Te Marmilla is a sort of large territory dotted with villages very close to each other, a sort of rural city with many districts. To get from Baradili to Baressa, three kilometers all flat, it takes a few minutes.
I enter the “village of almonds“, famous for its annual festival which has reached its twenty-ninth edition, welcomed by the Mayor Piergiorgio by the deputy Alberto and by the councilor Valeria. Franco, my dentist, a family friend who lives in Cagliari but was born in Baressa, joined us here.
Piergiorgio is keen to introduce me to all the staff, and after saying hello to every single emplyee of the Municipality, we go to the hotel Il Mandorlo, a beautiful structure where I will stay overnight, consisting of various complexes of restored stone houses in the historic center of the village.
Once left bike and luggage, we start a walk through the streets of the center, full of ancient light stone houses, with beautiful portals, courtyards and arcades. The courtyard of one of these manor houses, purchased and restored by the Municipality, has become a public space, enriched by a beautiful mural by Pinuccio Sciola.
We arrive at the “Casa Museo“, an ancient restored mansion where objects of peasant art have been recovered and preserved, including a beautiful millstone. These places, present in almost all the countries I visit, manage to throw you in a world that has now disappeared, made up of ancient crafts and slow work rhythms that adapted to the cycle of the seasons.
We walk up to the parish church of San Giorgio, built in the seventeenth century but which has undergone various changes over the centuries, around which there are still traces of the old cemetery. The parish priest Don Jerome, a euphoric and likeable African man, shows us around. Stained glass windows, an ancient baptistery and above all an exhibition of important polychrome wooden statues preserved in the sacristy.
We conclude the visit by climbing the bell tower, which still retains an ancient bell from 1528. From here I admire the whole village from above, and the Marmilla area that extends up to the Giara di Gesturi.
In the countryside around Baressa there is also the church of Santa Maria di Atzeni, rebuilt on the site where, until about 1730, the village of Atzeni stood, then abandoned and gradually completely destroyed.
Not far from the church is the Funtana Bella, a well-restored nineteenth-century fountain, a meeting place for women from the beginning of the last century and beyond.
The morning ends with a visit to the elementary school. Teachers and children are enthusiastic about my stories and my music and the welcome, as always, is that of a star, in the packed gym where the sound of the ukulele echoes powerfully. Like many mayors on this trip, Piergiorgio also believed in the educational power of the message of my project, the music, the journey, the knowledge of Sardinia.
Back at the Il Mandorlo hotel they await us for a colossal lunch, where I can taste excellent products, flavored with a delicious local olive oil and washed down with Tittia white wine, produced by the friends who hosted me in Sini.
The tiredness of the journey, especially in the last few days, has made itself felt and the pains in the joints increase. Fortunately, even my hosts are beginning to understand this, so I spend the evening resting. There are “only” two months (55 stages) before my arrival in Cagliari.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Autelio, along with other captive soldiers who fought on the Eastern Front during World War II, were lined up by the German guards in front of the platoon. Every day a couple of soldiers were chosen at random, ordered to dig pits, then shot and thrown inside. That day the Germans chose two soldiers, one to the right and one to the left of Autelio. It was his lucky day.
Some time later Autelio was deported to Yugoslavia. Shortly before the border he managed to jump off the train and escape to the fields arriving in Italy. Here, month after month, he exchanged his work on farms for bread and water, until, farm after farm, he walked as far as the outskirts of Rome, settling in the Agro Pontino.
Autelio worked hard in the countryside, until he managed to raise the money for the ferry boat ticket that would take him back once and for all to Sardinia, in his village of origin Baressa.
From his return from the war onwards, it is not known whether for a vow he made, every year Autelio went barefoot to Tuili, to the church of Sant’Antonio Abate. There are those who say that he often walked barefoot even in Baressa. There are those who remember him as a silent and strange type, until his death years ago. Who knows whether with those silences Autelio wanted just to forget about those years spent in war.