It’s no accident that as I head south through Sardinia, I enter the mountains and seek out the bandit capital of Orgosolo. Road signs peppered with bullet holes mark the route and old ladies dressed in black stare as I pass by.
At the beginning of the 20th century conflict between rival clans and the friction between the nomadic mountain shepherds and the settled cereal farmers in the valleys lead to large scale sheep rustling and murderous vendettas. In the 1950s, the well-practised bandits then decided that it was more lucrative to kidnap members of wealthy families, and local heroes such as Graziano Mesina were hailed as modern day Robin Hoods. As recent as 1992, an 8 year-old boy was held for 7 months and had his ear cut off before being released for an undisclosed ransom payment.
The only bandits I find as I walk through the town of Orgosolo are the ones which are painted on the walls.
Well known for its bright murals, the majority of the paintings in Orgosolo are political statements and, even though I don’t understand the Italian comments, I can clearly see the message being portrayed.
Others are records of historical events such as 911 and the fall of Sadam Hussein.
Some are very reminiscent of Banksy, and even in English.
There are murals of well-known people (Ghandi and Frida Kahlo) and others of local life.
However, my favourites are those which hint of the former feudal fights and the long lost bandits of Orgosolo.