170/377: Nughedu San Nicolò
The weather has improved. I cycle downhill at full speed, stopping to visit Bantine, the small fraction of Pattada. Then I continue in the direction of Ozieri, before ascending into the narrow valley at the end of which is Nughedu San Nicolò (not to be confused with Nughedu Santa Vittoria, near Lake Omodeo, stage number 24).
Arrived at the central square, Alberto, a guy from Oliena who manages a farm in the area, welcomes me, and we are joined by Giovanni Antonio from the Rural Heritage association, who will take care of my days here and tomorrow in Ozieri. The first visit we make is in the workshop of Marcellino, a pianist restorer. It amazes me a lot to discover such a professional figure in such a small village! Marcellin, arrived in Sardinia from Northern Italy, also repairs ancient keyboards, harpsichords, spinets, and shows me some beautiful models being repaired.
We move to one of the hills that overlook the village, where the little church of Sant’Antonio stands. From here we can admire the view of the village, as it lies on the valley and extends into the two edges, with tall houses that present a classic architectural element of this area, the roof terraces, bordered with a columned edge.
We climb further up the mountains, crossing cork oak woods and we arrive at the summit of Monte Pirastru. Here is a forest lookout. The view is incredible. We go back down to the village from the other side and for lunch I ‘trespass’ in the territory of Ozieri. In the afternoon I settle in the b&b Salighes owned by Rosa Maria, on the road that leads back to Nughedu.
In the evening Giovanni Antonio and Alberto come back to get me to return to Nughedu. We take a tour of the centre, small, but characterized by some beautiful historic buildings, especially those that overlook the main square, which show a little of the ancient splendor of this place. Also on the square stands the beautiful historic stone fountain, next to the Town Hall.
The members of the choir Su Cuncordu De Santu Nigola join us in the square. We head to the church of San Sebastiano, where the choir sings to me some beautiful songs, one on the poetry “Manzanile de sa tessidora” by Ciccittu Masala, a local writer. I exchange with some music on the bass ukulele, then the young son of a choir member pulls out an organetto and plays some dances, very different from the ones I heard long ago in central Sardinia, and that I try to accompany. After the singing, which took place both inside the church, under the altar, then in the sacristy, and finally outside in front of the church entrance, we go to the bar for a drink and a chat. They tell me how the new parish church has replaced three old churches that stood here in the centre and were demolished. Many consider it a mistake.
At the end of the evening, with Giovanni Antonio and Alberto we get back in the car to go up again to Monte Pirastru, where Alberto manages the homonymous agriturismo. Here Alberto himself serves us a good dinner of local products. I touch the swimming pool water outside. Frozen. And I wonder when the summer will come.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
The writer Francesco Masala, known as Ciccittu, was one of the great cultural figures born in Nughedu San Nicolò. Today I was able to appreciate his poetic text sung by the chorus of Nughedu. Ciccittu in fact, in addition to being a journalist and writer (his “Those with white lips” from which the film “Sos Laribiancos” was made) was also a poet of great quality. Inspired by Sardinian poetry, and in particular that of Peppino Mereu, Ciccittu published several poetry collections, some of which won him several poetry awards. With attention to both Italian and Sardinian languages, the themes were often those of the Sardinian people, a people humiliated and offended by history.
The encounter with Sardinian poetry on this journey will surely have an important place in the final musical production of this project. Poets no longer living in the villages I visit, such as Ciccittu Masala here, Peppino Mereu in Tonara, and many others, living poets who I met in many villages and who gave me (someone continues to send stuff daily) various poems, shepherds-poets, simple people who wrote me verses inspired by the my passage, and the poets in my family, my great-grandfather Pasquale Dessanai and my grandmother Fanny Satta. Everyone will find a small space in the final product of this project where poetry, even in a figurative sense, is the predominant element.