252/377: Lei


View of Lei from San Marco square

Note for the English version: Lei means “she” or “her” in Italian. In this article, sometimes when you read “Lei” you can interchange it with “she” or “her”.

I leave the territory of Silanus passing the Orolio nuraghe and, after covering a stretch of the much-avoided 129 state road, I begin the climb that leads me to Lei.

A “female” village welcomes me in Piazza Sa Rocca (which the young people of the village renamed Piazza Fresu after the jazz trumpeter had filled it with hundreds people in the concert of its fiftieth birthday with Stefano Bollani): the mayor Marcella and the councilors Maria Antonietta and Giuliana.

There is also a man, Giuseppe, who provides me with accommodation in a house on top of a hill overlooking Lei and that reaching under the August sun makes me sweat. I become the guardian of Lei and the plain below for a day.

Hut at Cuguruttu

We go up to the woods, holm oaks, very green and ancient trees and we reach the statue dedicated to Sant’Isidoro. In May the statue of the saint is carried here in procession from the vllage.

Higher up we arrive to a stone ‘barracca’, a hut, in Santu Pedru, surrounded by greenery, where I pull out the ukulele and play inspired by the sounds of the woods. Not far from here, in Cuguruttu, stands a singular hut made of stone and branches, whose wooden entrance door is surmounted by the horns of an ox.

View from the Monte Palai watch post

Higher and higher we pass a beautiful equipped building where a graduation party is being celebrated and we cross into Bolotana territory up to the lookout of Monte Palai, the highest point of the Marghine chain, at 1200 meters. The view from here is great, the villages in the plain, the factories of Ottana, the Gennargentu.

They tell me how the statue of San Marco was disputed between the two municipalities of Lei and Bortigali. It was a little guy from Lei who lifted the heavy statue of San Marco, not the giant of Bortigali, who could not move it even an inch. And then the saint is celebrated twice, in April in the country church of San Marco, between Lei and Silanus, and in September inside the village.

Old house in the historic centre

After a hearty lunch at Marcella’s house, I retire to the little house on top of the belvedere. After the afternoon heat goes down, I descend down to the village on foot, greeting some donkeys inside a fence. Lei is an “Authentic Village of Italy”. In its historical centre there is the beautiful Romanesque church of San Michele, from the thirteenth century, and many ancient houses.

Pintore house interior

I visit two of these: the Pintore house, where the rooms of the past have been perfectly preserved, and then another house, owned by Cristina who inherited it from her grandmother and who kindly shows it inside: rooms of the past, small, narrow stairs, wooden plank floors and light blue windows.

Main street ready for the concert

At sunset we go to the modern square dedicated to San Marco, implanted on a rocky outcrop base, and overlooking the Ottana plain. The village is preparing for the evening. The main street is closed and the chairs have been put in the middle.

The local folk group, with Giuseppe, my host, Emanuele and Riccardo, invite me to play with them. Alberto joins, whom I already met in Neoneli, whose voice was once part of the famous tenores, and which I used in my sound fragment of that village. And tonight there are also the tenores of Silanus, while the dancers from Lei and Borore dance until late at night, exhausted by the heat of a typical Sardinian August evening.

Costume of Lei






Lei (She) stands tall
on stone shoes
Lei (She) is a beautiful woman
that looks at everyone from above

But I find a lack “In Lei (her)”, which allows me to talk about a nice project that I discovered on this trip.

In 2008 the project “Fototeca di Sardegna” was launched, which, with the “Atlante Sardo” series by the editorial Documenta, published a series of photographic books with the aim of telling the 377 municipalities of the island at the beginning of the twentieth century through images of local memory.

The writing of the books is entrusted exclusively to female subjects, and almost four hundred women-authors have so far collaborated, covering just over 250 municipalities. An all-female work. The titles are always the same: In “country name”. I leafed through the complete catalog. Lei (She) is not there yet. Let’s hope Lei (she) arrives soon!