A handful of kilometers separate Gonnoscodina from Gonnostramatza. Today I complete the quadriad of villages with the prefix Gonnos– (the others are Gonnosfanadiga and Gonnosnò … although then there is also Gonnesa which sounds very similar).
On the origins of the prefix there are several interpretations: one is that of the meaning of “hill”, and all these villages actually rise on hills, while the other derives it from the Greek “ghenos” or “origin, lineage, kinship”, therefore, extending the concept, “village”.
In the village of the tamarix (su tramatzu), nestled between rocky hills, the mayor Alessio with the councilor Ilenia and Fabiana, a young local artist, welcome me in the Town Hall. We begin the walk through the streets of this village divided into two districts by the Rio Mannu, the oldest and largest “su xinau mannu” and the smaller “su xiadeddu”.
After passing the beautiful mural by Mexican artist Israel Zzepda (which I was able to admire also in Solarussa) we arrive at the building of the former Monte Granatico which houses the Turcus and Morus multimedia museum, which tells of a millennium of barbarian invasions in Sardinia.
The setting is modern and very interesting, and tells not only the invasions of fearsome pirates such as the Barbarossa, the safeguard of the seas by Andrea Doria, the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, but also tells the stories of the coastal defense towers, of the disappeared villages, and of many historical events told directly by the characters that come to life in multimedia reconstructions.
Here there are also important artifacts and objects: a 500-year-old epigraph commemorating the invasion of Barbarossa, the retable of the Annunciation by Lorenzo Cavaro, from 1501, usually kept in the parish church of San Michele Arcangelo now under renovation, and originally coming from the church of Serzela, a village repeatedly attacked by the Moors and then disappeared. And yet many finds of ceramics from Serzela, with numerous and colorful types from all over the Mediterranean.
Leaving the museum, we visit the nearby municipal library, in the former Town Hall right next to the river that cuts the village in two. We then resume the walk through the streets where, among modern constructions, beautiful portals emerge, suggestive glimpses of the past such as the former kindergarten, and old houses that alternate rock with mud bricks.
We go up to the upper part of the village, at the foot of the Su Cuccaioni hill, from which you can admire the roofs and the surrounding landscape, and descend towards the Donna Caterina Park, a square named in honour of the owner of a house that once existed in this space and then knocked down. Community events are held here today.
After passing the beautiful “vintage” sign of the Italian Touring Club (there are very few left in Sardinia!) we skirt the church of Sant’Antonio Abate and return to the square where the parish church of San Michele Arcangelo, of sixteenth-century origins and currently under renovation.
Lunch takes place in the Town Hall with all the staff of the Municipality to celebrate the retirement of the policeman Alessio, in a joyful atmosphere. In the afternoon we visit the surroundings of Gonnostramatza. We go to the area where the village of Serzela once stood, built on a previous Nuragic settlement.
Important artifacts from every period were found here, funerary objects and above all a gold crown that is said to be one of the oldest in Europe. Nearby there are also the remains of two roads that led to Serzela.
We conclude the visits to the rural church of San Paolo, the only remaining building in Serzela and which once housed the retable of Cavaro seen this morning at the museum, and which today houses an old inscription in Sardinian that refers to the destruction of the village of Uras by the Turks and Moors, led by the pirate Barbarossa.
We walk around the church, skirting plowed fields right where Serzela’s houses once stood. I’m curious. I enter a field and dig my hands between the clods, moving earth. Shards of pottery come to light. Many, too many. Of all colours and probably from various eras and geographical origins. Unfortunately they have to stay here.
Alessio tells me that a few days ago the fourth edition of the Archeofestival took place in Gonnostramatza, in which the results of the Gonnostramatza Project were presented, a project aimed at reconstructing life in Marmilla between the end of the Copper Age and the Bronze Age through the analysis of archaeological finds, aimed at inform the populations on the immense and precious heritage of the territory.
The evening ends at the bar where Cristina, an archeology student at the University of Cagliari, joins us. We talk about archeology, about the spiritual path of San Saturnino which passes through here, and about art. In fact, a series of graphic works by Fabiana are exhibited in a room of the bar, and among the many I like the one that represents a woman with Junoesque shapes, with a stylised mask of the Ottana “boe”, who plays a double bass and, in the words by Fabiana “in performing the gesture with the bow generates an explosion of music and freedom”.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
It’s late. Leaving the bar, Fabiana takes us to see two murals she made, whose colours shine when lightened by the headlights of our car. It is time to return to Michele Cuscusa’s farmhouse, in Genna Figu, close to what is called Sa Costa Manna, the steep edge of the high hills bordering the Collinas territory.
Michele welcomes me and offers me genuine products from his farm that produces cheese and even wine. But above all Michele tells me about the experiences that other people have lived in his farm. For example, when a guy with psycho-physical problems asked to work here. Every day he helped in everything he could with various activities.
Or a Peruvian girl who came here to gain experience, just during the shepherds’ protest for the low cost of milk in early 2019. Her dream was to bring the Sardinian sheep to Peru, where the animals are followed by women. It seems that the girl had already had a similar experience, but a very negative one, while here she seemed very happy, every day she helped in the production of cheese and looked after the animals.
Today, I am lucky to meet Maho, a Japanese girl in her second year of university who took a gap year to have an anthropological experience. When I ask her how she got from Japan to Gonnostramatza, Maho tells me that long ago, in class they studied how to deal with the problem of overpopulation of wild animals they have in Japan. They therefore tackled the subject of hunting and meat consumption, and they even experimented and learned how to make wild boar sausages.
During this period an Italian chef was in Japan to promote Italian cuisine. Maho had the desire to have an experience in Italy. She found Michele’s company thanks to her contact with Tomoko Fujita, a Japanese lady who published a Sardinian cookery book.
So Maho is here for a month, she follows Michele’s work every day, making cheese and looking after sheep and goats, and she also dedicates herself to welcoming guests (like me!) in the farmhouse. As soon as she arrived, Maho did not understand Italian, and like a child she began to follow gestural instructions. She slowly learned the basic words, both in Italian and in Sardinian, but mainly she is learning without big explanations, simply by observing. Maho is realising that Sardinia is a very different place from the Italy she imagined, and she has also begun to observe local traditions and culture, which will certainly be useful in her future anthropology studies.