221/377: Siligo


Maria Carta square

Again today, a very short journey under the sun to reach the small Siligo, where the Mayor Mario with Antonio from the Maria Carta Foundation and Mario, a member of the Ploaghe choir who I recently met, welcome me.

Once I parked the bike and stored my bags in the accommodation, kindly provided by Antonio, we go to the municipal swimming pool for a cool drink in the kiosk, surrounded by children splashing around in the water. We are preparing to visit Siligo under the sun.

First stop is the Oratory of Santa Croce, whose ancient two-tone facade, white limestone and red trachyte of Banari, is set among modern houses. Inside there is a beautiful oak crucifix used for S’Iscravamentu. We continue to the late 16th century parish church of Santa Vittoria, from where during the patronal feast the procession leaves through the streets of the town.

View from Su Runaghe

We pass a place called Sa mandra ‘e corte, where once the lost cattle were collected, and for which the owner then had to pay to be able to collect it. And we come up to the Su Runaghe viewpoint, from which you can enjoy an incredible view of the whole Meilogu and Logudoro.

There is also a construction in the direction of Ardara: it is the astronomical observatory, equipped with the largest telescope in Sardinia. It is managed by the Turritana Astronomical Society of Sassari which has also built a planetarium that is located inside the village (and it is the second I hear of, after the one in Ollolai).

Maria Carta in a graphic work by Gianni Polinas (detail)

After a hearty lunch at Antonio’s parents’ house, where his father tells me several anecdotes of the life of his famous sister Maria Carta, the moment I so longed to visit the museum dedicated to this extraordinary Sardinian artist has come, in a building all built in very pure Sardinian granite.

I am guided by Antonio, the singer’s nephew, who tells me about the episodes of his aunt’s extraordinary life, while we wander through the beautiful rooms of the museum, set up with original stage costumes, photographs, writings, works of art dedicated to her (in particular those of the artist Gianni Polinas who I met in Olbia and who has now become another friendly presence on this trip) and videos of unforgettable performances.

There would be too much to say about this artist, so I recommend you immerse yourself in her music and come and visit this place. But another thing that strikes me about the Maria Carta Foundation‘s activities is the realisation of the project ‘Freemmos, stand against depopulation’, which, as Antonio tells me, aims to revitalise the small villages of Sardinia at risk of extinction with a series of cultural and artistic initiatives.

The old washhouse

We meet Mario again to drive towards the valley where the 131 highway passes, where the water flows in abundance. Right next to the road there is an old washhouse for the collection of surrounding waters, where, among other things, Maria Carta also often went.

Santa Maria di Bubalis church

Not far from here is the Mesumundu locality, literally the center of the world, but in reality perhaps the center of the Meilogu. Here is the church of Santa Maria de Bubalis (or of Our Lady of Mesumundu), beautiful with its polychrome brick rows. All around there are remains of Roman baths and an aqueduct.

From here we can admire Monte Santu well with its typical flat top visible from all the surrounding area for kilometers, where the church of Sant’Elia and Sant’Enoch is located, and next to which there was a convent of the Benedictine monks, now disappeared.

S’Aspru community, at Monte Santu’s feet

The last stop of this evening is in S’Aspru, the community created by Father Salvatore Morittu and managed by the Mondo X association, which operates in the field of social care, welcoming drug addicts and AIDS patients to its facilities. Giuseppe, the second manager, welcomes us and takes us around the facility.

First of all the outside, where the well-kept gardens are located and then a whole series of areas for various activities. In fact, Giuseppe explains that there are three fundamental aspects of the recovery of these people: manual work (which takes place here in the vegetable garden, in the dairy, in working with animals, in the kitchen, laundry, carpentry), culture (through the use of a well-stocked library, and the organization of conferences, while television is allowed every 15 days), and the self-search (through constant meetings with operators and relationships with others).

We then take a tour inside the beautiful structure, in its kitchens, in the rooms, in the chapel, and a series of photographs show what this place was like in the early 80s before the arrival of Father Morittu, and how has been slowly transformed by him and by all the people who have passed through and worked on it.

Santa Maria di Bubalis church detail

We return to the village and we are just in time for the meeting with the folk group Santa Maria de Bubalis, who delights me with a series of Sardinian dances, and then we head towards a bar in the historic center, outside which a speaker has been set up, to which I connect the ukulele and play some tunes telling about my trip to a varied and cheerful audience!






On the main street of Siligo, after passing the square dedicated to Maria Carta with a beautiful mural, I am shown the door of a house, all surrounded by columns in red Banari stone and with a goat head on the upper edge. It is the home of Gavino Ledda, a native of Siligo and author of the book Padre Padrone (“Master Father”). Just as I could not fully describe the figure of Maria Carta, I will not do it for this other famous character.

One sure thing is that his human story, recounted in his controversial book, that of a child who was forced to leave school to become a shepherd, and who from the age of twenty onwards takes a life back, studying up to teaching at the universities of Cagliari and Sassari, must have hit the Taviani brothers who decided to make a film inspired by Gavino’s story.

Today, Gavino lives in this house, where we do not have the courage to knock so as not to risk disturbing him, while the house of his father, now deceased, is, according to the author “the home of the “Master Father”, is a bit like the Colosseum of Siligo and of Sardinia and should be saved, restructured and transformed into a school, where not only me, but also other writers, musicians, directors, scientists can give lessons, conferences, readings “.