Today I resume my project after having stopped for a few days for the concert in Birmingham. I leave Buddusò (fairly) soon, and return to Osidda, on a much better day than the one in which I visited the village. Then I take the road that leads me to Nule, among the green, sunny fields, crossing the Tirso river and leaving the last village in the province of Nuoro to enter the province of Sassari. After several ups and downs I arrive in Nule.
In the main street there are barriers. Today is the first day of the Idda de Manos Bonas feast. After a coffee in a bar offered by gentlemen sat at the tables outside, I head to the centre where I ask for the Mayor. “There he is,” someone says. Giuseppe, the Mayor, greets me and organises the day for me. Gian Carlo joins us and takes me to eat pancakes and pecorino in a very old corner of the village.
The centre is all set up for the feast, with traditional carpets hanging from the windows of many granite buildings. Gian Carlo takes me to Colle San Paolo from which we enjoy an incredible view over the area known as Sa Costera, the side of the Goceano mountains, with all the villages I will visit in August, Bono, Bultei, Anela. Benetutti below us. Gian Carlo tells me that once there was a single village, then some inhabitants moved higher, creating Nule.
Pierpaolo joins us, who I discover to be a granite sculptor, an expert on the history and archeology of the area. Chatting, I realise here, as in Osidda, the language is more Nuorese than Logudorese or Gallurese. Pierpaolo explains to me that Nule is the first town of the Sassari province but being wedged between Bitti, Orune and Osidda, it has retained much of the Nuorese dialect. Then he tells me that the Danish scholar Bentzon, in addition to having made a meticulous study of launeddas (which Pitano well described to me in Maracalagonis), lived here for five years, to study the singing of the tenores of the village (and he also managed to bring them in Copenhagen in front of the Danish queen!)
Once back in the village we head to the ISOLA center, where, in addition to a permanent exhibition of rugs created by artists of all kinds (including one that was exhibited at the Venice Biennale), there is the beautiful exhibition “I tell you a chair”, where the theme of weaving joins that of the chair, an object that is part of the life of all of us, listens to stories, beautiful or ugly, witnesses the flow of events with us. And also today, here, there is an exhibition of which I have not only heard of, but of which I have seen a preview of some works under construction! This is “Maria Lai – Going away. Tribute to Grazia Deledda “, a series of beautiful tapestries made by textile laboratories of 23 municipalities, Galtellì, Aggius, Nule, Sarule, Samugheo, Mogoro, Dorgali, Tonara, Atzara, Villacidro, Ulassai (where I saw it in production!), Bonorva, Villamassargia, Mamoiada, Muravera (and even here I saw it being made!), Zeddiani, Armungia (and here too!!), Bolotana, Oliena, Isili, Urzulei, Siliqua and Nuoro.
Then with Pierpaolo, Peppà as I call it too by now, we take the car and go to see first his beautiful sculptures at his home, then his land where not only is a country house all in granite that he is building, open and with a large courtyard, but also not far away there are the immense granite boulders that he cuts and works, to make statues, or parts of the house! He shows me how granite has two preferential splitting directions, and tells me that this knowledge was handed down to him by his father, and his grandfather, “granitieri” for generations! The last stop is the beautiful Nuraghe Voes, which I am wisely illustrated by Peppà, in all its details of the well-preserved corridors, towers, courtyards and external walls.
Back in the village I take a tour of the “apposentos”, the houses that host various handicraft exhibitions, obviously textile, but also gastronomic. Although I really like traditional rugs, I am struck by a couple of young artisans who make more ‘contemporary’ products, in line with my artistic vision, like Valeria from De Incantos and Sara from Tappus Campus.
I conclude the evening at dinner in a large table inside the refreshment point, hosted by Giovanna, Fabio’s girlfriend who took care of me at Bitti, and her family, who delight me with the delicious products of their Pastificio Artigianale!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
For dinner, at the table, on the side next to me, sits a family with two little girls. The man arrived first and speaks with local men, in Italian and Sardinian, and I notice a slight accent. During dinner, I decide to talk to him. I discover that Florin and Corina are Romanians (I would not have told from the accent!) and their girls Elèna and Stefanìa (as they pronounce them) were born in Sardinia. They’ve been here for 13 years, and Florin tells me that before making the baker he did everything, milked sheep, worked in the fields, he even was a car mechanic. Although he has brothers and sisters scattered throughout Europe, including England, he tells me he loves this land and wants to stay here. When they leave, to bring the girls to bed, I feel enriched by this chat!
A few weeks ago the Cagliari-based designer and artist Carolina Melis received the Sardinian Woman of 2019 award, established in 1987 by the Lionesses and “intended for women who have distinguished themselves for their professional or personal activity”. I’ve known Carolina for many years. One of her most beautiful works this is the best place to mention is the “Flames of Nule”, a short film made in 2010, produced by the Regional Higher Ethnographic Institute, which tells the story of three weavers. This experience led her to get closer to the world of weaving in Sardinia, producing a series of carpets with a unique and personal style (which among other things I saw exhibited in the Su Marmuri textile laboratory in Ulassai). After years of study and work abroad, Carolina has now decided to live and work in Cagliari.