I cycle the road along the Rio Mannu valley and then the climb that takes me to the volcanic plateau where Ittiri is located. I stop at the Town Hall, on the main road, where I meet the councilor Peppino who takes me to the house where I will be tonight, in the upper part of this town full of ups and downs!
My guide is Severino, the chief of the traffic wardens, who takes me by car to visit the area. Just outside the village there is the domus de janas necropolis of Musellos, one of the many that are in this area, which due to its volcanic nature must have been ideal for rock diggers! We see it from afar and from here I can see the rows of stairways that are on the sides of the entrances of the tombs! We drive a little way and arrive at another site, Coronas Buttiosas, where the red rocks are dug with cavities similar to prehistoric caves.
We drive in this territory, rich in cork trees. Severino tells me that once it was all cultivated and full of farmhouses. We arrive at one of these, all in stone, with a perfect semicircle roof and a stone water tank inside, “su lacu”. Olive trees are also abundant in these countryside, and in fact Ittiri is part of the City of Oil circuit.
We continue on the road leading to Romana, where I will be in the next few days, and the landscape becomes decidedly more arid. We are close to Monte Toru, a volcanic plateau whose ridge characterizes this area, which resemble a bit the American “far west”. We drive through the canyon where the road winds and then we reverse the route, enjoying this incredible view, which the hot air makes it even more fascinating.
We now go to two important churches. The first stop is at the remains of the abbey of Our Lady of Paulis. It remains part of the beautiful structure, where I struggle with the high vegetation, and can admire the arches in red volcanic stone overlaid by beautiful white limestone. We are in the territory of Ittiri, on the border with Uri, where there is a church of the same name and where the statue of the Madonna is kept, which is brought here only during the religious feast.
Going up towards the plateau of Sas Seas we arrive at the church of Our Lady of Coros (the name of this area of Sardinia), all in white limestone and with the old monastery attached. Unfortunately, the external gate is closed and we cannot see it up close, but not far from here we stop at a panoramic point. The view extends to Lake Cuga, to the territory of Sassari, with the Osilo hill visible, and even Capo Caccia can be recognized in the distance.
There are also many nuraghi, the nuraghe Majore above all. On the way back to the village we stop and enter a piece of land to admire the remains of one of these. Severino’s dream is to acquire this land and make it usable, perhaps with a refreshment point. Beautiful ideas often not feasible due to lack of public funds.
Back to the village, I say goodbye to Severino and take a walk to admire the centre of this town. First the beautiful building that houses the civic hospital. I go down the beautiful tree-lined avenue and pass the Sussarellu baronial palace. The whole centre is full of volcanic red stone houses, beautiful wooden doors and noble buildings in Art Nouveau style.
I pass the parish church of San Pietro in Vincoli with a beautiful neoclassical red stone facade and a tall bell tower in white limestone, and I arrive at the far end of the village, having crossed several statues in red trachyte. Here, in fact, the biennial of trachyte takes place, a sculptural competition whose works are exhibited in the city centre.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
In my passage in the “hard core” area of the launeddas, the Sarrabus in the south-west of the island, I had heard of and seen images of a very particular bronze statue, found right in the territory of Ittiri. First in the laboratory of Pitano in Maracalagonis, then in Villaputzu with Andrea, Giancarlo and Salvatore. This bronze statue seems a real source of pride for launeddists!
In one of the archaeological sites near Ittiri, a small bronze known as “the Ittiri flutist” was found by the famous archaeologist Antonio Taramelli, representing a player with a three-cane flute, most likely a sort of launeddas. The male figure, which seems partially seated, is characterised by a large erected phallus.
The fact that he wears a skullcap hat goes almost unnoticed, as do the protruding breasts, which resemble it to a hermaphrodite. It is a pity not to be able to see this statuette live, because it is currently located at the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari. However, its vital energy spreads to the four corners of our island, certainly in the south-eastern corner!