Tinnura, Sardinia – Where the walls don’t only have ears…

Sardinia is an island of secrets and quiet beauty, the most precious delights of which are likely to be tucked away from tour bus routes. Driving into the island’s hinterland on a warm May day, Monsieur and I rounded a bend on a country highway to discover one such unexpected treasure: the painted village of Tinnura.


Tinnura’s church lies behind these painted walls,


the priest and members of his congregation immortalised for all to see.


I wondered who this chap with traditional flat cap was:


What tales would he tell us in his mountain dialect?


Are these flowers of gratitude for an answered prayer? Or perhaps this member of Tinnura’s faithful has volunteered her flower arranging skills to the parish.


Even the pedestrian crossing adds colour to this quiet little town, made all the more quiet by the heat of mid-afternoon. Apart from the rare few souls we spotted venturing beyond the shade of their shuttered interiors into the cauldron-like streets, the only population we saw in Tinnura were painted into its walls.


The painter’s brush does not limit its work to celebrating the townsfolk of Tinnura alone; their animals also feature. Here a pair of horses ready themselves for a trot out of their frame and onto the street.  


On the side of a house a short walk from the main street, we see the ominous masked faces of players in an ancient Sardinian rite that some say dates back to prehistory. The matador-like man or isohadore looks all set to lasso a friend or woman in the invisible carnival crowd, taking his chosen one prisoner with a rope of plaited reeds. Meanwhile, the mamuthones in hook-nosed masks and shaggy sheepskin cloaks, are the fruit of a union between fire and moon, bearing the weight of cumbersome cow bells on their backs.


No masked beings from the underworld here, though. Life goes on in these walls, simple, daily life. These women are practising the art of basket weaving.


And this trio kneads, shapes and bakes loaves of bread to feed the Tinnurese – an apt scene for Tinnura’s Bread Street or Via del Pane.


But in Tinnura it’s not a case of all work and no play makes Giovanni a dull boy. Oh, no, the Tinnurese tap their feet to the songs of their friend, the accordion player, as one wicked reveller stumbles off with the wine.



This man plays the pipe, not just one but three at at a time.


Here we see that even the painted ladies of Tinnura have shadows.


Behind these folk busying themselves with the day’s chores, an ancient nuraghe sits on a hillside.


If you’re peckish, why not visit Tinnura’s baker? Rest assured, his loaves are never stale.


From this angle, the Wine Thief looks set to trip over the curb, spilling his liquid loot all over unlucky passers by..


This pair of monochrome images look like photos from an agricultural history book. See how they tilled the land?

With a living population of 268, Tinnura’s numbers are swelled by its painted people. Monsieur and I were only there for a fraction of an hour, yet this Sardinian surprise will stay in my visual archive for ever.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. planetross says:

    Very cool murals!

    Maybe they painted you onto a building after you drove out of town!
    It’s a good reason to go back!


    1. epicurienne says:

      PR – you’re giving me ideas. I think I’ll have to go back to Tinnura and if they haven’t already painted us on a wall, then I will find a rare blank wall and do it myself.


  2. Peter says:

    I also thought the murals at Tinnura were great and such a generally quiet place; we even looked at a house to buy near the centre with a muralled wall (not much light through the painted windows tho !).
    Apparently the comune arrange to have them repainted every couple of years so that would cut down on maintenance costs.
    Yours pics are clearer but you might like these 360 images of Tinnura at the end of the Bosa tour and more of Sardinia….http://www.360sardinia.net/itineries.php?tour=18


    1. epicurienne says:

      Hi Peter – thanks so much for your comment and the link. I loved Tinnura and would go back any day of the week, especially if there’s a chance that some of the murals have changed. Having them repainted with such regularity is a great incentive for local artists, keeping tradition alive. It’s interesting that you almost bought a house there. Where did you end up buying in the end?


  3. annmucc says:

    Oh WOW! Never heard about them but they look great! Another place to add to my ever increasing (and rarely decreasing) wishlist for places to visit.


    1. epicurienne says:

      Hi Ann! thanks for your comment. I would definitely recommend Tinnura and there’s another painted town in Sardinia called Orgosolo. We didn’t get there, but I’d like to visit on another occasion. In Sardinia there’s a fascinating mural culture. Even in the middle of Cagliari I spotted a big, white whale on one random wall in town.


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