hagiana, whereas in the “Curatoria” of Gemini there was another village, called “Campo de Vigne” or “de Vinyes”, whose translation might be Field of Vineyards.
Later on, Luras was part of the “Marchesato” of Gallura up to 1839.
During the 19th century, besides the traditional agricultural activities, still practised nowadays, new trading activities throve and Luresi (Luras’ inhabitants) began to leave their village and travel throughout the island, and not only, to sell their handcrafted articles: berrittas (ancient hats of the male costume), wool, leather, cork and iron made articles, cloth, wine, “acquavite” (kind of brandy), cheese, cereals etc.. This new business granted them a particular wellbeing.
Nowadays, Luras’ economy is based upon farming, breeding, wine-growing, cork working and granite quarrying. The vineyards lying in this territory are the widest in upper Gallura and maybe the best cultivated too, and their wines are highly valued even beyond the regional and national borders; the most renowned are “Vermentino”, “Moscato” and, last but not least, the “Nebiolo di Luras”, the most famous of all.


The dialect

Luras’ inhabitants, unlike those of all the other towns in Gallura, keep on speaking the original Sardinian language. There are a few hypotheses, which try to give a possible and truthful interpretation to this singular peculiarity. Around 1200, Gallura was infested by an awful epidemic. Only Luras preserved its immunity, and it became the only one, which could repel the Corses that, in the meantime, had occupied Northern Sardinia and conquered the deserted villages they found on their way. This theory would justify the preservation of the Sardinian language against the “Gallurese” one, which has got an evident Corse derivation.
The keeping of Sardinian language could be also due to the need of communicating with people of interior Sardinia, during their trade wanderings.
The originality of “lurisincos”, as Luras’ inhabitants are ethnically called, comes out right of their dialect, which, besides the musicality of its accent, differs from the other North-Sardinian dialects because of several other shades.


The archaeology

Alle couverte of LadasLuras’ people used to call them “Sepulturas de zigantes” or “de paladinos”, whose translation could be “Tombs of Giants”, but these important funerary megalithic monuments are known all over the world as Dolmen. They represent a meaningful example of one of the greatest concentrations of such kind of tombs.
Actually, in Luras’ territory there are even four: the “Allée couverte” in Ladas and those with a plainer structure in Alzoledda, Ciuledda and Billella.
The allée “Ladas”, whose covering is formed by two big flat slabs, one of which turned out to be the second biggest one in the whole Mediterranean basin, just like the other smaller dolmens, is well preserved in its structure all made of local granite.
All together, they represent an interesting sequence of the evolution of the building typology of these megalithic monuments, starting from the simple dolmen of the Neolithic period, going through the realisation of gallery tombs, such as the Allées couvertes, to get to the famous “Tombe dei Giganti”.


Then thousand-year-old oleasters

OleasterThe thousand-year-old oleasters of “Santu Baltolu” in Carana are included in an enchanting natural landscape, on the shore of the Lake Liscia, where the contrast between the granitic mountains and the lake itself shows up some scenery of great value. The oldest of them, “s’ozzastru”, as “luresi” (Luras’ inhabitants) affectionately but respectfully use to call it, presents, at the height of 1,3 and up to 9,3 metres from the ground, a girth of about 12 metres. According to some experts, it might be 3000-4000 years old, and therefore it would be one of the oldest trees in Europe.
This “patriarch of nature”, has been proclaimed Natural Monument and by this time stands out the most important naturalistic guidebooks. Moreover, it’s included today in the list of the “Twenty Age-old Trees”, one for each Italian region, that must be safeguarded and will be declared “National Monuments” by a ministerial decree.


The churches

Madonna del RosarioIn 1765, by order of the Bishop of Civita, monsignor Pietro Paolo Carta, the tumbled-down San Giacomo Church had been destroyed and, in its place, a new parish church was built, consecrated to the Virgin Mary of the Rosary, patroness of the village, and named therefore “Madonna del Rosario”. It is an austere church in neo-Romanesque style, and, with its front-face in rough granite, and the inside with a nave and two aisles, its arches and the red bricks of the barrel-vaults, represents a precious specimen of religious architecture in Gallura. Of great value the inner doors in engraved wood, dated 1907, the marble baptistery of the 19th century, the mannerist painting of the 17th century “Madonna with the Child”, “The Whitsunday”(Pentecoste), painted by Antonio Caboni (1874), and finally “The Purgatory”, painted in 1927 by Giovanni Patrone.
In the neighbourhood of the parish, there’s Santa Croce, built in the 18th century, as well as the parish. This little church has got a front face in rough granite and it’s the chief-seat of the homonymous Confraternity, which every year, at Christmas, attends to the realisation of an absolutely valuable crib.
San Pietro is a classical little church that dates back to the Spanish period of 17th century. And even the little church of “Purgatorio”, built in the Savoyard period, at the end of 18th century, is worthy a visit.
San Pietro During the route that leads to visit these churches, you can have the chance to walk through the old quarters of the historical centre, rich in memories and antiquity, engraved on the granitic houses, whose walls outline the narrow alleys, known as “sas carreras” and “sas atterighinos”.
We can’t absolutely forget the large number of country churches, surrounded by enchanting natural scenery and themselves examples of a religious architecture, often considered very simple, but without doubt rich in close and intimate devotion. The charming “Santa Maria delle Grazie” was certainly part of the medieval village Siffilionis. Not far from it, another church rises, San Pietro, the old parish of this village, unfortunately crumbling nowadays and awaiting restoration works. Just above the other two, lies San Leonardo, built in 19th century probably upon the ruins of a pre-existent church. “San Bartolomeo” lies on a hill in Carana,
that looks down Liscia Lake, in close proximity of the millenary oleasters. This church is without doubt rather ancient, even if dating it with certainty is hardly impossible; it’s been almost entirely rebuilt in the early sixties, just after the construction of the dike on Liscia Lake had flooded the ancient “San Nicola” church.
San Michele in Canaili is a very ancient church too and can most likely be regarded as the parish of the extinct medieval village Canahini.

The previous news items are drawn from the booklet made by the tourist association “Pro Loco” and by “Comune di Luras”

The Sardinian crib

Detail of the cribThe tourists who visit this little town at Christmas have the opportunity of admiring the traditional crib, set up in Santa Croce, supervised by the prior of the homonymous confraternity, Pier Paolo Cabras, who revives every year with his confrères’ help, a picturesque frame of the country life of many years ago. Nativity always takes place in some scenery, with our village as a background, rebuilding with a determinate accuracy several Luras’ characteristic views. Skill joined to fancy, makes the subject change at every Christmas, always thoroughly respecting the most rooted traditions. And for this reason, it’s become a fixed yearly appointment for our village. The Infant Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, as well as the shepherds, wear traditional local costumes.

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