In no time at all from Ussaramanna I arrive in Baradili, in the middle of the fields of the Marmilla, famous for being the smallest village in Sardinia. It is always necessary to specify in terms of inhabitants, seventy-seven, because the smallest in terms of territorial extension is Modolo.
Once entered the small village, the two councilors Marianna and Arianna welcome me to the Town Hall and accompany me to my accommodation, the ancient houses renovated by the Municipality and used as accommodation for visitors, artists, etc.
Although Baradili has suffered heavily from the effects of depopulation, walking through its streets one has the feeling of being in a lively and well-kept place, well cared for and full of energy.
Many of the ancient houses, built with the typical light marly stones, have beautiful courtyards and some are embellished with external pergolas. In a crossroads between the narrow streets Arianna proudly shows me a creation of her, a series of floral decorations on the walls of the houses, a sort of art installation that also includes a man on a bicycle!
We walk along the playground around which there is a pizzeria, a kiosk bar, the swimming pool and other sports facilities, and return to the Town Hall, around which there is an area equipped for campers, powered by a photovoltaic system.
When I ask if there are archaeological evidences in Baradili, Marianna and Arianna answer me that the same town probably stands on a Nuragic site of which no trace remains, and that the only remains are those of Nuraxi Candebi of which little remains, and those of Roman baths in the locality of Cibixia.
We arrive at the large square embellished by the sculptures of Pinuccio Sciola which overlooks the parish church of Santa Margherita. Inside I am told the story of the statue of the saint. It seems that some farmers found it in a field where they worked and took it to the parish priest who at that moment was sitting at the table with a plate of ravioli. Out of happiness, the parish priest invited the peasants to lunch, and other inhabitants were attracted by the euphoria. The plate of ravioli, multiplied, was enough to feed everyone!
For this reason the saint is called Santa Margherita agattada (found) or “de is cruguxionis” or “of the ravioli”. But the saint is also linked to the cult of water, as she is the saint of women in labor and children with speech difficulties. It is said that the water from the source in Nuraxi Candebi, associated with Santa Margherita, has therapeutic properties. They told me that once a miracle had happened, a child started to speak again after drinking this water from the silver bell tied to the statue of the saint.
In 1995, to honor the story of the saint, the ravioli festival was born. Today the festival is no longer held and has been replaced by another event, I Fili del Gusto, which also involves neighbouring villages. The production of ravioli always takes place in homes and also at the Santa Margherita pasta factory, which also produces seadas and different types of pasta.
In the evening I go to the Monte Granatico where the Pinocchio&Friends exhibition is set up. Here I am joined by the author of the exhibition Federico Coni, the Baloccaio/Maestrodascia already met in Ales, by Beppe Manias, head of the Gramsciana Library met in Villa Verde, and by Giorgio Spiga, creator of MyLand whom I meet again for the third time (after he hosted me in his Marrubiu and who accompanied me on the Ussassai–Villagrande Strisaili route).
The exhibition is illustrated to me by Federico and commented by Beppe, who highlights the originality with which the Maestrodascia created 53 characters from Collodi’s Pinocchio fairy tale. They range from the puppet in various situations, including in the shark’s mouth, to the characters, Geppetto, the Fire Eater (who seems to embody all of us bearded men except Giorgio), the Carabinieri, and many others.
The Bottega delle Idee has been set up in a room upstairs, where Federico holds workshops for the youngest on how to work with wood. In the midst of this Collodi setting I improvise a performance inspired by the famous melody by Fiorenzo Carpi in Luigi Comencini’s film.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Today’s fragment, inspired by the music of Pinocchio, has as its theme the numbers 3 and 77. The tempo of the music is in 3 contains 77 notes. In fact, in Baradili there are 3 pizzerias for 77 inhabitants. Perhaps the highest concentration of pizzerias per inhabitants in the world!
One of these is the famous Sa Scolla, which attracts fans of good pizza from all over Sardinia. Created by chef Roberto Petza, Sa Scolla (the school) is located in the central Piazza Santa Margherita, in the historic Casa Puddu. The Casa Puddu Academy was also established here, which organises courses with big names in Sardinian, national and international cuisine but also with teachers and experts in gastronomic sciences, nutrition and food hygiene technicians.
But it must also be said that this year the number three appears in the demographic statistics of Baradili. In fact, I am told that three new couples have taken up residence here in 2019. A glimmer of hope for the villages suffering from the problem of depopulation. Could pizza be the motivation? Or the services, the quality of life and the peace enjoyed in the smallest town in Sardinia?