230/377: Semestene


Semestene view

Today I have to cross the 131. Fortunately, the guys from Bonorva showed me an underpass that avoids me fifty meters of dangerous junction on the highway. Once entered on the road to Semestene a beautiful valley opens, and a descent begins. I fully enjoy the downhill, since the light mistral has made the temperatures drop and the sun is slightly covered. The fields are very yellow, I pass in the midst of gray marly rocks, and then white limestones, although I recognise the basalts of the summits, a common morphology in this whole area.

I enter the tiny village, a hundred inhabitants, one of those threatened with extinction in the coming decades, and Flavia, city councilor, welcomes me. It is a beautiful day and once I leave my luggage and bike in Flavia’s grandmother’s old house where I will be staying, we begin the tour of this small village.

Houses in the historic centre

We pass next to the beautiful parish church of San Giorgio, in white Miocenic stone, on one side of which is the Municipality. From here we head to the only cafe in the village, which is also a food shop, courageously managed by Deborah, and we have a coffee before continuing our tour.

The village is empty and silent but does not have a sad air, indeed, there is a sense of peace to walk among the old houses in the center. We arrive at the gardens named after Mariele Ventre, musician educator and founder of the Piccolo Coro dell’Antoniano in Bologna. From here we continue towards the old washhouse and the Funtana, and then take a wide tour on the outskirts of the village, skirting the sports facilities, the pine forest, the cemetery.

Portals of the old Santa Croce church

We enter a beautiful green area, rather yellowed in this period, the urban park, where there is also the reconstruction of a fin, and we arrive at the outdoor amphitheater. Once back, Flavia takes me to the Su Trigu pastry shop, where Bruna, a Welsh lady married here, welcomes us by offering us good cakes and she tells us what it means to have a business in such a small place.

Before going to Flavia’s house for lunch with her parents Ada and Silvio, we pass by the square with a beautiful war memorial, a statue in front of a wall enriched with beautiful ceramic murals. Around there are the oldest houses in the village, with beautiful stone details, and opposite is the square where once stood the church of Santa Croce, which was demolished. Subsequently, the two portals which were kept for a period in Sassari, were brought back here and returned to their original position, in memory of the church.

Ceramics mural by Pina Monne

Among the many murals in the country, I am struck by the ceramic one by Pina Monne depicting Giovanni Maria Angioy. The story goes that the Sardinian revolutionary stopped here during his march to the “Capo di Sopra” (the north of the island), to send various ambassadors to neighboring villages. In Macomer, they were greeted with gunfire by the rebels. Among the fiercest was Pietro Muroni, a former parish priest from Semestene who, with two pistols in his hand, shouted: “Animu, animu. No los timedas. Fogu, fogu!” (C’mon, c’mon, don’t fear them, fire, fire!)

San Nicola di Trullas church

In the evening we go to visit a jewel of a church, San Nicola of Trullas, in the middle of the valley that goes towards Pozzomaggiore. The church has a Byzantine structure, on which the current Romanesque structure was superimposed. Inside, there are the remains of beautiful 13th century frescoes. Outside, there are the remains of the monastery of the Camaldolese monks to whom the church was entrusted.

The colors of the evening make this place magical. We return to the village going along the Miocene hills topped by the basaltic plateau, where the nuraghi of Iscolca and Loschiri are located, and we pass by the fountains of Murrocu and Donnigazza before going to dinner at Antonio’s house.






Foghiles street art

Antonio welcomes us with his father (Antonio too!) in the courtyard of the family home, where tables are set up with food and drinks. Friends will soon arrive for a social evening. In the meantime, Antonio proudly shows us some areas of the house that are being renovated. In some rooms Antonio, following the memories of the aunts who once owned the house, excavated some walls to find original niches once used as pantries.

Once the friends arrive, we are all sitting in the courtyard, eating and drinking in a classic Sardinian summer atmosphere. Antonio tells me about his creation, Foghíles, which in Logudorese Sardinian means “fireplace”, the Sardinian family meeting place in small urban and rural areas, where the transmission of knowledge and direct learning of knowledge takes place.

Foghíles is therefore the meeting of knowledge for direct learning through experimentation and doing. During the days of this event, people live in contact with the rural area and their small communities, experiencing directly some manual activities, such as the harvest or the construction of traditional objects.

And therefore in Antonio’s words: “Foghíles wants to be an opportunity to activate a practical action of revaluation of places and re-appropriation of knowledge, an opportunity for international openness and a model of territorial responsibility. An opportunity to invite temporary inhabitants to actively get in touch in these places, re-evaluating potential lifestyles and learning for current and future generations.”