Today a long stretch, through part of the Costa Smeralda. I want to avoid the 125 road, thinking it is very busy, and instead the roads I choose are much busier than I thought! I will find out later that people avoid the 125 for its too many turns! After leaving Golfo Aranci, I cycle along the Gulf of Marinella, past the hamlet of Rudalza and I take provincial road 73 passing by the beautiful Gulf of Cugnana. The day is amazing and if there wasn’t all this traffic it would be even better!
Leaving the coast, I slowly climb inland, among granite valleys and arrive at San Pantaleo, a hamlet of Olbia. Here I decide to pause for a coffee, and from its price I realize to be in Costa Smeralda. The centre is very nice, old buildings in restored granite, which once housed artists’ workshops but which today are high fashion boutiques. However, going around the side streets, you can still breathe a bit of authentic Gallura.
I continue downhill and after a couple of crossroads I get on the 125. Shortly before entering the village, I stop at the reception of archaeological sites, there are many scattered throughout the territory, but today I have no contact and I decide for once to give up to archaeological visits to devote myself to solitary exploration of the village and to writing.
I headed straight to the countryside, to Marilena’s home, a friend of Selenita and Gianni, who kindly left me the keys to her house in Olbia. After a short country road, in the middle of a narrow granite valley, I arrive and it is already time for lunch. I eat and rest a little and in the afternoon I take the bike to explore the town and its surroundings.
I cycle a bit uphill and arrive at the base of the beautiful steps in front of the church of Santa Lucia. I cycle along the Corso Garibaldi, very elegant, and I am struck by a sign: “the smallest museum in Italy”. I park the bike, enter the door and say hello. There is nobody. I immediately understand that the museum is a room that can be visited by oneself, and it tells the story of Arzachena and the Costa Smeralda, decorated with some old objects.
Left the museum, I cycle next to the church of Santa Maria della Neve, and arrive at the central square, with the Town Hall. From here I take a side street that leads me to the Roccia del Fungo (‘mushroom rock’), a natural granite sculpture on top of a hill, right inside the village. I hear music and see boys, right under the ‘hat’ of the mushroom, with a radio at full volume!
I pedal further and sight a large granite ledge at the end of the village. I get there by bike, and then on foot. I climb a little and from here the view is exceptional. The whole village, with the ‘mushroom’, and around the territory, the vast plain, the mountains of San Pantaleo and Gallura. I stay here for a while in contemplation, then return to Marilena’s house, a place of peace and silence, where I stay to write and play all evening and night.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
On 7 September 2002, for the patronal festival of Arzachena, the famous Italian singer Raf gave forfeit at the last moment. Fortunately for the Sardinians, an exceptional name was available to save the evening by replacing the Italian singer-songwriter. Peter Gabriel. The English artist was in fact there on vacation at his residence in Arzachena, in Li Capanni, near the Golfo delle Saline going towards Palau (I will pass by tomorrow.) That year, after years of absence, the Up album was released and Peter presented a preview to Arzachena. In 2004 he would play in Cagliari, at the Fiera Campionaria, where I was also present.
Gabriel’s love for Sardinia goes beyond the Costa Smeralda. In 1996 in fact, with his label RealWorld, he produced the record S’Amore ‘e Mama by Tenores di Bitti. And since then he regularly spends his holidays here, where he often broadcasted his Full Moon video newsletter. Because of his affection for Sardinia, Arzachena granted him honorary citizenship, which was granted only to the founder of the Costa Smeralda, the Aga Khan. And his visit to the Town Hall of this distinguished English gentleman with a white goatee, after crossing the main square, filled with stalls, went almost unnoticed.