Again a few kilometers on the basaltic plain of Abbasanta between Borore and Aidomaggiore. I pedal quickly to arrive on time for the mass which takes place at the church of Santa Barbara, just outside the village, where I am invited to participate by Claudio Chirigu (Quirico in Sardinian), director of the female choir Santa Maria delle Palme, and the one who will host me for this day.
Left my bike and luggage at Claudio’s house, we drive to the church where the whole village is gathering. In the square in front of the beautiful red trachyte façade on a basaltic base, the priest blesses the knights who make three laps around the church in honor of Santa Barbara. Then the mass begins. I position myself in the side door next to the altar so that I can properly see and hear the choir directed by Claudio. Not only. I take this opportunity to record them to get some inspiration material for my composition of the day.
At the end of the mass, the knights launch into a couple of quick runs down a slope to the side of the church, while the children watch in fascination, and some are carried around on ponies. After this ritual we enjoy the beautiful singing of the Su Cuntzertu de Aidumajore choir accompanied by a glass of wine and Sardinian sweets. I take this opportunity to record them too, knowing already that they will provide inspiration for the musical fragment.
We walk for a short distance to reach the fountains of Santa Barbara, immersed in the coolness of a grove. Claudio explains to me that their origin is nuragic, even if they were used (and architecturally modified) during the following Roman and medieval eras. In this territory there was the old village of Ruinas (homonym of other Ruinas in Sardinia, the Municipality of Ruinas and the disappeared village at the foot of Gennargentu in territory of Arzana)which no trace remains except the church and these fountains.
After a hearty lunch at Claudio’s house with his family, we take a break to wait for the heat to pass, and then we get back in the car to visit the Nuraghe Sa Jua, just behind the village. The structure is well preserved, with a mighty lintel, the central room and the staircase leading up, from where you can enjoy an exceptional view of the town below and the valley that goes towards Lake Omodeo.
We head towards the novenary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, of the seventeenth century, where every year the saint is celebrated with traditional music and dances. In the distance you can see Lake Omodeo with all the mountains of Mandrolisai and Barbagie behind it. Behind us, however, among the dense Mediterranean scrub, is the peak of Monte Nieddu, where there are the remains of a megalithic wall built with huge boulders and which borders the edge of this rocky ridge.
After driving through a green valley we approach Lake Omodeo and arrive at the novenary of Santa Greca. Here too there was an old village of which no trace remains, Uras, curiously namesake of the village in the Campidano. All around the church, built with the very dark basalt of the area, the vegetation is luxuriant and there are several centuries-old olive trees to act as guardians at the novenary overlooking the lake.
Back in the village, we walk through the narrow streets of the historic centre. We visit the “Funtana corte ‘e josso” where there is a nice wash house. Then we go to the church of San Gavino, inside which I am struck by the beautiful wooden statue of the Ecce Homo, a suffering Christ with real hair on his head! Outside the church there is a nuragic betyl, and it is here that Claudio tells me about strange facts concerning this church, where beating noises, voices are periodically heard, and where the lights switch on by themselves for no reason.
We continue to the Binzale district, pass the fountain, and arrive at the Piazza dei Balli. From here we move to the Corte ‘e susu district, the oldest. In the houses there are still the signs of the Aragonese domination, the edges in red trachyte decorated with doors and windows set in the dark basalt. Then signs on the walls of the arrival of the Americans and DDT. We walk along some unpaved streets to arrive at an old well set in the vegetation.
A panel reminds me that Aidomaggiore is also part of the Hymnos circuit which brings together the villages where the tradition of liturgical chant is kept alive, as I was able to ascertain this morning. There are many houses for sale, I am struck by the prices, low for large properties, entire historic buildings at derisory figures. Depopulation is a sad phenomenon, which I have already found in other small villages but which somehow always attracts me, dreaming of being able to afford to buy and transform a house into an artistic residence in a very small village.
The evening ends in the main square with a concert by singer-songwriter Stefano “Cisco” Bellotti, former singer of the Modena City Ramblers. Among the large audience I can see some familiar faces, Cinzia from Oniferi, Daniel from Bidonì, neighboring villages that I have now visited several months ago. My journey enters the last phase and memories of the very beginning seems to be increasingly distant in time.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Wandering through the streets of the centre of Aidomaggiore, Claudio shows me a house, and mentions a sad story concerning the murder of a child, which took place almost a hundred years ago. As has already happened to me (the very recent “crime of the lake” that shocked the community of Ghilarza and all this territory comes to mind), it is very difficult to talk about these facts and we must always do it with delicacy. Once again I decide to respect a community without telling. After all, as Claudio tells me, the story has been picked up several times by newspapers and writers that it has now become inflated. I found it by rummaging through the book “Discovering the Lost Secrets of Sardinia” by Antonio Maccioni, in the chapter entitled “The Secret Passion of the Priest of Aidomaggiore”.
Much more important, however, is to mention the Carnival, as it happens here in a peculiar way. In Aidomaggiore, people mask themselves in a unique way, “a lenzolu”. While on Sundays the masks are traditional, on Mondays a white sheet is worn with a sober mask covering the face, while on Mardi Gras, as a sign of mourning for the end of Carnival, a black sheet is worn. The typical dance, Sa Conitrotza, is also unique in the local scene. As usual, finding myself on a path with obligatory dates, I will have to try to return here in winter to admire it.