Right, today is the real deal … the longest stage so far, and perhaps will be the longest of the whole project: about 60 kilometers. Not to risk getting lost among the Sette Fratelli peaks, maybe on stoney roads, I had only two options: either go back to the Orientale Sarda road down to Maracalagonis and take the coastal road from Cagliari to Villasimius, about 70 kilometers, or continue on the old Orientale Sarda, passing from Campuomu. I opt for the second, slightly shorter, despite having to cross two municipalities, San Vito and Castiadas, in which I will have to return in the next two days.
So I get on the road early, fly down the Burcei descent, and take the old Orientale Sarda, now with little traffic after the opening of the new, faster variant. The first part is still in the shade and very cold, but as soon as I pass Campuomu and enter the narrow granite valley the sun has risen and warms me up. The view is fantastic, I hear the sound of water flowing at the bottom of the valley and I stop to admire the cliffs along the road, up to the Arc of the Angel, the part where the jump is higher. I continue to cycle and get to the plain of San Priamo, municipality of San Vito. I stop at the bar of the small village for a coffee and I eat sandwiches that they gave me in Burcei.
I get back on my bike. This time I start to cross the municipality of Castiadas, very long and hilly, and it is always ups and downs. I overcome the former penal colony, where I will be tomorrow, and I regret having taken this path and not gone down more towards the coast, since tomorrow I will have to follow the same route… path errors! Also from here I have two options, the internal road or the coastal one. Today I opt for the internal … the climb is breathtaking, literally, and when I get to the top, after more than 50 kilometers, I fly downhill to Villasimius, exhausted.
The main street, the same that in summer would be impossible to ride a bike on, today is deserted. I arrive at the main square and stop to breathe. The bookshop is closed, next to some beautiful historic buildings. I call Mariano, a contact given to me by Michela, who I met in Sinnai, who will host me in his bnb. So I get on my bike and go down the road that leads to the beaches. I get to Mariano’s home, a beautiful villa with a panoramic terrace from which, while exchanging the first chat, we admire the view across the coast, to Porto Giunco, including the Isola dei Cavoli.
In the afternoon Michela joins us and we do a tour of beaches, crowded in the summer, but dead in this season, especially today that the day is beautiful. First stop, just a few minutes from Mariano’s home, is Punta Molentis, a very white beach with splashes of coral pink that ends on the promontory of rounded granite rocks.
We enjoy the silence before driving back to Cava Usai, right on Capo Carbonara, the most southern end of the east coast. Here the granite was quarried, very pure, and still remain the old stable and blocks of square granite that the coming and going of the waves have rounded.
We go back to the Old Fortress, from 1500, close to the tourist port. From here we witness a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Angels. And, as a last step, we pass to what was once the beach of Rice, so named for the shape of its perfectly circular grains of sand, completely disappeared after the expansion of the port.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Mariano gives me the directions to find his home “that white villa, with a large external lift on one side, you can not miss it, I’m out here watering the plants.” I take the straight road that goes down to the beach of Simius and I can see the house. The gate is open, and Mariano, on a wheelchair, waters the garden plants. I enter and introduce myself, we talk and start to know each other. Mariano tells me about his night club, the Blue Lagoon, once here in his villa, and makes me go see the back garden. He tells me about golden seasons, of all kinds of customers. Then we take the elevator and get into the fantastic terrace to admire the view.
Mariano tells me of his accident, a cargo of a ship that fell on his back leaving him half paralyzed at 30 years old. But Mariano fought and continued to enjoy life, with the night club, then he told me of many trips around the world, places with extreme discomfort for a disabled person and others where everything was easier. After recovering from a bad period, Mariano is now inaugurating a new phase of his home, first the activity of the B & Bio, an organic bed and breakfast for disabled people. Here, he is also starting yoga classes and other physical-spiritual practices, such as the sound massage with Tibetan bells.
Mariano goes up and down the house in a wheelchair and I struggle to believe that in this condition he can find so much energy to keep all these activities running. We say goodbye before going to bed because Mariano will leave very early in the morning. I just have to absorb a bit (in fact I hope a lot) of this attitude and desire to live and take it with me, hoping to one day be part of the yoga class on his terrace!