We are only in June and the air is already warm in the morning, who knows what summer will wait for me. The landscape begins to turn yellow, and the volcanic rocks on which Ploaghe stands extend in front of me, as I cycle the few kilometers of today. Arrived near a junction, I see the church of Sant’Antonio Abate, I know that there are also the remains of the Roman church of Sant’Antimo, and not far away is the church of San Michele di Salvennor (an old medieval village now disappeared) .
I begin the climb towards Ploaghe and shortly after, while already gasping from the heat, a cyclist approaches me. He’s Dany “the restorer”, I met him on Facebook only and today he wants to accompany me on the entry into his village! We go along the main road, we pass the beautiful square, full of churches and ancient buildings, and we arrive in the Town Hall, or rather “above” the Town Hall, that is, on its flat roof, at street level, from where you can enjoy an exceptional view over the whole plain below. Here, Councilor Giovanni welcomes us, and lets me in (going down the stairs) for an institutional greeting. He who will take care of me throughout the day.
Giovanni is young and enthusiastic, and the information he gives me about his village is both historical, and above all of “productivity” nature. A little bit of what I wanted to find on this journey, not only info about the past, but also contemporaneity, how Sardinians of today are trying to keep up with modern times.
We have a coffee in the beautiful square where there is not only the beautiful parish church of San Pietro (ex cathedral) which houses the famous Candelieri (unique together with Sassari, Nulvi and Iglesias), but also the oratories of Santa Croce and Rosario, with the features of real churches that make the square very rich (for this reason many the film director from Sassari Bonifacio Angiuss shots many of the scenes of his Ovunque Proteggimi here). Also in the square is the old monumental cemetery, the Parish House and the old municipal building, the former granatic mountain, which will be restored and reopened soon. What a square!
We move and go to see the home of one of Ploaghe’s most famous historical figures, Canon Giovanni Spano. Unfortunately, the house is currently abandoned but it is hoped that the resources will soon be found to put it back together. From here we go to visit Antonio’s Salude e Trigu bakery, which produces carasau bread (and not only) with durum wheat, transformed into semolina in the stone mill, naturally leavened and cooked in wood.
As we head to see the former Capuchin convent where I will perform tonight, Giovanni tells me about other production realities in the village: the Sini pasta factory, which produces quality dumplings, Smeraldina water (which is produced in Tempio Pausania but whose owner is from Ploaghe), and the Ruda supermarkets, where we stop to greet the owner Andrea (and then there is Dany “the restorer”, with the same surname Ruda, who restores antique furniture.)
Once visited the beautiful former Capuchin convent, we stop for lunch at Giovanni’s house, where I can enjoy his dad’s food specialties, and in the afternoon we visit La Genuina, a company that produces pork, goat and sheep sausages. The owner Antonello shows us all the areas, where the meats are processed, the cold rooms, where we enter happy to take a breath of cold air, and the drying and maturing areas. Halal and Kosher meats are also produced here, in an open perspective towards global markets, conscious consumption and respect for ethical and religious principles. And after the interesting tour, we taste the delicious products over a good glass of wine.
Once back in the center, on the main square, I take this opportunity to visit the small monumental cemetery, next to the church of San Pietro, and the beautiful exhibition of the fascinating Quadreria Spano, the Canon Spano’s collection, at the Oratorio del Rosario, guided by the scholar Rosa Anna who illustrates a little of these magnificent works purchased by the canon or which were donated to him on his excursions to the churches of Sardinia, and which he then donated to the Town Hall to be preserved or sold for the construction of public works.
The time of the event arrives. The beautiful cloister of the convent is filled with people and the evening light makes the atmosphere special. I have the honor of being in the company of the Choir of Ploaghe conducted by Piero Concu, who, after listening to a bit of my story and my music, performs in songs from their repertoire, which I then join. And we also have the honor of listening to witty Logudorese poems recited by Piero Masala, a ploaghese poet in the audience, in response to my great-grandfather Pasquale Dessanay’s poem ‘In S’Abba’. After the beautiful evening, happy we refresh ourselves at the banquet set up under the portico by the Pro Loco, with local products, and then an ice cream in the square with friends who came to hear me from Sassari. I can finally go to sleep in the house that was kindly offered by Giovanna.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
A lot can be read about the Canon Spano, originally from Ploaghe but who then lived in Rome and Cagliari, where he died and where he is buried, at the monumental cemetery of Bonaria, in a tomb designed by himself and built when he was still alive. And above all you can read his writings, which range from archeology, ethnography and Sardinian linguistics. But I prefer to mention a ‘fresher’, contemporary, living figure with Ploagese origins. This is Leonardo Sini, a young conductor born in Sassari but from Ploaghe’s parents. Father Salvatore is the President of the Ploaghe brass band, while he, Leonardo, first studied trumpet in Sassari and then orchestral conducting, in London and Holland, and recently, at just 29 years old, he was engaged in Cremona, Pavia and Bergamo with Bellini’s “La sonnambula”. Recently interviewed on the Unione Sarda newspaper, Leonardo tells what it means to be conductors, but above all what it means to be attached to one’s origins and find happiness: “it is important to have firm roots, but to go ‘out’ and deal with other people and other cultures is indispensable. Finally, you can come back with a suitcase on you: this is true happiness “.