I receive a message in the early morning. A cyclist who invites me to reach a large group of bikers leaving from Ghilarza for a ride. I say I can’t, I’m leaving for Norbello, but as soon as I leave Enrico’s b&b I cycle 100 meters and I find them all there!
I leave galvanized by the energy of the cyclists who greet me. I decide to take a more demanding road for Norbello, passing through Chenale, a valley that is located between these three municipalities, Ghilarza, Norbello and Abbasanta. So, a nice descent and a nice climb … exactly what I missed these days!
I arrive at Norbello and immediately go to the MIDI, Museum of Image and Interactive Design, where Daniela is waiting for me with her beautiful dog Lola. I am amazed to have found such a place here. Inside an impressive collection of comics, DVDs, CDs, manga and a beautiful exhibition, ‘the woman in the eyes of art’. Even the place is very beautiful, once cheese was produced here, now culture.
After a while Alberto joins us, who will host me for the night, and all together, with Lola who trots alongside us, we take a trip around the village. The remains of the church of the Angel, below which are still bones and remains of ancient burials (all visible!).
Then we move to the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa Maria. The interior is amazing, there are inscriptions and medieval symbols, and red crosses, which someone interprets as the passage of the Templars in Sardinia.
In the afternoon, after a coffee at the beautiful house of a couple of friends, we visit the countryside around. Domusnovas Canales, an evocative and ancient village that still preserves very old houses and ancient streets with the bases of houses that no longer exist. The whole village is adorned with beautiful wooden sculptures, made from the remains of a giant centuries-old oak tree. We climb to the top of the mountain where there are the remains of a church and a castle, the view is exceptional.
The evening ends at the home of Alberto, with his family and with the choir Cuntzertu Norghiddesu Santu Juanni which includes Claudio, Alberto’s brother. They sing very well and I answer with my bass ukulele, trying to capture the essence of the music I just heard and reproduce it in my own way.
Answer to Su Cuntzertu Norghiddesu Santu Juanni.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Alberto, 30, despite his age, is like a historical memory of Norbello.
He tells me about the history of the village, of the churches, of the places, of the countryside. There is no house in the village he does not know, who belongs to or has belonged to in the past, he knows perfectly the topography, the toponymy, the history of the streets, how they were before, how the village has changed.
He collects old photographs, where he identifies places and characters of other times. He takes me to see a house that his family recently bought, right on the church square, wonderful even if it needs heavy restorarion, everything remained as it was decades ago. Alberto works there when he can to avoid its collapse. A huge courtyard and garden, where he also organized a festival, Teatrando A Corte.
Alberto is also working on a b&b that he would like to open soon. Alberto is one of those who remain, and I can see him in 50-60 years as one of the old men of the country to whom you can ask everything about the history of Norbello.
The morning of my departure around 10am Alberto and his brother Claudio return from the countryside, where they went at 6am to work with livestock. They are still all dirty with muddy boots.
Before they leave, they give me a cash contribution towards my project, also from the other members of Cuntzertu. I am moved by this gesture, which is also repeated by their sister Alessia who gives me a sealed envelope.
While pedaling towards Abbasanta I think back to their response to my ‘thank you’ for hospitality and generous help … ‘thank YOU for letting us spend a different day’.