My entry into the territory of San Vito officially took place a few days ago, in the stage from Burcei to Villasimius, and I have already seen some places, such as the nuraghe Asoru and the village of San Priamo. Unfortunately, even today I have to retrace a stretch of road that I already did yesterday to go to San Vito from Villaputzu.
I go back across the bridge on the Flumendosa and enter the state road 387, the same that after many kilometers arrives in Monserrato, passing near my parents’ village of residence Soleminis. Only a few kilometers, however, and I arrive in San Vito, with three signs of entry, the first of which surrounded by opuntia (prickly pear) plants, that prevent me from sticking the sticker of my project (well…not really!)
Shortly before the bridge at the entrance of the village, I enter a little area in the hills where Chiarella and Antonio live. They will host me today. Here I meet their four dogs (four generations in a row, great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter) and the mayor Marco, their neighbor. Under a nice warm sun and with the view of the mountains behind the village, they tell me about the event that left deep marks in the territory (as well as in Castiadas), the flood from last October. Also a stone’s throw away from here the river Uri has overflowed, flooding houses and transporting a huge amount of stones, sand and debris.
Shortly afterwards, Monica, who I already met in Elmas and who put me in touch with her cousin Chiarella, joins us. At the same time my guide of the day arrives, Rocco, whom I discover to be a good launeddas player, who in 2001 participated at Sanremo Festival with the Isola Song group. I, Rocco and Monica get in the car and drive towards Monte Narba where there is a disused mining site. The valley that rises towards the site is completely covered with alluvial debris transported during the last flood. When we arrive at the mining site the view is crazy: all the old buildings are half submerged by alluvial stones. Rocco shows us all the old buildings, the laundry, the workshops, the hospital, the Madama palace of the owners, with the ramshackle wooden frames, the miners’ quarters. Everything is in ruins and filled with debris, sometimes up to the now collapsed ceilings.
In the afternoon a member of the company changes, Monica is replaced by Fabio, but Rocco always drives his 4-wheel drive. We go to see the Domus de Janas just outside the village, and then go up to Cuccuru e ferrusu, from where we enjoy an excellent view of the village. From here Rocco shows me all the rivers and streams that descend to the valley and shows me the signs of the floods and the works that have been done to channel the waters.
Back to the village, we take a walk in the historic center. Many houses are still original, with beautiful wooden portals, and in the main street stands Casa Camboni, a beautiful building from the beginning of the last century. A little further on we reach the church of Santa Maria, of the late nineteenth century, where the saint feast takes place in the square. We climb higher up to the church San Lussorio, much older, from 1200.
Finally, we get back in the car to visit a sequence of incredible places outside the village: Sa Perda Manna, a rocky peak just over the village; S’arcu de s’arena, also called the sea of San Vito, a bend of the Flumendosa river where in the summer you can swim in the beaches and even dive from the rocks; Brecca, another old mining village reached by driving on a very steep and winding road. Passing by Sa gava, a granite quarry used to build the houses of the village, we reach the slopes of Monte Lora, with the characteristic profile of a woman, before going back to the village.
The flow of the river.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Chiarella came to meet me with her electric wheelchair which, as she told me in the evening, she must use for a disability contracted in her first year of life after a badly treated illness; in the hospital they diagnosed a polio (perhaps because of an epidemic that affected many children in 1954) but today’s neurologists tend to challenge the diagnosis made at the time and are aware of the fact that, while managing to give a new name to her illness, it would not be possible to improve its worsening over the years.
Chiarella regrets not being able to accompany me to visit the village with his territory and, for this purpose, leaves me to her friend Rocco. Despite the not easy situation, she has a contagious optimism; she tells me about her two Indian pen pals known at a distance in the last years of high school to improve her English. She tells me that one of them came to visit her but when he arrived at the airport of Cagliari he found no one to welcome him (the telegram arrived after him!) So he took the bus to San Vito thinking of going to a suburb, but was frightened, and not a little, when the bus began to rise in the direction of Campuomu and to cross the successive canyons; he regained his calm when he saw the sea (of which she spoke to him in the letters) and, fortunately, the driver took him at Chiarella’s.
She also tells me about her travels as long as she could walk at least a little. At home she lives a life as autonomous as possible thanks to her motorised wheelchair. She brings me to see some books on the territory of San Vito, including one on the silver mine of Monte Narba with beautiful black and white photos that show the ancient splendor of the site. When I leave in the morning, Chiarella is there on the terrace, on her wheelchair, along with Antonio and the dogs, saying goodbye me with a big smile.