The departure from Giave is phenomenal, I can’t get used to the spectacular view over the whole of Logudoro. I descend very fast downhill through volcanic rocks and I see Bonorva slowly approaching. I make the last effort uphill for a few kilometers and enter this town with many elegant buildings.
I arrive in the square, where the councilor for culture Laura and the boys of the Youth Council, Vanna, Chiara and Giuliano are waiting for me, who will take care of me for this day. After a coffee at the Tisel bar (the old owner Tito Selis was the grandfather of a friend from Cagliari!)I leave my luggage at the Sa Grutta de Funtana b&b, and with the the guys we get in the car to start the tour of the territory.
We go down to the very yellow plain of Santa Lucia, where we pass the small church of the same name where important celebrations takes place once a year, and we head towards the archaeological site of Sant’Andrea Priu, located on a ridge of volcanic rocks. After the site was the destination of one of Alberto Angela’s documentaries (visible in Italian HERE at 1:46:50), my expectations are high, and will not be disappointed. We park and are welcomed by Maria Giovanna, the guide of the Costaval cooperative that manages the site. We skirt the rocks to climb to the top, passing several cavities that we will visit on the way back. On the top there is a rock carved in the shape of a bull, almost to guard the site, and to symbolize the male element, always present, often in the form of horns, in many necropolises so far visited.
We go back along the rock ridge, this time entering the cavities, the domus de janas, with their considerable size and impressive architectural elements. But it is only in the last and most important cavity, what is called the ‘tomb of the chief’ for its large dimensions, that I remain open-mouthed, not only for the architectural elements of the various connected rooms, columns, gabled roofs with a double slope, all carved in the rock stone on stone, and the remains of ocher plasters, but above all for the overlapping of elements from other eras: profane Roman plasters, very decorated, and above Byzantine sacred plasters, with figures of saints and episodes of life of Jesus, since this cavity was also used as a church.
Not far from the site there are the remains of an old Roman spa, which suggests here the presence of a city, yet to be found. In the reception center of the site we visit the beautiful exhibition Salus per Aquam, on the Roman baths, set up among others by Nadia Canu of Muros and the Mayor of Ittireddu Franco Campus who had recommended me to visit it. From here we move towards the interior of this valley, which becomes increasingly wooded, and we arrive at the Mariani park, a beautiful area of the Forestry Authority where cultural events are also organised, and then at the Sa Sabilas farm, where owner Antonello treats us magnificently! We eat, among other local specialties, Su Zichi, the typical Bonorva bread, boiled in water, seasoned and served as pasta.
In the afternoon I visit the Multimedia Museum of Bonorvese Culture “Poetas”, entirely dedicated to poetry in the Sardinian language (Logudorese variant) and concentrated on the work of two important local poets, Paolo Mossa, whose events and poems I read and listen without rush in the beautiful multimedia setting, and Peppe Sozu (Giuseppe Sotgiu). The girls who run the museum also let me visit some rooms still under construction, but it is clear that it will be an important pole, with a contemporary taste.
After a bit of rest and work at the b&b, with the beautiful warm colors of the evening, we head to the village of Rebeccu, perched on a hill whose limestone top makes it look like a small Ogliastra ‘heel’, and where it is narrated there was a castle, now disappeared. The village remained, but was abandoned in the mid-eighties of the twentieth century. The houses are still in good condition, also thanks to the intervention of the Municipality which acquired several of them to build a widespread hotel.
And today we find a group of foreigners who are staying here as part of a yoga and meditation course, welcomed by the Mayor Massimo whom I finally meet too. We walk through the narrow streets and low stone houses, arriving at a nice fountain. From here we walk along a path that leads us first to the remains of a sacred well of the Nuragic age, then to the remains of a Roman thermal bath. Returning to Bonorva we stop at the church of San Lorenzo, but the cows blocks the only path among the vegetation and we are unable to get there, we are content to admire it from the distance, while two shepherds, a gentleman and a boy, pass by near us above donkeys.
We return to the town to take a tour of the historic center. The main churches (now an inevitable element of this trip), the parish church of Santa Maria Bambina, then San Giovanni, with a beautiful white limestone facade, on which there is the legend of two buried chests, one with gold, one with flies carrying malaria, and that no one has ever found. Then Santa Vittoria in what was the first nucleus of the town, where the houses are older and lower than the elegant buildings around the main square. We then go up a panoramic road over the ancient fountain. The sun is going down and the view over the town, on which the beautiful bell tower of the parish church towers, on the plain below, and on the hills around, with Monte Santu in the distance, is magnificent.
This rich day ends at Pizzeria Valle dei Nuraghi, on the 131 highway. It is not the first time that I eat close to the main Sardinian artery: in my day in Tramatza we had dinner at the restaurant of the legendary Oasis 101 station, and then on my day in Loiri Porto San Paolo at the pizzeria of Castagna, in the Nuorese Central Branch of the 131. Today the pizza ‘bonorvese’ is delicious, and I drink liters of sparkling water, rigorously Santa Lucia, the brand that comes directly from the springs of Bonorva, a must!
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
According to the legend Rebeccu took its name from the feudal lord of the village Re Beccu (King Beccu). It is said that he had a daughter, Donoria, of an evil disposition, who spent a lot of time in the woods, in the sacred well, and who met the janas, being a witch herself. All the villagers feared her, and they managed to force King Beccu to drive her out of the village.
Donoria left, cursing the village three times with the words “Rebeccu, Rebecchei, da’e trinta domos non movei” (Rebeccu, Rebeccu people, you won’t ever have more than the thirty houses). And so it was that the misfortunes began for Rebeccu, who was struck by malaria, where women did not give birth, men died of disease and houses collapsed. The last inhabitants left the village to retire to Santa Vittoria, from where the present Bonorva developed.
Later the village was repopulated, although, still mindful of the curse, the new inhabitants stopped with the construction of thirty houses in order not to challenge the prophecy of the perfidious Donoria. Despite this, the village had a slow decline over the centuries. In the 1950s, only six souls populated the village. In the eighties it was completely abandoned even though in 2011 there was a single resident who lived there all year around with his cats.