I walk the short distance between Curcuris and Gonnosnò on the former railway that led from Ales to Villamar. An all-flat path that winds with gentle curves through the Marmilla hills, up to the foot of the Giara di Gesturi, which has been part of my daily field of vision for a few weeks now.
Arrived in the Town Hall, the Mayor Mauro welcomes me with the municipal technician Giorgio ready to take me for a tour of the territory. The first stop is the hamlet of Figu which I have already crossed by bicycle. I had noticed the beautiful church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary on a hill.
Figu was the first town where, in 1678, Monte Granatico, or the wheat bank, was founded. It was an independent municipality until 1928 when, together with Gonnosnò they became fractions of the municipality of Baressa, and then separated in 1947 as the municipality of Gonnosnò with its hamlet.
Not far from here, in the locality of San Salvatore, there is a nuragic well temple in which water is still present. It is thought that this was the original nucleus of the prehistoric village, which has now disappeared.
Reached a plateau above San Salvatore we arrive at the site of Is Lapideddas. As the name suggests (“lapide” means grave in Italian), this was a burial place. There are four tombs of the giants, unfortunately not in excellent condition, but one of them still visible with its elongated shape circumscribed by large stone boulders.
Back in the village, I am taken over by Simona, the municipal warden, who takes me to the side of the Giara di Gesturi belonging to the municipality of Gonnosnò. As I was able to ascertain in the previous weeks, there are several municipalities whose territory falls on one side of the Giara, but the summit is divided only between the municipalities of Genoni (which I visited), Gesturi, Tuili and Setzu.
At the top we park and, after passing a gate, we enter one of the great “pauli”, the natural lakes, which in this period are completely dry. I hope to see some ponies from the Giara, but we only cross goats.
We arrive at the Nuraghe Nieddu. While it is true that the municipality of Gonnosnò does not fall on the top of the Giara, it nevertheless has this important archaeological monument located right on a rocky outcrop (and therefore technically on the slope!) overlooking the whole of Alta Marmilla and Monte Arci.
Next to the nuraghe there is a spartan stone construction, a sort of modern pinnet with a courtyard around it. It seems that some of its stones come from the nuraghe itself. Simona explains to me that Filippo, the only inhabitant of the Giara di Gesturi, lives here. His ancestors always lived here, and once his parents died, he decided to stay there, ignoring the municipality’s offer of accommodation in the village.
As we descend the road to get back to the car, we meet Filippo, who has broken the apixedda (the typical Fiat motor-cart used by many peasants) and is walking home followed by a very nice dog with two heavy sacks on his shoulders!
It’s time for lunch. Simona invites me to lunch with her and Gabriella the social worker in their office in the Town Hall. And soon after I am joined by Fabrizio, owner of Biccius Bike who had already done a bicycle check-up on my now distant day in Marrubiu. Fabrizio came with the van and he will stay a few hours to do some repairs and fine-tune my bicycle which by now, like my joints, is starting to suffer this journey!
The last visit to the town is with Andrea, a guy who is passionate about the village’s history. We go to Casa Atzori where the Ethnographic Museum of Peasant Civilisation is located. A series of rooms and a beautiful stone house overlook a well-renovated courtyard, inside which there are exhibits of objects from past life and faithful reconstructions of the environments, such as the kitchen, bedrooms, including some traditional dresses.
Walking through the streets of the village waiting for Fabrizio to finish the repair, I admire the light-colored stone houses, the countless wooden portals surmounted by stone arches, the Aragonese ornamentation of some windows and doors, the courtyards of the houses full of fruit trees, finally arriving at the church of Sant’Elena with a sober facade and a high bell tower that stands out against the sunset.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
As I walk along the old railway I wonder which line passed through here. On this trip I learned about and traveled many stretches of old narrow-gauge railway lines, but I was missing this one.
The history of the old railways in Sardinia fascinates me more and more. I am looking for some info on these two lines. The nice site www.lestradeferrate.it enlightens me:
“The Isili – Villacidro and its branch from Villamar to Ales were the first secondary railways to be built in Sardinia in the 20th century; their design began in the 10s by the engineers Gracco Tronci, Stanislao and Dionigi Scano of the Complementary Railways of Sardinia (FCS) […].
The intention was to create a route intended to connect the Sarcidano area in the Nuorese area to the Campidano area in the Cagliari area, with an intermediate section passing through the Marmilla. […]
The opening of the two new FCS lines took place on 21 June 1915. […]
We do not have any reliable information on the aforementioned railways regarding their vicissitudes between the 1930s and 1940s; […]
In the immediate post-war period, the situation for the FCS had deteriorated so much that it was forced to reduce the train service on the two lines of the Marmilla to a single pair of trips per day or even three times a week. […]
But already in the early 1950s at the Ministry of Transport new ideas began to sprout, aimed at increasing public road connections in Italy to the detriment of railways: it was thus that the diligent bureaucrats of the aforementioned department began with methodical tenacity to identify the first “dry branches” to be subjected to the executioner’s cleaver. Once they found the target to hit, everything else was just the logical consequence; […]
The unfortunate end for the two sections of the FCS (the first to be sacrificed in Sardinia) came on 1 July 1956 with the provision to close both routes, whose tracks were soon completely removed […] “