Today’s journey is perhaps the worst of the whole project. The road is almost all uphill, strong wind and drizzle which then increases until it rains, and there are 8 degrees. It does not seem like a day in May but more like those that accompanied me along the way last November. When I reach a lake the temperature has dropped further and the humidity at its maximum.
I arrive in the village completely soaked and cold, and Tonino welcomes me, a friend advised by the now legendary Pietro di Orosei, who contacted Pietro, Antonella and Gianpiero of the Ai Bilozziu and Arkenatour Association, and the forest guide Gianni, who all come to meet me. I warm up with a hot tea and after changing at the hotel I am ready to start a tour of some producers of what is the symbol of the village: the pattadese knife.
First stop is the Bottega Fogarizzu, where the tradition of knife making has been handed down from generation to generation, today from father Boiteddu to sons Tore and Gianmario. The laboratory is beautiful, a space of other times, and Gianmario, who has already lit the fire, shows me some processing steps. As soon as the embers reach a certain temperature, Gianmario puts on the steel bar, which gradually turns red. Then he passes it to the anvil, the most interesting phase, because while it beats the hot iron it produces interesting rhythms, passing from the metal to the edge of the anvil to clean up the hammer from accumulated impurities.
On the central table, together with tools, also pieces of ram’s horns. I had already seen a video on the processing of this material in Arbus, and I ask Gianmario if he can show me live how to shape the curved horn straight. He takes a piece, leaves it on the fire for a while and then puts a press between the sides. After 10 minutes the horn has cooled and keeps the shape straight. Finally, he proudly shows us a spoon/ladle all in horn, and tells us about his grandfather who made them with great patience.
The next is another knife shop, this time completely different. Antonio Fogarizzu in fact produces knives with a contemporary design. His workshop looks more like a goldsmith’s. The handles of his knives are the most impressive thing, the finest inlays with the finest materials. He shows me a working model and shows me the blade, not sharp, telling me that most buyers are collectors and that often the blade is not sharpened because the knife will not be used for practical purposes.
From here we move to the workshop of Piero Virdis. This time it is a luthier workshop. As soon as I enter I immediately feel at home, hanging violins, jigs, tools of the trade, and some cellos. Piero tells me a little about his activity, which began after his studies with the master violin maker Bissolotti, who thanks to funds from the Sardinia Region, in 1998 directed a two-year course in violin making here in Pattada. Since then, Piero’s instruments have been sold around the world. I take this opportunity to check the ukulele, and then to try a cello, which sounds great (it’s me who’s not that good!)
In the afternoon the guys take me to the countryside, despite the day being horrible, decidedly winter, strong wind and it hasn’t stopped raining for a moment. We head towards Monte Lerno, that rises over 1000 m. Unfortunately, it is covered by clouds and today it would be useless to climb it to admire the view. We arrive at the dam on the Rio Mannu (another!), an enormous structure that forms an artificial lake, today very full. We go down to the shores of the lake and approach the remains of a medieval village, where there is also a nuraghe. The water of the lake arrives right next to it.
Back in the village we find ourselves in the centre, at the bar for a drink with the Mayor Angelo, whom I had already seen in Santa Teresa di Gallura. A chat and then we go to a rehearsal room where some guys are playing. I join them for a rock jam, before Gianni and I retreat to the hotel for dinner. On the way back, passing from the peak of San Gavino, to 900 meters of height, we witness an incredible sunset. It has been a long and tiring day in terms of climate and I realise I have neglected the beautiful architecture of the town center, which I plan to photograph the next morning. Hoping the weather is going to be better!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
“In Pattada you have 10 months of winter and 2 of cold!” – Sardinian visitor.
“You people in Cagliari are lucky, you don’t really know the real Sardinian weather” – someone in the Sardinian inland.
“You’re so lucky in Sardinia with the weather” – Milanese tourist to a Sardinian shepherd. The shepherd’s response “come and do my job all year around and you’ll see”.
After the exploit of “The man who bought the moon” in Sardinian cinemas, we have a new character, in the council hall, who is trying to sell the sun, “this weather of ours” (but which one?). Too bad (or fortunately) the sale has not started. This year we should have refunded all the tourists who came from the end of March to the end of May. And it would have been a tragedy for the Sardinian economy. Therefore it would be the case to try to sell something else to tourists, especially during low season. Maybe open some museum permanently closed? Arrange some archaeological site left abandoned? Provide accommodation facilities, low season services to European standards? And maybe get a move on learning some English.
I’m in a bar on the coast, there’s too much wind and cold outside, and even foreign tourists are indoors. At the cashier the waitress tries to understand if the tourist has to pay for (as I understand it) a cone ice-cream with two flavors. And arrogantly she asks him “One ice two balls?”. The tourist looks at her puzzled. And so am I. She insists in a louder voice “ONE ICE TWO BALLS ??” The tourist still does not understand. He must not have taken an ice cream. In English the word “ball” means ball, but since there is no game with two balls, when speaking in the plural, “balls” is often used to indicate the testicles (especially if the balls are two). And “ice” is different from “ice-cream”. Subtleties (but not so much) of the English language. At the statement “one ice two balls” the only thing that comes to my mind is an ice cube with two balls around it. Which perhaps, given this cold, is precisely what the tourist has in his underpants. And his perplexity perhaps means “hey, how do you know??”