Last day before another break for a concert in the Netherlands. And it’s another tough one, but beautiful. I leave early in the morning, the temperature is low but the sky is clear. It seems that the name Escalaplano describes my journey, the climb of a long uphill plane, until I descend towards the Flumineddu valley, following steep bends on overhangs. The view extends south over all the Gerrei mountains, and I can see the antennas of Punta Serpeddì and the Sette Fratelli peaks. Crossing the bridge over the Flumineddu I find a very tough climb. I’m officially entering the Ogliastra region. I stop a couple of times until I reach the top of the Perdasdefogu plateau, where the geological change is announced by the famous Mesozoic limestones of the Tacchi area, visible in the distance.
I arrive in the village and head to the bnb Signorida owned by Anna. I leave bike and luggage and I go out to visit the village. First the historic center, many houses are well restored, other ones are very old with limestone in sight. I find several murals, modern and an emblematic writing perfectly sums up the reality of many areas of Sardinia “we have no wifi network but after two glasses of wine we surf marvellously”. I climb up to the small church of San Sebastiano, from the 11th century, completely open on the sides, with beautiful stone arches inside, restored with a wooden roof.
Going down to the lower part, I arrive at Piazza Longevità, dedicated to the centenarians of the village. One year Perdasdefogu had the oldest woman in the world, 108, and the family with the most centenarians, thus entering the Guinness Book of Records. I entered one of the 5 so-called “blue zones” of the world, where they live longer (along with Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California, the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica and the Greek islet of Ikaria). It is incredible to think that right here in Perdasdefogu there is an enormous military structure, the Interforces Polygon Salto di Quirra, on which investigations have been made regarding the pollution produced by the metals contained in the weapons. The centenarians do not seem to have noticed.
While I go to the restaurant La Ruota, someone honks and greets me. I recognise Aldo, one of the guys I met in the midst of a storm of wind and sleet in the mountains of Vallermosa in my day there. Aldo joins me for lunch. I am welcomed in Ogliastra by a nice plate of culurgiones.
Aldo works hard to organise the afternoon to visit the area. We find Gianni, an expert guide who takes us to Is Tapparas, a wooded area where coal was once produced. We walk for a while among the calcareous stones and we arrive at an area of diaclases, narrow and very deep vertical cracks in the limestone. One of these can be visited. We walk along it, descending thanks to the help of a rope in the wall and inside the feeling is incredible, raising our heads we see a strip of light and the external trees, but we are far below. In this area we find the Geotritons, species of reptiles unique to the cave environment.
Once out, we walk in a land where we must be careful not to end up in a hidden crack, the void would be very deep, and we arrive at an incredible panoramic point, from which we see the calcareous heels of the Jurassic, which characterise this area. In the valley one can see the structures of old mines and Gianni shows me different points in the slopes where there are archaeological remains. Not far from here, immersed in the forest, which also contains a community of deer, is the Speleological Center, where educational activities are also held, including rope descent on a wall right next to the building.
Back in the village, we visit the Ceas Museum, Sustainable Environmental Education Center, curated by Gianni, with impressive collections of fossils and minerals, both Sardinian and from all over the world, and insects. Also a series of stuffed animals in an environmental reconstruction in a diorama, with the sounds of the environment and the verses of the various species. There is also a set up of speleological equipment, ancient and modern, in continuous development.
I go back to dine at La Ruota, where the television begins to provide the first results of yesterday’s votes, which coincide with my prediction. After the pizza, I go back to Anna’s bnb. The temperature has dropped and tomorrow I expect an early start to leave for Cagliari airport, destination Holland. The fourth brief interruption of my tour.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Anna, a retired teacher, tells me about the activities she carries out in the village to spread the culture, especially to the new generations. She is working with a group of young people on a theatrical performance and tonight she is here with a young actress to teach her the part. Then she tells me about the festival ‘Seven Eves, Seven Squares, Seven Books’, of which her famous brother Giacomo is artistic director. A series of events, readings, book presentations, concerts, which take place outdoors in different parts of the village.
With a touch of pride she also reveals to me that she is the first to proofread her brother’s books, who asks her to use the red and blue pencil that she used with students to correct mistakes without mercy. And she advises me to read a book by Giacomo that is placed on the table, The Oven and the Horn, which emerged from the interview with two elders, and which brings back their memory of events during the Second World War, the oven is that of the concentration camps, the horn that announced the imminent bombing. I add the title to my list of books to read at the end of this tour, in which I decided to avoid reading and listening so as not to influence the inspiration given to me by the places I visit.