San Salvatore of Sinis – Cabras

A superb scenery entices the photographer on this secret part of Sardinia.

Located only a few miles from Cabras lies a pretty and mysterious small town: San Salvatore of Sinis.

san salvatore of sinis village outside
San Salvatore Typical Village Houses – Cumbessias – Photo by MC. Sakanatravel 

The hamlet was built around the Sanctuary of San Salvatore a 17th-century church and one of Sardinia’s “Chiese Novenari” usually open only for the town main country festival.

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San Salvatore Typical Village Houses – Cumbessias – Photo by MC. Sakanatravel 

Nine days long celebration (Festa di San Salvatore) at the beginning of September.

san salvatore of sinis village
San Salvatore Typical Village Houses – Cumbessias – Photo by MC. Sakanatravel 

The cumbessias – small village unadorned dwellings – are opened to guests pilgrims from nearby towns that attend the religious gathering.

san salvatore of sinis piazza della festa detail
San Salvatore main square sign – photo by MC Sakanatravel

The peak of the commemorations commences at daybreak on the first Saturday of September with the barefoot race challenge, Corsa Degli Scalzi, a re-enactment of a frenetic salvage mission set about four centuries ago to rescue the statue of San Salvatore from Moorish repeated assaults.

Corsa degli Scalzi in the past Photo by Associazione is Curridoris

The procession involves over 800 town boys ( curridoris) barefoot and clad only in white shirts and shorts that run along dirt road following the statue of the saint from the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cabras to the township. The simulacrum is then returned to safe custody in Cabras the following day.

It is an amazing sight lived with full enthusiasm by the locals and tourists alike.

san salvatore of sinis village outdoor
San Salvatore Typical Village Houses – Cumbessias – Photo by MC. Sakanatravel 

The Church hides a beautiful and interesting past: just under the church left aisle lies a stone hypogeum (underground vault)part of a prehistoric pagan sanctuary carved into the rock which dates back to the Neolithic period, joined in Nuragic times with a water cult in a series of rectangular and circular rooms, where it is still visible a well and a spring source in the main chamber.

church of san salvatore
Sanctuary of San Salvatore a 17th-century church Photo by MC Sakanatravel 
san salvatore of sinis
Sanctuary of San Salvatore Entrance photo by MC Sakanatravel 

Later in the centuries, the sanctuary was dedicated to Mars, Venus, Cupid and Hercules as still visible graffiti and faded frescoes can be admired.

ipogeo of san salvatore sinis
Hypogeum of San Salvatore I chamber  just under the Sanctuary photo by MC Sakanatravel 

There are also drawing with black ink from a number of sources, most fascinating repeated “RF”, probably a Carthaginian prayer for healing that reads RUFU in their language. Greek and Arabic writing adds to the cultural melting pot, thanks to its proximity to the important port of Tharros and possibly dating back to attacks from Islamic marauders in the Middle Ages.
The chamber was also used as a prison in the Spanish period.

ipogeo of san salvatore inside details
Entrance to the Holy Well – under the Sancturary  Photo by MC Sakanatravel 

Of great interest are the ruins of Roman Baths (called “Domu ‘e Cubas) dating back the Imperial age (2nd century BC) with a beautifully colored mosaic floor and signs of the presence of a granary.
During the 4th century, the pagan shelter was transformed into an early Christian sanctuary, in fact, two rooms with rough altars and a large Nuragic basin to the sides were reused as a holy water source.

san salvatore of sinis hamlet
Fascinating small village house – cumbessias of San Salvatore photo by Sakanatravel 


Most of the year this beautiful hamlet is almost deserted, the sixteenth-century church surrounded on all sides by the shuttered cumbessias.


This magical town  was used as a set for various spaghetti Western in the 1960s and 1970s. due to the similarity to the landscapes of the American borders so with expert hands of famous film directors became a village of Arizona or New Mexico like the film “Garter Colt” in 1968.


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