192/377: Martis



Beautiful day, I cycle down from Chiaramonti and after a few kilometers among green fields I reach Martis. I stop in a cafe to work and wait to meet my contact.

By now summer heat has arrived. I challenge it by taking a ride to explore this little village. In a small square I am struck by a sculpture on the wall that reminds some of the monument to the victims of the Holocaust in Berlin for its greyness. I pass by the Town Hall and then go down to the main road, stopping at the little church of Santa Croce and I venture into the narrow streets of the historic centre to reach my host’s house.

I get to a house located in a narrow street, behind the church of San Giovanni, and by chance Giovanni welcomes me, Tuscan accent. I discover he moved here to his grandparents’ house. I am introduced to a group of foreign young people hosted by Giovanni, Victoria, from Boston, Pablo half Dutch half American, Matilde and Elisa, both French. Giovanni cooks for everyone and the atmosphere is international.


In the afternoon Davide joins us, offering me to go and see two iconic places in this area. Victoria also comes with us. She arrived here only yesterday and she is interested in seeing something cool. The first stop is at the church of San Pantaleo, visible in the fields just outside the town, in the lower part. The structure, in white limestone, abundant in the area, is now abandoned due to an important movement of the earth that literally caused the altar part and different parts of the church to collapse. It seems that the area was worshiped for the presence of water, a possible cause of the landslide, and not far from here there are also the remains of a temple dedicated to Mars (hence the name Martis). We venture inside, between the columns and the partially collapsed roof, up to the sunken altar area, where the remains of frescoes are still visible.


Second stop is at the Paleobotanical Park where there are the remains of the famous Carrucana forest, an area rich in fossil tree trunks. I have already seen specimens in the nearby towns, in Bulzi and in Perfugas, and here, in a green field, lie several hollow boulders. Unlike other fossil trunks, these are boulders of limestone inside which there were trunks that were then dissolved, leaving holes in the surrounding stone whose inner walls still have the grain of the wood. Nearby there is a wooden structure, with a bizarre architectural style, winner of the Council of Europe Landscape Award. We walk a little in the field up to the stream that flows in the lower part, taking some shade in the part set up for picnics.


We return to the village where we meet all the other guys. We take more cars to go to another location outside the village. We cross fields that seem to come from the Windows 98 desktop, among the remains of calcareous rocks and gradually increasing trachytic rocks. We leave the cars and we enter a path that runs along a dense gorge until we reach the beautiful Triulintas waterfalls, surrounded by greenery. We enjoy this view for a bit before returning to an open space nearby … to work!






Workaway is an international hospitality service that allows members to get in touch with each other to organise family stays and cultural exchanges. All the foreign people I met today ended up at Giovanni’s house through Workaway. In exchange for food and lodging they do various types of work: in the morning in the fields, in this period to keep the olive groves in order and clean from the brushwood. The evening is kept free or sometimes there are various types of activities. Today, for example, we’ve come here to the waterfalls because in a few days there will be a workshop for children on the construction of the typical Sardinian “pinnetto”, a type of stone hut. On the side of the valley we start to accumulate large stones which, through a real chain of passage, we accumulate in an open flat space. Here, with this material, the structure will gradually be built with the help of local experts. Workaway seems like a good initiative to me, considering that between a stone and the other we take a sip of beer and some laughs, and all this doesn’t seem proper work!