Luckily, the distances between villages in this area are not big and I leave before it gets too hot. The forecasts are not comforting, from 35 to 40 degrees for days and days. I cycle through the golden countryside of Logudoro, with the imposing Monte Santu on the right, and pass the great artificial barrier which is the 131 highway, pointing at the first village of the Meilogu area, Bonnanaro, which lies between the Mount Pelao and Mount Arana.
I arrive at the Town Hall, where I find the Mayor Antonio who welcomes me to his room. From the windows you can see the surrounding area, Monte Santu, Monte Pelao behind the village, the valleys of Logudoro. Antonio explains (but I already know thanks to my geological knowledge) that these hills, basalt plateaus, were once valley bottoms where the lava coming out of the volcanoes that existed here were deposited on existing sediments. Once this was a land rich in agriculture but now it is the victim of a serious water crisis, the water from the Rio Mannu river flows towards the Coghinas reservoir and no longer arrives here. Dams have had a double-edged effect, not to mention their management, and water management in general.
Bonnanaro is the village of cherries, but Antonio tells me how the trees have recently been devastated by insects, even if the festival continues to be held in early summer. By now in the territory, as in many of the area, pastoralism prevails. Then he tells me about the archaeological sites in the area, especially the necropolis of Corona Moltana, where the findings were so important that they gave the name to an entire pre-Nuragic cultural facies, the one precisely known as “Bonnanaro culture.”
Vice Mayor Mario joins us and before lunch he takes me to visit the beautiful Palazzo Passino, a nineteenth-century residence of the nobles of the town, in a high position from which you can admire a beautiful panorama. The view extends from Monte Santo to the so-called ‘valley of the nuraghi’, which I will probably visit tomorrow. We walk in the historic center, where the streets are cobbled, and there are several noble buildings. We arrive at the beautiful Cantaru fountain, all in white stone, topped with a dome and with taps on all sides. Not far away there is also the old wash house. We return to the Town Hall passing by the parish church of San Giorgio and a couple of beautiful murals.
For lunch I am a guest with Tiziana and Davide, with the young Giovanna and Maria. Tiziana is the cousin of the artist Gianni Polinas, originally from Bonnanaro, whom I met on my day in Olbia. She also tells me a few facts about Bonnanaro, and tells me about their famous poet Giuseppe Raga, reciting one of his poems. All his poems were collected posthumously in 1968, in two volumes entitled “Cantigos de Pelau”, I can’t wait to read some more.
The afternoon is too hot to think about being out, and I stay to rest at the Monte Arana b&b where I am a guest of the owner Fernanda. I go out again when it gets cooler, to go to the meeting that was organised at the church of Santa Croce with the Choir of Bonnanaro. We play and sing in front of a small but warm audience, and once finished we pour out, where a small refreshment was set up. This is where I meet Gianni and Massimo.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Gianni and Massimo are the creators of a “cycling event” called Girovinho’s. The two daredevils (because this is what they are!) thought of planning bicycle trips, visiting various wineries scattered in the areas touched. The idea is to tell the variability of the territories through viticulture, and to highlight the excellence of Sardinian wine production. In each cellar they are welcomed, given a tour to get to know the company and then invited to taste the wines. I know this process well! The first “edition” was in 2016, the journey from Cagliari to Bonnanaro, in 12 stages and 520 kilometers via the Sardinian east coast. Then in the following years they followed the inverse path along the west coast, and other shorter itineraries, for example the one that touches the wineries of north-west Sardinia. I wonder how they manage to get back on the bike to cycle stages which are certainly longer and more tiring than my ones. Then I think they do it for only six days, while I will arrive at 377, when I will count on the fingers of one hand the days where I have not had several alcoholic tastings!