187/377: Bulzi


Today, just a few kilometers all downhill along the valley bordered by white limestone. I arrive at Bulzi, welcomed at the entrance by a Madonna on a beautiful fossil trunk … an omen of the tone of this day.


Claudio welcomes me, a surveyor who also works as a guide to the church of San Pietro delle Immagini. After a coffee, Claudio takes me around the beautiful historic center of Bulzi. First stop is the small church of Santa Rughe, rebuilt in the 50s, which contains a beautiful statue of the Christ of the ‘500. Not far from here is the Funtana Manna, a nineteenth century fountain with two lateral pools, whose water comes directly from the Silanis river. Then we go to the church of San Sebastiano, with a beautiful Romanesque façade in white limestone and red trachyte elements. Here is a beautiful retable from the late 1500s Spanish school but above all a very precious wooden group from the 1200s, on the altar, which depicts the deposition of Christ, a rare example of this moment, perhaps produced in Tuscany, and once belonged to the church of San Pietro delle Immagini and then brought here.


For lunch I buy some sandwiches and head to the countryside, pedaling on a beautiful day, it seems that the good weather has finally arrived. I get to the rural church of San Pietro delle Immagini, visible already in the middle of the fields from the distance, and I sit in the shade on the tables around the reception to have lunch. I take this opportunity to take a walk towards a riverbed, crossed by a wooden bridge, then I go back to the reception, crossing volcanic rocks dug out, observing the imposing church, and I go to work waiting for Claudio to arrive, on duty here as a guide in the afternoon.


Claudio arrives on time, with his cousin Gianfranco who leaves me the keys to his house where I will stay tonight. We approach the church, two-tone coloured, white limestone and a dark red ignimbrite. We start the visit. First, all around the outside, full of statues, symbols and images, especially that of a bearded man at the entrance, perhaps a Franciscan friar, hence the name ‘of Images’, although it is also known as San Pietro del Crocifisso, for the presence of the important wooden group now in San Sebastiano. We go inside. A sober and mystical atmosphere. The dual colour tone continues, but with more dark stones. Light enters through the various windows. Next to the altar a font on a fossil trunk (to remind the importance of the paleobotanical park that unites the municipalities of Bulzi, Martis, Laerru and Perfugas). We go back out. Around the church there are the remains of the old monastery and Claudio explains to me that even the reception was once the home of a hermit.

I return by bike to the village, where I settle in Gianfranco’s house and start working and arranging the day’s notes on all the details of the churches. Some bells ring. Memories of the day in Sorradile and mystical melodies resonate in my head.






I dream (but Claudio has actually described all this to me) the symbols outside the church of San Pietro delle Immagini. The numbers of the facade elements: 42 arches at the top, the days of the exodus, 7 larger arches underneath, the perfect number, 3 large arches further down, the Holy Trinity. The right side of the church is that of death, burials have been found, the left side of life, given the symbologies, capitals of various animal and vegetable figures, parchments, a figure that greets in the direction of the old way of arrival, which united all the other churches in the area on a journey for pilgrims, through Sedini, up to Tergu and Castelsardo.


Domenico arrives at the reception / little house of the hermit. Domenico has written a book about the church of San Pietro which is on sale here. The most interesting thing is the study of the lights entering through the slits and windows. All of these have in fact been designed on the basis of summer and winter solstices and they send light at precise points according to the season. Every three hours the light falls on different points, following the prayer cycles. The light falls on particular stones, with a different shape from the others, then the lights form symbols, crosses, bright points like the nails of the cross, and then there are points gradually illuminated from one window to another. This is impressive. When we visit it together I can see some of these phenomena, but in the book Domenico has documented the various types, standing in the church for 24 hours in the days of the solstices, photographing all the possibilities of light, … except one. One full moon evening he went to the church without a camera. The church was all lit up with a beautiful blue tone, never seen before. At a given moment, which lasted vey little, the moonlight illuminated the altar. A moment that Domenico could not seal on a photo. I wonder if he will have the patience to come back another full moon night, hoping that this mystical astral coincidence is not repeated every hundred or thousand years!