301/377: Senis


House of the Baron

Today, despite being a short distance, I savor the climbs of the Marmilla hills. The temperature has dropped, at least in the evening, but it is still too hot to be October and the sun beats hard making me sweat.

I arrive at the Town Hall where Mayor Serena receives me, introduces me to all the staff, Ramona the vice Mayor, Lidia at the social services, Romina the librarian, Sara the engineer, Roberta at the finance office, Daniela at the registry office … all women! They are waiting for me with cakes and drinks ready to listen with curiosity to my project. Then Carlotta, Vanessa and Francesca arrive, three young girls from the civil service … I feel blessed among women!

Soldaus exhibition

Then, Caterina arrives, a guide of the cultural association San Giovanni Battista, who takes me, accompanied by the mayor and civil service girls, to visit the Baronial House, a beautiful building with medieval systems that belonged to the Spanish baron from the fifteenth century. Outside stands a beautiful tower, under renovation and to the side what were once the stables. Inside the building is the exhibition Soldaus, Soldiers of Sardinia. Here Caterina guides me through reconstructions of weapons and costumes of soldiers from all historical periods, from the Neolithic, through Nuragic, Phoenician-Punic and Roman. There are also archaeological remains from the surrounding area.

For lunch I am invited to Giorgio’s home, whose mother Antonietta is a Dessanai from Nureci. Also Paolo Dessanai from Laconi, with his wife Maria came for the occasion. Although I have not yet come to reunite my Dessanay branch with those of Laconi and Nureci, even here as in Laconi they treat me like a relative. Pietro, Giorgio’s father, proudly shows me the barbecue where we have roasted the meat, made from a single huge piece of trachyte, and shows me another one that he would like to sell.

Detail of the Spanish Fountain

After lunch I take the bike to go and look for the Spanish Fountain, in the countryside just outside the village. While I am looking for the road a car stops with a gentleman and a boy who greets me “Hello Bastià”. He is also Bastià, one of the students of the Ruinas schools where I recently presented the project, with his dad. I ask them for directions to the fountain and I find it a little later, on the left bank of the Flumini Imbessu, in the area near Bau Nou. Despite the thick vegetation that surrounds it, I can see its trachyte structure. It was built around 1600 by some skilled stonemasons of Laconi. I take the photo with my feet almost in the river waters and I get back on my bicycle.

Nuraghe Senis Mannu

I then meet Andrea, who takes me by bicycle to the hills behind the village to see the Senis Mannu nuraghe. We have to climb a little, short climbs that breaks one’s breath, but it’s worth it. The nuraghe has partially collapsed but one of its rooms shows the perfectly squared stones and the skillful construction technique of the Nuragics. All around are stone remains, what was supposed to be an ancient village. Here was the medieval town, then abandoned, but it seems to remain an area with old burials.

San Giovanni Battista church

Once back in the village, I have time to see the beautiful 13th century church of San Giovanni Battista with its multicolored trachyte facade. Then through the narrow streets of the historic center I go and get changed to go to the library where the municipal administration and a varied audience are waiting for me, including many children, to hear my story. We conclude the evening with a pizza in the Council Hall, all decked out with drawings produced by children!






Before lunch, together with the girls of the civil service, we go to see Signora Teresina, 80 years old. As soon as we arrive, Teresina is complaining about the new dye of her hair, blue fairy-like violet reflections, which is well suited to the purple shirt she wears. She’s desperate, looking for ways to cover the strange color her hairdresser decided to put on her head! She makes us sit in the loggia in front of the house that was once his parents. Teresina writes poetry. When we ask her to read us some at first she hesitates. Then she goes to get a diary, and starts reading one, two, five, and others. All in Italian. With an accent from northern Italy. I ask her why. She tells me that she lived for 24 years in Val d’Aosta, near Courmayeur. She was a cook in a mountain refuge’s restaurant on the slopes of Mont Blanc, where she worked for 4 months a year. She used to go to work on foot with 4 hours of hard walk and also some climbing bits to get there. Food supplies were brought with the helicopter. At night the creaking of the glacier was heard. To make coffee she had to activate an assembly-line mechanism. Rescue men often went to recover dead bodies of missing mountaineers. For months they were stuck there and when they could return to the normal world they were in terrible conditions, like refugees, and they no longer knew how to walk in the street, risking being hit by cars.

Then she returned to Sardinia, to San Teodoro where she lived for 20 years, and once her companion died, Teresina returned to Senis, a village that saw her grow rebellious, never conformed to the rules. As a child she was given a bicycle as a present. The other girls of the town who saw her cycling, always dressed in an eccentric way, gossiped a lot about her. Once she went to church sleeveless. The priest gave her a scowl during the sermon. She was the first girl in Senis to wear pants in public. Her father forced her to take off the gloves given to her by the Marshal’s wife before going to church saying “who do you think you are, the President of the Republic?” She took them off leaving the house, but put them back on entering the church.

Her most significant poem is “The swallow”: “A tribal gesture broke your flight / knocking your nest down so you could get annoyed …”. She wrote it in a moment of anger when she saw a man knocking down swallows’ nests with the little ones inside and the mother swallow flying crazy around. Today to the civil service girls she says “thank goodness that today there are girls like you, you seem bright and rebellious like me!”