Today I finally understand why someone advised me to reverse Ballao with Goni in my path. After a little climb just left the village I arrive at a stretch with a vertiginous descent, with tight hairpin bends. Having to do it the other way around would have been a massacre. From up here the view is incredible, the clouds are below, in the valley, between the mountains.
I swoop down and arrive at the bridge on the Flumendosa. Immediately afterwards, another bit of climb and I soon arrive at an archaeological site that was recommended to me, the sacred source Funtana Crobetta, a beautiful sacred well with the steps that go down completely filled with water. Around the well there are remains of excavations, the area around still reserves some surprise for the archaeologists.
I cycle along the Flumendosa, I cross it again on a bridge, and after a flat stretch I arrive in Ballao. I head to the bnb Su Semucu where the owners Alma and Francesco await me. After settling down, I take another nice ride on my bike. I leave the village, through the bridge again and go up to the mountains in front of the village, reaching the Corti Rosas mines. The buildings are almost all abandoned except for some that have undergone renovations. But the place is ghostly quiet, above the silence only the sound of the old wooden windows that are blown by the wind. I arrive at the entrance of a tunnel called Autarchia, probably in the fascist period in which the mine was highly exploited. I can see inside, a long tunnel that ends up in the dark and I can imagine the miners, who until the 60s extracted mainly rocks containing antimony.
I return to the village to have lunch with the family of Alma and Francesco. Today, in fact, his son Enrico celebrates his birthday late, along with his cousin who is celebrating his a few days in advance, and they invite me to participate. A succulent lunch with the zeppole prepared by the other son Michele who runs a pastry shop right next door. After lunch I can work a little, then before it gets dark I take another ride inside the village to collect some impression and some glimpse to photograph.
I pass by the modern church of Santa Maria Maddalena, to photograph a beautiful mural at the entrance of the village, which recites a memory of Emilio Lussu “As a boy I witnessed several times the launch of food – slices of bread and dried figs – made from one side to the other of the Flumendosa, in the narrowest point, with the slings”. I understand a little how the river influenced the life of other times, based on variations in its size. I continue along the main road, observing some beautiful stone walls. In some houses the brick in Ladiri appears again. It disappeared from my sight for a good number of villages, those of Gerrei at the top of mountains, and it reappears here, in the plain of a river. I enter the narrow streets of the old town and go up to the highest part of the village where I can admire the whole valley below.
I conclude the evening for dinner with Alma’s family, and chat with their son Enrico with whom we have some things in common. The following morning, when I would like to pay the bill for my overnight stay Francesco tells me “do not worry, you are our guest”. It is not the first time that this happens on this trip and I can only thank them from my heart.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Enrico, 44, lives in London, in Bromley, has lived here for 15 years. We have a lot to tell us about our English experiences and about life in the capital. He tells me about his freelance business, WEM upcycling. Enrico builds furniture and wooden furnishings, carving them, and using recycled materials like old wooden reels. A type of objects that in England finds a lot of market. But then Enrico also tells me how before this job he had a hectic and overactive life. One day, gardening like a real Englishman, he felt sick. The ambulance arrived within minutes and the doctors saved his life. A heart attack, a fulminant one, called The widow maker. Since then, Enrico has slowed down his pace, he works in a school and has decided to devote himself to a creative activity.
The next morning Enrico must go to vote early because he then goes to Cagliari to take the plane to London. Another Sardinian who made his way into the “Big Smoke” with a creative activity, but who was about to be hopelessly struck by its hectic life. We promise to see each other there, maybe for my next concert. Have a safe trip back Enrico!