It’s still warm, African heat, and I set off for the few kilometers that separate Pompu from Curcuris without imagining what awaits me, a constant climb over one of the high hills of the Marmilla. Once I get to the top, I dive fast towards Curcuris.
Once I get to the Town Hall, the Mayor Massimo and the vice-Mayor Claudia welcome me and, after a coffee (at the Town Hall because the only bar in the town today is closed), they take me around the narrow streets of this small village. The centre is very well kept with stone paving and almost all houses built with the typical yellow marl of this area. In the corner of the square there is a particular stone building, the former butcher’s shop, and in front of it there are four elderly people sitting, the only people around today, whom I greet after having felt their eyes on me for a while.
We arrive at the church of San Sebastiano, which facade is modern, but whose interior reveals the ancient age of the church. Here is the statue of the Virgin Mary and the old wooden statues of Saint George and Saint Sebastian. We then enter the former manor house of Pilloni, restored by the Municipality, where in addition to an old oven and a well outside, I visit the interiors, with old architectural elements still preserved, as well as the parts renovated for a future receptive use.
We wander around the narrow streets, full of views with stone houses and beautiful portals, and then we go up to the small church of Santa Maria, from the 14th century, white and with a beautiful bell tower and two old bells. We climb further up the hill and arrive at a vantage point that overlooks the remains of the Baru Mele castle in Ales and the Conc’e Mraxi of Monte Arci further behind.
We continue along a road that leads us to the hunting dogs training area, which is home to a wild boar colony. We see them over the net but as soon as they hear us they run away among the trees in the area of the land. Massimo makes a continuous sound and after a while, standing still, the boars trust us and return, always at a distance, we can see many of them, even with a few little ones. The area is rich in cork trees from which the bark has recently been extracted, and around it is a picnic area and a municipal house used for parties and other occasions.
Once back at the Town Hall, I admire the council chamber which contains some abstract painting by the local painter Giuseppe Sanna, which I really like. For lunch I am invited to the Mayor’s house, where his wife Daniela has prepared a lavish lunch with fish … at last!
In the afternoon Massimo and I take the car to visit another couple of sites. We skirt a little river and climb up a hill where the ancient Roman road that went towards Fordongianus seems to pass. We walk on the side of the hill, where we begin to find many remains of obsidian. It seems that even here there was an ancient obsidian production center. We are close to the remains of the nuraghe Perd’e Mogoru, around which we find many fragments of pottery that we observe with curiosity, leaving them in place for the archaeologists who, maybe, will one day dig here.
Finally, we move towards the point where there are the remains of a Roman villa and an area called ‘lapides’. Here we observe some graves covered with vegetation, those that once were tombs, covered with tombstones, now disappeared. We find only one tombstone, at the edge of the road, and I point out at Massimo some engraved lines, those that could be letters, maybe the name of the deceased.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Mayor Massimo gives me a book on Curcuris, as well as the pennant and a beautiful obsidian pebble. I leaf through the book to look for some curiosity for my short novel and I immediately ran into the description that Angius and Casalis make in their Geographic-historical-statistical-commercial dictionary of the States of H.M. the King of Sardinia. I am not struck by the description of Curcuris, but about the fact that I have never talked about this titanic work, which went into print between 1833 and 1856, compiled by the priest Goffredo Casalis.
The work was drafted with the collection of information sent to Casalis from all over the Savoy kingdom, therefore also north of Italy and parts of France. For Sardinia, on the other hand, the collection of all the material was entrusted to Vittorio Angius, a controversial figure who died in Piedmont in solitude, remembered for his greatness only by La Marmora and by the Canon Spano. Angius also began to collect data from local institutions, but he soon decided to visit the places himself, area by area, enriching the descriptions of the villages, reporting customs, beliefs, feasts, geography and history handed down orally of each individual village.
So far I had never searched the dictionary, but now I read on Curcuris: “Sardinia village in the Alles district of the province of Busàchi. It was in the ancient department of Usellus, of the Giudicato of Arborèa. It lies a mile from Ales between two hills, one, called Corongiu on the west, from which top is a vast horizon; the other called Bruncu de S. Maria is exposed to the east, where there is a damaging humidity”. And so on … well, I had to climb the first hill by bicycle, on the second I suffered this hot humid of mid-October…the dictionary is still valid today!