Today I cycle a little way to get to this beautiful village at the foot of the Montiferru where the Mayor Antonio and his vice Antioco welcome me. I already met them by chance in Bosa and then again at the bar in Sennariolo.
We challenge the heat of this day to visit both the village and its territory, an important crossroads on the ancient Roman road that reached Macomer. The village was born around the Funtana Tacaluboe, near the church of the Madonna Maria Ausiliatrice, or Oratorio delle Anime.
Not far away, in ‘Sa Carrela de Santu Nicolau’ is the Funtana Etza, another water spring. The nature of this volcanic territory is evident in the building stone of churches, fountains and houses: mainly dark basalt, compact, the ornamental red trachyte here and there, and occasionally some pieces of ‘tuff’.
Many houses have interesting architectural elements, stone arches, colonnaded terraces, decorated lintels. We stop to visit a very old house, with a beautiful portal. The owner takes us into the beautiful courtyard in front of us and shows us the structure of what looks like a small castle.
We go upstairs to get to the ‘tower’ where you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the whole village. Behind the house we see what were once the stables, and next to it the back of the church of San Nicola. The house is undergoing renovations and some ‘secret’ rooms appear to have come out during the works. Who knows what mysteries this house has kept!
After leaving, we go to the church of San Nicola, with the Oratory of Santa Croce attached. The original church was Byzantine although it was later rebuilt in a neoclassical style. Here is the confraternity of Santa Croce, whose choir is the fundamental element of the celebrations of Holy Week. The singing style of the area is that of ‘cuncordu’ as I have already had the opportunity to discover in Santu Lussurgiu, on the other side of the Montiferru.
We take the car to visit an important archaeological site, the nuraghe Nuracale, four-lobed and only partially outcropping. As in many archaeological sites in Sardinia, there is a lot to be excavated here. It is clear from the visible bits that most of it is still below, probably the whole village around the nuraghe, whose central tower still includes two rooms on two levels.
We continue to the Sant’Antioco water springs in what is called the ‘way of the mills’, due to the presence of hydraulic mills that once dotted this territory, as we have already seen in the centre village, abundant in water. Few mills remain, but the springs are always active and release water with a large flow rate such as to create small channeled waterfalls, which flow into small lakes.
We walk in this cool oasis, where until the seventeenth century there was a medieval village, now disappeared. The only testimony of it is the Sant’Antioco sanctuary from 1636, surrounded by buildings that served as accommodation for pilgrims. Today the area is a beautiful park where an independent rock music festival, the rocKas, is held in the summer.
I return to my accommodation, called Relaxing House, a beautiful house in the hill of Saggioro, behind the village. The climb to get there is not very relaxing, but as soon as I arrive and I am presented with a view of the imposing Montiferru on one side, and the plateau that goes to the sea on the other, fatigue gives way to ecstasy.
When I get back to the centre I can take a bike ride, passing through the parish church of San Pietro Apostolo, and the narrow streets of the center, where they await me for a convivial evening. Antioco has set up tables right outside his cellar and here the members of the Sas Batoro Colonnas choir, of which Antioco is also part, join us.
The evening proceeds with local food and wine, and traditional songs that also attract a couple of French tourists on vacation in a small house just above us. The air is lukewarm, the atmosphere warm and friendly, the great vocal harmonies, with the classic modulation one tone above, true impromptu cuncordu singing. When I take the bike to return to the accommodation I am so relaxed that I forget to be without lights, and I arrive at the Relaxing House pushing the bike uphill totally blind in the dark!
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
In the remote history of Sardinia these territories have had considerable importance. Historian Ptolemy reports that this area was inhabited by the Sardinians Pelliti, one of the late Nuragic tribes who last resisted, together with the Iliensi and the Balari, the Roman invasion.
It seems that from then until today the history of these territories has always been tormented, in a continuity that includes the evangelization of the area, the passage from the Giudicato of Torres to that of Arborea, the inclusion in the Crown of Aragon, the land surrender to various Spanish feudal lords, the passage to the Piedmontese and subsequent revolts against them, including that of Angioy who was protected right here by the population, the division of land between further nobles, the riots to save the territory from deforestation, and then entry into the two world wars and into the democratic republic.
Returning back to the starting point, in the book “Le Pietre di Leàri”, the Mayor Antonio tells in a romanticised way the revolt of the montiferrina tribe of the Olèa (Sardi Pelliti). Antonio is a fervent supporter of the independence of Sardinia, and in this book he embodies the national spirit of a people who still have to become aware (and knowledgeable) of their own history.
Somehow his being politically and democratically active for the independence of Sardinia today represents the same spirit of the Pelliti, that of being recognised as an independent and free people, somehow detached from its conquerors, a people with linguistic and cultural traditions unique, which certainly can coexist peacefully with other peoples (as history shows) but which cannot and must not accept a submission to a condition of moral and material misery.