The weather is not promising. My memory of May in Sardinia before moving to England was very different. Now it seems to me that I haven’t left Birmingham. Even for the incoming traffic to this important Gallura town, invisible, completely covered by low clouds.
I get to the Pausania Inn where I will be guest of the owner Elizabeth. Here, a large group of mountain bikers is preparing to go out. Their guide recognises me and greets me. I don’t envy them, the sky is black and it’s really cold. Shortly afterwards, Miriam meets me. She is part of the Balares company that manages the Majori nuraghe, and who will guide me today.
The first stop is at the train station. Here we meet Marco, who sings in the Gavino Gabriel choir, as well as managing the station bar. Marco guides us through this place, whose importance I slowly understand. Not just an important railway junction, but a guardian of time and art. The building dates back to the 1930s, and its waiting room is a Liberty-style jewel. The works of Giuseppe Biasi in the upper parts of the walls are beautiful. Leaving the main building we visit the depot, where there is still a very old restored locomotive, and a beautiful passenger wagon, luxury interiors, all in wood.
From here we move towards the center, Piazza Gallura, where the Town Hall is located. Here the buildings are all strictly in granite, gray like the sky above us. Very close to each other, three churches, in granite, Santa Croce, the parish church of San Pietro and the Oratory of the Rosary. Walking through the shops we stop at Anna Grindi’s atelier that invented Suberis, a cork fabric used to create different products and clothes. From here we move to the nearby Piazza Faber, dedicated to Fabrizio De Andrè, above which hangs a beautiful structure by the architect Renzo Piano and where the Spazio Faber is located, with an exhibition on the life of the Genoese singer-songwriter in Sardinia, and the tourist office.
Next stop is the public library, located in the former convent of the Piarists, a beautiful place. Here is the Bernardo Demuro museum, dedicated to the local lyric tenor who made international success, and of whom there are various memorabilia including old stage costumes of the most important operatic roles played in his career. Returning to the train station, we are joined by all the members of the Gavino Gabriel choir who pay me homage with songs in the beautiful waiting room, where I can also play with my ukulele, watched by some curious tourists and travelers.
Shortly before lunch Miriam takes me to the site of the nuraghe Majori, where her colleague Barbara is waiting for us. This is a very well-kept site, we walk along the paths enriched by informational signs on the flora, which reach the main body of the nuraghe, a massive structure, all in granite, unique for its peculiarity of being a dual-type nuraghe, corridor and tholos. Everything is explained to me in detail by Miriam. Inside, there is a colony of bats, a real ‘nursery’: they arrive in mid-April, reproduce in June and migrate in October. Miriam lightens them with the torch inside the tholos, the main hall. After the visit, we have lunch in the restaurant of the site, all local food, exceptional, liters of Smeraldina water, the local water recently counted among the 10 best waters in the world.
In the afternoon, I return to the hotel to rest and work a little. The cyclists from this morning are also returning, all wet and cold. It hasn’t stopped raining for a moment and the very low clouds cover all the surrounding mountains, preventing the sight of these incredible territories.
In the evening two events await me. The first is the presentation of my project in the central Bardamù-Ubik bookshop on Piazza Gallura. Always nice to play and tell my adventure in places of culture! Here are so many familiar faces: Mariantonietta, with whom I spent the days of Buddusò and Osidda, Viviana, who helped me on my day in Telti, and who, along with Miriam, is part of the company that runs the nuraghe Majori. The second event is at the association of amateur photographers ‘Sardinia seen close up’, where Tonina invited me to tell about my journey, also in its photographic aspects. The evening ends with a dinner at the restaurant Il Trenino owned by Tore, who proudly shows me an heirloom preserved in a window on the upper floor: a guitar that belonged to Fabrizio De Andrè.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
In 1969 Fabrizio De Andrè had a house built in Portobello di Gallura and so began his love for Sardinia. Only in 1976, however, he decided to buy land at Agnata, a hidden corner of Gallura in the municipality of Tempio Pausania. Here, together with his partner Dori Ghezzi, they renovated an old stazzo, they created a farm, they became residents of Tempio and here they got married, establishing friendships with local people, they conceived their daughter Luvi, always leading a simple and hard-working life. In August 1979 the two will be victims of a kidnapping until December of the same year. Despite this, they would continue to live in Sardinia and love it. Faber was fascinated by these desert and stony landscapes, with scattered trees, a bit like his soul, and right here he resumed his creative phase interrupted for a few years.
Despite not being able to go to L’Agnata on this trip, several years ago I visited it with the singers of the Andhira group, who were invited by Dori Ghezzi to discuss a record project, a tribute to Faber. So I had the honor of dining there with them and Dori, a beautiful woman, whose melancholy gaze was sometimes lost in memories. Despite the strong bond with Sardinia, Dori no longer spends much time here, but continues to work in memory of Fabrizio and his work, partly deeply rooted in this land.