No cycling today. Viddalba and Santa Maria are contiguous and last night I stayed in a hotel already in the territory of Santa Maria. Plus, it hasn’t stopped raining and I take a chance to stay dry!
Councilor Antonio comes to get me. After a coffee we take the car. We cross the hills behind the village and go up towards the fortress of Casteldoria. The landscape is ghostly, clouds covering Mount Ruju and venturing down into the valley. We arrive to the base of the old fortress, of which the tower remains high, but we renounce to climb it for the pouring rain. From this height, we overlook the Coghinas valley towards the sea, and on the other side the Anglona and we can also see the Coghinas lake. All around are also the remains of the medieval village that once stood here.
We drive back down and, along the river, we arrive at the spa resort, exactly at the same point where I was yesterday but on the other side of the river, which acts as the municipal border between Viddalba and Santa Maria. The two banks are tied by a pedestrian wooden bridge through which you can access the forest on the side of Viddalba. On the side of Santa Maria instead there is a spa hotel, right on the granite banks, which here form a loop. I touch the water coming out of a big tap … hot! On the other side of the river, some tourists bathe in warm water.
Back in the village, I am “taken” by some Viddalbesi, Antonio from the choir, met yesterday, and his friend Claudio, a native of here but who hosted me with his wife Maria Franca in my now distant day in Narbolia. Today in fact the feast of San Leonardo continues, and the friends of Viddalba could not bear that I would lose the specialty of the day: the Gallurese soup, in their version! And so I spend a nice afternoon, perhaps appreciating this specialty for the last time.
Santa Maria is already Anglona but the Gallurese is still spoken here, which in all this time, with difficulty, I started to decipher. In the late afternoon, once back, I walk in the rain along the main street around which the town extends, to see the beautiful Romanesque-style church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (which together with the name of the river gives its name to this municipality.) Beside there is a small square with a particular monument to the fallen: the reconstruction of a nuraghe with a tank next to it! The persistent rain forces me to return to the b & b, where I end the day.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
As already happened in my day in Galtellì, even here I find myself visiting places that Grazia Deledda described in her stories. In one in particular, she talks about the castle of the Dorias, precisely the one that appeared ghostly this morning in the rain. Deledda speaks of a legend that says of an underground passage that led from the castle to the church of San Giovanni di Viddacuia (the current Viddalba) that I visited yesterday. The passage would have served the Doria family to go directly to Mass, on the other side of the Coghinas.
Then the Deledda tells of a sidewalk that leads from the tower of the castle to a place called Conca di La Muneta, where it is said that the Doria coined their coins. Here there would be a deep cistern with a bell in it. Those who passed by often threw a stone in the cistern to make this bell ring. Over time the cistern filled up and so today the bell is invisible. But before it was completely covered it is said that one man was able to go down and find hidden rooms with iron doors that seemed to contain the treasures of the Dorias. Neither the man nor anyone else ever managed to enter these rooms and it is said that the treasures are still there.
Finally, she tells of tall bastions, shaded by trees, to the west of the castle, where the Dorias strolled admiring the plain below and the flow of the Coghinas. It was in these places that the vicissitudes of the last prince who lived in the castle developed, apparently a certain Andrea Doria. But to learn about these events I refer you once again to reading Deledda, which I will also have to do at the end of the tour … my reading list grows!