Yesterday, just before receiving the news of my grandmother’s death, a friend wrote to me to say that she was going away to visit a friend about to give birth. I reflect on the coincidence of a life that is leaving, to make room for a new one that arrives. This is the human cycle. And I decided not to interrupt my journey. Today, I start a little comforted by the beautiful weather and the colors of Gallura, and I pedal in the nature thinking that grandma is here, scattered everywhere.
After several ups and downs and a very straight American-style stretch, I arrive in Telti, where the Mayor Gianfranco is waiting for me in front of the Town Hall together with Marilena and Paola of the Pro Loco. I put everything in the b&b Della Piazza owned by Francesca and Marco, and with Gianfranco we take the car to visit a bit of territory. We head to the rural church of San Bachisio, dated 1650, located in a beautiful valley bordered by granite peaks, near which you can also see old quarry signs. Gianfranco tells me he was born and raised in a small house right there among the peaks, and therefore forced to take long walks to get to the village.
Then he takes me to the other side, to Monte Pino, a beautiful nature reserve, rich in plant species, some unique of Gallura and Corsica. We reach the Forest Rangers lookout at the top. From here I reconstruct the entire geography of the area: the view reaches as far as the Bocche di Bonifacio in the north, the Gulf of Olbia and the island of Tavolara in the east, the magnificent Mount Albo to the south and the Limbara massif to the west.
We return to the village for lunch, and immediately afterwards I am joined again by Marilena and Paola of the Pro Loco, together with Danila and Salvatore who is our guide. Although I have already been to Monte Pino, Salvatore insists on returning, to show me a part “that you surely haven’t seen!” So after the “visits in the dark” series, today I begin the “double visits” saga! But actually we go up the mountain from the other side, in the midst of spectacular granites, scents of pines and nature (“breathe deeply” insists Salvatore) and breathtaking views. I also return to the Forest Rangers lookout, the view always the same, but different colors. It was worth going back for the second time!
Once back in the village we head to the beautiful little square of the church of Santa Vittoria, built in granite. They tell me that there once was a second church, Sant’Anatolia, now collapsed. All around a series of flags, for an upcoming feast. On the square there is also the Cultural and Naturalistic Museum of Sardinia, characterized by a beautiful iron sculpture in the form of a spider at the entrance. Giovanni guides me through the museum. Here, in addition to work objects of other times, there is also a beautiful display of insects, fossils and minerals.
It’s here that Giovanni teaches a group of children to play drums made of plastic bins. And today they gather to practice. I join them in a riot of frenetic rhythms, led by Giovanni. Then a woman from Oschiri, Gabriella, pulls out the Tibetan bells and creates a completely different atmosphere, definitely more calm, on which I can play melodies (and can hear myself!). Finally, while new people have arrived in the room, I tell my project to a mixed audience of adults and children, with Giovanni in the role of accompanying pianist, and then end the evening with a dinner of Gallurese soup offered by the Pro Loco.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Character 1. In the car tour of the territory Mayor Gianfranco tells me about the local poet Matteo Pirina, known as Cuccheddhu, also born in a stazzo, and writer of innumerable songs in Gallurese dialect, many with a religious theme. The elementary school of Telti is named after Cuccheddhu and its verses are remembered in a beautiful mural of the village.
Character 2. I start here to hear about the bandits of Gallura. Luigi Fresi, known as Laìcu Roglia, the bandit of the ‘stazzi’ was born in Telti in 1856. He became a bandit for an injustice received, and after killing all his enemies, he remained in hiding for many years, but working honestly. Although he escaped many times the Carabinieri, he was found dead in Golfo Aranci. It is not known whether he was killed during a firefight with the Carabinieri, or how relatives think, assassinated by another of his enemies.
Character 3. During the day they introduce me to the local priest, Don Javier, an Argentine. As soon as he hears about my project he tells me that he knew about a famous Argentine singer, León Gieco, who had toured the Argentine on a bicycle with a guitar. Unfortunately from my research I can find nothing of this endeavour, although I discover that a song by León is entitled El Ángel De La Bicicleta, dedicated to a young seminarian, Claudio “Pocho” Lepratti, who every day brought his assistance by bicycle at a soup kitchen and was killed by the police during a protest demonstration. However, a singer who traveled around Patagonia in the 1990s, was Jovanotti, who tells of the experience in his book “Il Grande Boh”.