I get back on the road after a few days off with great enthusiasm, the day is sunny and twenty km await me. In the first part of the route there is a lot of climbing and uphill, passing in a former military road now open to public traffic. The territory is desolate, no sign of human presence except the road and wind turbines on the distant hills. The scenery is beautiful, valleys and mountains as far as the eye can see.
Once I get to the top, the view of the Rio Quirra valley opens up, where the 125 motorway that I see down like a strip passes. I start the descent, long, steep and full of curves, until I reach the bottom with my hands exhausted from the continuous braking. The last stretch before arriving in Tertenia is more or less flat on the Orientale Sarda road.
Councilor Barbara welcomes me to the village. After a coffee we head to the civic museum which is entirely dedicated to a native artist of Tertenia, the sculptor Albino Manca. Federica and Veronica guide me along the rooms, showing me a work and a human story of which I was not aware. Albino Manca moved and lived most of his life in America, he worked in New York but his will was to be taken back to Sardinia after his death. Here at the museum you will find everything, his tools, chalk casts, statues in bronze, plaster, medals, plates, he even made jewels, and his main theme was almost always animals. His monument dedicated to the American Marines dominates at Battersea Park in New York, in front of the Statue of Liberty.
Leaving the museum, we go to see the modern Beata Vergine Assunta church, whose reconstruction was desired and curated by Albino’s brother, Don Egidio Manca. In the streets of the town there are also many murals, and Barbara tells me that they are trying to make Tertenia the city of artists. Every year an event is held here that brings together artists of various kinds.
For lunch we are guests at the Agriturismo Cirra owned by Angelo’s family, the youngest councilor of the municipality, 20 years old, who is here today to work. We are served a delicious and high quality lunch, with the inevitable culurgiones ogliastrini, the suckling pig, and the casu axedu (sour cheese).
After lunch, Damiano and Paolo come to pick me up with a 4×4 car to visit the area. The first place, after almost impossible climbs on rocky roads, is the summit of Mount Siddus, where there is a fire guard of the forest ranger. From here we enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view. To the west the mountains, with the calcareous Tacchi behind Tertenia, to the east the sea, with the beaches, to the south the whole area of Cagliari, we can see the Punta Serpeddì, and below the valley of the Rio Quirra, with the tributary Rio Corongiu that joins it, and the 125 motorway. We are more than 500 meters high and the air is much cooler!
We go down on the other side to reach Barisoni, on the coast called Marina di Tertenia. Paolo tells me that there were some bauxite mines here and he shows me a strip of land that was the landing on the coast for the cargo boats of the material. We drive on another panoramic point from which we can admire the whole coastal valley. Here the territory is also divided with other municipalities that do not overlook the sea: there are strips belonging to Arzana, Loceri and Lanusei.
The next stop is the well-preserved tower of San Giovanni, on which we climb to admire the beaches on both sides. We complete the tour heading towards Mount Cartuceddu, part of the complex of Monte Ferru, which separates the territory of Tertenia from that of Cardedu. We arrive at Punta Is Ebbas where there is a former military complex. From there we could continue on foot to see Sa Perda Stampada, a hollow rock overlooking the sea, and the Cerbus natural pools, but it is too late and we return to the village, where the bustle of the carnival parade awaits us, carts that project loud music and masked young people dancing and having fun.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Tonight I’ll spend the night at the immigrant reception center of Sa Canna, technically in the territory of Jerzu, but not far from the town of Tertenia. The center is managed by Massimo and Marcella, the librarian of Sarroch who organiSed all the activities for that day. Sa Canna is in a plain just below the Tacchi of Tertenia. When I arrive, Ify, a young black boy welcomes me and takes me to my apartment, a spartan private building. Ify leaves me a moment and then comes back with a cardboard box containing my dinner, pasta with spicy meat sauce, roast sausage, eggs, salad, oranges. He asks me if I need something and then leaves me, telling me to go to the main complex the next morning for a coffee.
I wake up with a spectacular day, in a silent and magical environment with the view of Tacchi. I head to the main complex where Oliviero, the cook who prepared yesterday’s dinner, welcomes me and apologises for the fact that I had to eat it cold. A couple of black guys clean the kitchen and make coffee. Oliviero tells me that by now there are no more figures to keep these center open, and that with their closure there will be quite a lot of people out of work, and the few boys left here who will be left “out there” to survive in one way or another.
Today, after more than four months of traveling, it is the first day I met a few migrants, and they did not frighten me. Living in the English reality, where different cultures have been accepted and integrated for centuries, makes me think of the senseless fear that exists here in Sardinia, of the invasion that is not there, of crime, of the stolen work, of the public contributions received. I am much more afraid of local crime, of local motorists who attempt my life every day, of those waiting to get a job without looking for it or building it, local administrators who throw money, millions of euros of people, in works that remain unfinished, present in all the municipalities I visit. This is what we should be afraid of and fight. The rest can only enrich us … and will do so, perhaps in 100 years…perhaps.