I set off from Orosei, energised by the week of break from the project, and by the kindness and helpfulness of Pietro and Bianca, who hosted me for two nights and held my bike and luggage in Orosei, also took me to the airport in Olbia and came to pick me up last night, a week later, on a rainy night. The day today is sunny despite the pouring rain of last night, but later on there it will turn cloudy. I cycle the 36 kilometers that separate me from Siniscola swiftly, crossing basalts first and then reaching the granitic area, skirting the beaches of Biderosa di Orosei, and Berchida di Siniscola, beautiful but in which today I can’t dwell.
I enter the town, surmounted by the white Mesozoic limestones of Monte Albo, and in front of the Town Hall, now closed, Maria Luisa, a former colleague in geology who I haven’t seen for at least twenty years and who will host me, joins me. We leave the bike in her studio right in the center and take the car to go to Capo Comino before the weather gets worse. We arrive, leave the car at the parking lots and walk along Su Caminu de Artora that climbs up to the old lighthouse, well restored, among granites, junipers and flowering brooms. We are in the easternmost point of Sardinia, and the view is fantastic, the cliffs which then fade north into the white beach with the beautiful dunes behind, and the Isola Rossa in front, under us the new lighthouse. We take the opportunity to make a snack based on pompia, a typical dessert of this area, prepared with the homonymous citrus fruit, while we tell each other the past twenty years.
The weather is starting to get bad. We head to the village of Santa Lucia, a fraction of Siniscola, on the sea, where later we will be joined by a few people whom I will tell about my journey. Here a series of narrow streets lead to the seafront, where a Spanish tower dominates. From here we walk up to the Spiaggia delle Barche, a small cove where several boats are beached, some very old. Mari tells me that once it was full of boats stranded even in the water, but for safety reasons they have recently been removed, taking away a bit of charm from this place. We continue and stop at the edge of the main beach to eat, sausage, cheese, carasau bread, walnuts and Siniscola oranges.
After a coffee we head back to the tower square where people are approaching curious as soon as I pull out the ukulele. After a while there is a good mixed audience, of all ages, from small children, accompanied by their parents, including Mari and her son Giovanni, to elderly curious women. By now I have my format, I play a tune, I tell my project, I answer the questions, always many, I let the children try the ukulele and I play a final piece. People are happy, they always fill me with compliments and I’m happy too. Immediately afterwards we go to congratulate a lady whose house is on this very square and who yesterday turned 105 years old !
We return to the center of Siniscola to tour the historic center. We enter the church of San Giovanni Battista, where the mass is in progress, but we can see a marble, to the right of the entrance, with footprints of two hands, it is said they belong to Christ. From here we reach the church of Nostra Signora delle Grazie, with some beautiful murals nearby, and we pass in front of many renovated houses, of which only a few retain the original stone walls, others are now abandoned. I look for glimpses to photograph, alleys, old signs, walls, wrought-iron balconies, stone arches. Mari tells me how in ancient times the center had a triangular shape and was surrounded by walls, now all gone.
We then stop at the town cave of Gana e ’Gortoe, in the Mesozoic limestones. We don’t have time to visit it all, with the water and the mud of this period I would need suitable clothing. But we can visit the entrance and the first cavity, from which we cannot continue. With the lights of the phones we light up the walls to try to see the Geotritoni of Monte Albo, an endemic reptile species that exists only in this area, but unfortunately we don’t see any! The last stop is at La Caletta, a hamlet of Siniscola, at the Civic Music School, now closed, but which is opened for me by Franca, a teacher I met at the Civic School of Music of Lanusei, here in the role of administrative manager, who shows me the spaces and tells me about the school’s activities.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Maria Luisa is not only a good geologist but she also cares about the environment and has recently become a guide AIGAE (Italian Association of Hiking Environmental Guides). Today she comes to take me all well equipped, proper clothing, technical backpack, camera, and tells me I’ll be his guinea pig for the first official guide day! So throughout the day she illustrates every detail of what we visit and takes many photos.
Mari with two other members run the CEAS, Sustainable Environmental Education Center, located in Santa Lucia, a short distance away where I performed in the afternoon. She tells me about the activities they carry out, such as excursions throughout the territory, which extends from the coast up to the imposing Monte Albo, visits to the Gana e ’Gortoe cave run by them, and a whole series of educational activities for children.
But the thing that intrigues me the most is a series of itineraries that they intend to create in the future, to touch the so-called geodetic points, where Alberto La Marmora took altitude measurements. Initially only in the territory of Siniscola, but then also in the whole of Sardinia. And then she tells me about when La Marmora, on the Monte Albo to make measurements, met the shepherd who lived there and grazed the cattle in those hills, which, very wary, asked him who he was and what he was doing there. The communication between the two was not easy, since the shepherd spoke only in Sardinian, but in the end La Marmora was able to explain to him what he was doing. From that day on then, whenever La Marmora returned to this territory, the shepherd always made him find roast kid.