A few kilometers on a sunny volcanic plateau and I enter again the slopes of Montiferru.
It was late November 2018 and I had only been traveling for a month when I arrived in Santu Lussurgiu in the Montiferru region. From there, however, I headed south, towards Bonarcado, Seneghe and Narbolia. After eight months I’ve arrived on the other side of this volcanic complex.
I am welcomed by the Deputy Mayor Concetta, who will not be able to stay with me, but has prepared a municipal room for my lunch, kindly prepared by herself, and she advises me what to see in the village. Sennariolo is among the smallest villages in Sardinia, part of the Authentic Villages of Italy circuit and in its territory an excellent olive oil and a precious honey are produced.
I decide to first visit the Santa Vittoria church, outside the village. After a ride under an increasingly hot sun and in the midst of yellowed fields, I travel the last stretch of steep climb to reach the top of the hill where the church was built, to celebrate the defeat of the Saracen invaders. The white color of the church is almost dazzling.
I climb on a dry stone wall. From here the panorama is remarkable: on one side the whole Montiferru complex, with Cuglieri at its feet, facing the coast and the sea. I can see the Rio Mannu valley and its mouth in the territory of Tresnuraghes, the Foghe that I was unable to visit yesterday. And further down the mountain peaks between Bosa and Montresta. Beautiful.
I return to the village and, after having lunch, I rest at the Alma b&b, kindly booked by the Mayor Gianbattista, who for institutional commitments could not be here today. In the afternoon, I was joined for a coffee by my friend Barore, met in Putifigari. He’s on a day trip in the area with the whole family. It’s nice that so many people follow my journey, both virtually and sometimes physically!
We sit at the bar at the entrance to the village, where two other people I seem to know pass by. The (Sardinian) world is small. I was in a bar in Bosa when the two looked at me and asked me “are you Dessanay?” I answered yes and they said “we are Mayor and deputy of Scano di Montiferru, praghere!” And here they are again, I’ll see them again in two days!
The fountain in front of the bar, with pipes that come out of a basaltic boulder and spit water on pitchers, shows me where to continue the tour of the village. In its direction I can in fact glimpse a beautiful dome covered with colored majolica.
I arrive at the parish church of Sant’Andrea Apostolo and I realise that the dome is right above the bell tower. The architrave of the entrance of the church is made of red trachyte, the “noble” stone, just like the one that forms the nearby war memorial.
I go into the narrow streets of the historic centre, where the houses are all low, in basalt, sandstone, and sometimes a mix of various rocks. I see several decorated lintels, set in the facades, taken from who knows what ancient dwellings, or the last residues of Sardinian/Spanish houses.
I see several murals, some very beautiful, and basalt statues. I get to the southern edge of the village. This overlooks a deep rocky valley, beyond which I can see Cuglieri with its basilica that towers white on the hill, where I will be tomorrow. I think that somewhere down there are the ruins of the rural church of Santu Chirigheddu (San Quirico) right on the border between the two municipalities. I add it to the long list of “big absentees” of this trip.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
In one of the streets of the historic centre I run into a special building. It is one of the headquarters of the Hymnos Foundation, whose main office I visited in my day in Santu Lussurgiu.
The Hymnos Foundation deals with the study and enhancement of ancient liturgical musical sources, and the multi-voice songs of the oral tradition of today’s religious and social life of the communities of Sardinia.
Here in Sennariolo, since the mid-eighteenth century, there is the confraternity of the Rosary, with the group of singers, who, except for a long interruption after the Second World War, are concerned with keeping the ecclesiastical choral repertoire alive, especially that of the Holy Week.
The repertoire is recovered and passed on to new generations thanks also to the historical memory of the elderly. Among the choir members who contributed to this recovery of the specific repertoire of Sennariolo there was also the current Mayor Gianbattista.
Post Scriptum (April 2020).
On my day in Aggius, I remember the enthusiasm of the Councillor Andrea, unfortunately no longer with us today. He told me about the Gallura vocal traditions, well expressed in his village, and the link between Aggius and Sennariolo, two realities united by the figure of Priest Michele Andrea Tortu. He was born in Aggius in 1834 and died in Sennariolo in 1888, and he wrote many poems, some of which today represent the musical repertoire of the traditional choirs of the two villages.