These days there won’t be a long way to go. As already happened in the Cedrino valley, here too the series of villages that overlook the Coghinas river valley are very close. I arrive at Viddalba main square, overlooked by the old church of the Virgin of Pompeii, all in volcanic stone, a clear trachyte, with which the whole town was once built (hence the name Viddalba, Villa-alba).
Antonio and Gianmario, members of the Viddalba choir, are waiting for me. We are joined by deputy Mayor Piermario. After a coffee we head straight to the Piazza del Comune, all in white marble from Orosei, which is also overlooked by the library and the Archaeological Museum. Here, I am guided through the beautiful finds that come from the Roman necropolis of San Leonardo: stems and funerary objects of all kinds arranged in a beautiful display.
From here we go to see the beautiful church of San Giovanni, once collapsed but well restored in 2007, and then to the archaeological park of San Leonardo, right next to the homonymous country church and the new cemetery. This is the area where almost all the museum exhibits come from, inhabited since the Nuragic times, and with an overlap of eras, first Roman, then medieval, with the remains of a village on a small hill, still to be discovered. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the river, the rugged red rocks of Mount Ruju, and the castle of Doria in the territory of Santa Maria Coghinas where I will be tomorrow, but which is only a kilometer away from here.
Before lunch they take me to see the Coghinas river, in the middle of a rocky valley, where, next to a forest, 78 degrees thermal water gushes out. One has to be careful not to get burned! In the bend of the river the water is always warm. For lunch we are together with the other members of the choir, Pasquale and Gavino. After a good lunch, with typical Mazza Frissa Gallurese, exceptional meats and wine, I am honored with a series of songs, some typical of this area. Sitting in the middle of the four voices I enjoy the harmonies and I decipher the changes of tonality.
In the afternoon councilor Irene joins me and takes me around the area. She tells me of the fact that Viddalba has been Municipaluty only since 1975. Before it was, like so many other countries in this area, hamlet of Aggius, and is the last village in Gallura. In fact, beyond the river we are in Anglona. In the territorial divisions, the coast in front of Viddalba was held by Badesi, while Viddalba kept all the territories that go towards the mountains.
We then go up a steep road that leads us to the hamlet of L’Avru. We are very high up, very close to the peaks with wind turbines in operation, of which we can hear the noise. Here is a sculpture in honor of the Muto di Gallura, the famous bandit of Aggius, who used to go to find Gavina, whom he fell in love with, and where he probably died. From here we move towards the fraction of Giuncana and Irene shows me Le Piscine, a center where you can swim in the hot thermal waters. She also talks to me about the Sardinian Thermal System, which protects and promotes the thermal waters and the municipalities that own it, Viddalba, Bultei, Benetutti, Santa Maria Coghinas, Sardara and Fordongianus.
Before dinner I attend the parade of horses that carry the saint’s flags around the village, then Tonino and Giovanna, friends of the deputy Mayor Piermario, come to take me to dinner at the feast of San Leonardo, which takes place next to the country church. Here, in the long tables set up by the committee, we eat delicious tripe. I enjoy this evening while the first drops of another spring weather turbulence that should last for the whole weekend come down.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
As soon as I arrive in the village, I meet Antonio and we sit down right away at the bar for coffee and a chat. After a while Antonio tells me “You speak Italian well!” … I remain slightly puzzled and I answer embarrassed that being Italian, from Cagliari, my Italian is necessarily good! “Aaaahhh” replies Antonio “I thought you were English!” I’m used to it by now. A traveler on a bicycle loaded like a mule is hardly Sardinian. In addition, the voice of a musician traveler who “lives” in England has spread and therefore it is taken for granted that I am English. And the surname doesn’t help. If not when I pronounce it separately De Sanai that sounds like “to be cured”, then they start laughing and understand that I am really Sardinian.
Then there are those who believe I am Nuorese, due to the fact that my tour started from Nuoro, and with the complicity of some local newspapers that for a good deal of articles continued to attribute to me that provenance of “Nuorese musician”. Fortunately, a beautiful article recently published in the press fixes the previous errors and ironises about my accents, musical when I play, British when I speak English and from Cagliari when I speak Italian!