Maybe because it’s a cloudy day, or maybe the surreal silence and the lack of anthropic elements in this wild territory, but advancing towards the “fortress” surrounded by the Temo lake gives me a mixed sense of magic/spookiness. I pass Monte Minerva on my right, after visiting the necropolis of Puttu Codinu, still in the territory of Villanova Monteleone, and across the bridge over the river/lake Temo.
In front of me the limestone hill where Monteleone Rocca Doria is located. I stop at the base to recharge my energy before facing the few kilometers of uphill hairpin bends, which I tackle slowly without effort. I am at the top, 400 meters above sea level, breathtaking view of the whole territory, the lake below me.
I enter the medieval village, which, after Baradili, is the second smallest municipality in Sardinia, 99 inhabitants. One of them is outside his house, I stop to chat for a bit. He tells me that in reality there are far fewer residents, about fifty. I settle at the Brancadoria b&b on the main street, and then I meet the Mayor Antonello who shows me a few things to see during the day. After lunch at his house and a siesta, I start to explore this village.
There is no one around. I walk the road that runs along one of the sides of the fortress and arrive at the remains of the castle, built by the Doria family in the 14th century, of which now the only remains are bits of walls, towers, and a few cisterns. The view towards the south is exceptional, as far as the eye can see. From here I move to the small church of Sant’Antonio, in a nice little square, and I go further towards the limestone quarries.
The place is incredible. Huge quarry fronts, carved into the sheer rocks. Here there are several paths of the “Adventure Park”, for young people. Unfortunately, everything seems closed, perhaps for safety reasons, and the vegetation has however taken its space. I enter one of the paths with difficulty and arrive to the edge of the limestone wall. From here I can admire the whole territory to the north, towards Villanova Monteleone, with the Temo lake just below, beautiful. Various editions of the “Water and Rock” Festival, a sport climbing meeting, were held here with athletes from all over the world.
I return to the inhabited center, where they are waiting for me at the Bread Museum, on the main street. The place is divided into several rooms of a historic building, and showcases beautiful specimens of ceremonial and non-ceremonial bread, with an incredible perfection of details. It is the first museum dedicated to bread that I visit and I know that later in my journey I will find others, certainly in Borore and Pompu.
Once out of the museum, I admire the historic buildings, with white limestone edges, and arrive at the square of the church of Santo Stefano, where I enter. The church has two main naves, and when I go out I go to the back to admire the two apses, an absolute rarity for a church. I am also struck by a work of ‘street art’ that I have already seen in various places in Sardinia, certainly in the Mulineddu park in Ossi. They are small pieces of colored cloth rolled up and inserted into the cracks of the stones, which I discover are works by the artist from Sennori Ica Spano.
The evening ends with a dinner at the house of Mayor Antonello, with a group of friends, eating meat roasted on the barbecue, drinking good wine and improvising a mad jam session with me on the bass ukulele and Antonello voice and guitar … and so, as well as some mayors following me by bicycle, now a mayor follows me musically too!
On the main street of Monteleone Rocca Doria there is one of the three access gates to the Grazia Deledda literary park. The other two are Nuoro and Galtellì. The door is a real place where his books are found and from which visits start to see the places described in his stories.
The other municipalities in the park are Galtellì, Bitti, Ittiri, Orosei, Orune, Mara, Nuoro, Romana and Villanova Monteleone. I have already mentioned this in the articles of Galtellì and Santa Maria Coghinas. In Nadia Murrighile’s degree thesis “The Grazia Deledda Literary Park: places and writing” you will find a lot of useful information on this institution and there is also the guide of P. Mura “Grazia Deledda Literary Park: guide”.
In fact, in Monteleone Rocca Doria it is not possible to find precise places described in some of Deledda’s tales, but many of these municipalities have been chosen for their strong socio-cultural relevance to the writer’s poetics. And in my day today, walking in this almost deserted village, in contact only with natural elements, it was a bit like being inside a story by Grazia Deledda.