The warmth of the welcome in Laconi repays the slow climb through woods and limestone towards this town in Sarcidano, another important stage of a personal journey that takes me to the place where my surname has the most ancient origins found.
Deputy Mayor Pamela and Councilor Carlo are waiting for me in the company of Veronica, and three geologist colleagues, Gianluca, Monica and Alessandra, my former colleague who came directly from Cagliari for the occasion!
I leave my bike and luggage at the b&b Il cachi e la Palma where I will be staying, and we start the tour around the town, not before having a coffee at Maria Grazia and Daniele’s bar, one of the many Dessanai that were waiting to meet today!
Paoleddu also joins us, another Dessanai whom I met years ago when I began my genealogical research. Even if no family ties have been verified and my family tree stops with a great-great-grandfather born in Laconi, I begin to feel at home too, as in Nuoro.
After visiting the birthplace of Sant’Ignazio, the Capuchin friar venerated throughout the island and whose history deserves a whole separate article, we stroll through the narrow streets of the historic center, arriving at the beautiful parish church of Santi Ambrogio e Ignazio , built in the sixteenth century in Aragonese Gothic style, whose facade was rebuilt in the eighteenth century.
Continuing through a fascinating portico behind the church, you arrive at the entrance to the Aymerich Park, the green lung of Laconi, close to the Corongiu district, the oldest. Not far from here is the Trenino Verde station, on the line from Mandas to Sorgono.
We stroll through this immense urban park, among gigantic eucalyptus trees, oaks, holm oaks, olive trees, we arrive at the ruins of the Aymerich Castle, with a medieval layout and which became the residence of the homonymous marquises. From the Aragonese-style windows you can admire the view of the greenery all around.
We continue the walk reaching the Maggiore Waterfall, still very weak in this period, near which there is a huge plane tree, and then the Orma Waterfall, where it is said that Fra Ignazio perceived his vocation and we conclude at the Su Acili reservoir.
Before a colossal meal in Orrodolos, Gianluca’s countryside land surrounded by greenery, we go to Punta Carradore, in the limestone ridge above the town. They tell me that here, in 2013, there was a terrible fire, which threatened the town. It is said that the fire, which reached the statue in honor of Saint Ignatius, stopped its advance here due to the change of wind.
In the afternoon we go up to the Funtanamela forest and walk in this very green area, close to the Sarcidano plateau, which I partly traveled to get to Nurallao from Villanova Tulo. Unfortunately, even here the waterfalls are dry, but I can admire the limestone walls shaped by the flowing water. Not far from here is the hamlet of Santa Sofia, which takes its name from a country church that has now disappeared, and at the top of the plateau there is now a lookout for the forest, above the remains of the Gurduxiones nuraghe.
Back in the centre town, I get ready for the meeting-concert organised at Palazzo Aymerich, the last home of the Marquis of Laconi. The neoclassical building houses the Museum of Prehistoric Statuary in Sardinia, which houses a large amount of menhirs and monoliths carved with various symbols, faces, daggers. I am guided in the halls of the museum where I admire the variety of monoliths, some of enormous size, some representing male figures, other female figures.
At the end of the visit a large audience is waiting for me in a beautiful noble hall, where I intersperse travel stories with my musical fragments. The notes meander among the spirits of my Dessanai ancestors, and travel back in time to the spirits of the builders of the mighty menhirs.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Walking through the historic centre we come across two gentlemen, one with a clean face and elegant air, the other with a long beard and a little rebellious air. “Can you tell me your name and your age?” I ask the first. “If I tell you my age you’ll be shocked, so I’ll tell you my name …. Agostino Ennis” and I “I am Bustianu Dessanay”. And he, with amazement “are you from Laconi?” and I, lying a little, “no i am from Nuoro”. At that point I ask for his age and he tells me: “I’m a hundred years old”. And someone reminds him that he is about to turn 101.
Then I turn to the other gentleman, asking for his name and age. “Mauro Fulghesu, I’m ninety years old”. And I exclaim “I hope to get in such good shape at your age”, and he replies “do you know what you need to do? Keep breathing!”
Here in Laconi there is another Fulghesu, a little younger than Mr. Mauro, who deals with genealogy. One day many years ago I decided to come to Laconi to try to discover the origins of my surname. The municipality was closed. I went to the museum where I found a person at the entrance to whom I explained that I had come to find clues about the origin of the surname Dessanay, which here in Laconi is found with the final “i”. Luckily this person showed me the Antico Borgo b&b where, he told me, lives a man who has done genealogical research on the whole town.
So I went into the streets that lead to the parish church and found the b&b. I rang. An elegant lady opened the door. A little embarrassed, I explained the reason for my visit and asked for Mr. Peppe. They let me in, offered me a coffee, and in a short time I found myself in a study full of folders and binders. All Laconi’s genealogies!
It didn’t seem real to me. I, who was just starting my research, found such a great resource! After several attempts, we only managed to trace the mother of my great-great-grandfather, Ignazia Sanna. The name Ignazio also recurs in my family tree, like Sebastiano, and I have no difficulty in tracing it back to the veneration for the Capuchin friar. Someone in the family says that a great-aunt called Ignazia even claimed to have a splinter of St. Ignatius’ stick!
The most interesting fact about the origins of my surname is that for centuries it appeared with both the “i” and the final “y”, but at a certain point in Laconi the “y” disappears, while in my branch (of Nuorese origin) it remains only in some descendants and not in others (sometimes also due to errors in the registry office). The oldest Dessanai is actually a “De Sanay”, such Andres from the end of the sixteenth century. Who knows if the “y” is a variant of the “j” of the Spaniards and that Sanai was a place, from which these people came. Mysteries still to be solved or perhaps unsolvable.
PS. A year after my day in Laconi they tell me that unfortunately Mr. Mauro Fulghesu, known as “Maittu”, has left us. His spirit hovers along with those of my ancestors, De Sanaj, and those of menhir builders.