Today is one of the stages that scared me the most, both for the climb and for the weather, since Burcei is very high and the risk of ice is always present. But the day looks beautiful and there is no risk of snow. Plus, I’m in a good mood because today is day number 100!
At the exit of Maracalagonis I take the motorway 125 for the first time, the Orientale Sarda, which reminds me that for several months I will be in this side of the island. The traffic in this stretch is intense and I cycle a few kilometers in tension, until I reach the new stretch of motorway 125, where most of the vehicles turn, leaving the old road free.
I pass from the villages of San Basilio first and San Gregorio then (both in the Sinnai municipality, but the churches belong to Maracalagonis!) where I make a stop to prepare for the big climb and the famous hairpin bends. I cycle up to the Arcu e’ Tidu pass and take the left for Burcei. I’m still rising. Before entering the village, I turn to a small country road from where I enjoy a breathtaking view of the whole of southern Sardinia, Cagliari, the gulf, up to the Sulcis Iglesiente.
As I reach Burcei I go to photograph the Town Hall, next to a beautiful pine forest where a few years ago I played, and then I stop in a bar to work, waiting to meet Marco and Maristella who will host me for the day. Once at home, we grab a bite and together with their daughter Noemi we get in the car for a tour of the area around the village.
Going down the northern slope of the village you come to a valley cultivated almost exclusively with cherry trees. Right here in Burcei is the cherry festival in June. We climb up the other side of the mountain and we come to the remains of a nuraghe. All around collapsed boulders. The view from here is beautiful, mountains, the peaks of the Sette Fratelli, and valleys. Before returning to the village we drive in the opposite direction until we reach a vantage point from which you can admire all the Sarrabus-Gerrei up to the mountains of Gennargentu on one side, and Punta Serpeddì with its forest of antennas on the other.
Back to the village, we take a walk around the center. It is not very old but you can still see red granite walls and some ancient houses. Here and there some water wells. They tell me that public water service came here only in 1975. In the walls there are some murals, some contemporaries I like more than classic ones. Some old portals, a beautiful one in the square with the war memorial. Then we arrive at the church, with a beautiful dome covered with colored majolica. The tour ends with a visit to Marco’s grandparents’ house, one of the few remaining ancient houses, with still preserved old objects inside.
The evening continues with a musical meeting with a group of guys, Sardi on the Road, who organise trips by motorbike for tourists. They also run a local in the village, where we improvise a jam session with guitar, launeddas, accordion and bass ukulele. Thanks to the arrival of a young improvisational poet, some ‘trallalera’ (typical Sardinian improvised songs) started and I was even granted an improvisation in honor of my passage to Burcei!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Meeting-not meeting. Mattia Collu is a drummer from Burcei who lives in Bristol, England. Although we never met, we knew each other by name, not living so far away (Birmingham is less than two hours away by car), and having mutual friends in the English jazz scene. I do not know how Mattia came to know my request for hospitality in Burcei, but when he wrote to me saying that the family was available to help me, I immediately accepted. So today I spent the day with his parents Marco and Maristella and his sister Noemi, fantastic people with whom I celebrated the hundredth day of the project. Mattia remains the only member of the family I have not met yet. The hospitality network also activated ‘with eyes closed’! So I hope that sooner or later we’ll meet , who knows if in Sardinia or England, and maybe we’ll have a jazz jam session together!