Once left Lunamatrona, I pedal towards one of the unmistakable basaltic plateaus of Marmilla, the Giara di Siddi, also known as Su Pranu, and I easily arrive in Siddi where the guys from the Villa Silli Cooperative are waiting for me. Luca, Stefania and Carmen will take care of me for the day.
The churches in Sardinia never cease to amaze me. Not so much the parish churches, as here the church of the Visitation of Santa Maria Vergine, in Sardinian baroque style which contains important wooden statues and retables, but especially the Romanesque churches, such as that of San Michele that we visit, on the outskirts of the village.
The exterior is fascinating for many reasons. Two naves, one main and one smaller, with two entrance doors, the facade with variegated stones, the resistant dark basalt, and the worn gray marl and yellow sandstone.
But above all a mysterious architrave on the smaller portal, which provides scholars with a sort of ancient puzzle: five human figures, the first of which is upside down. Who is he? Lucifer expelled from heaven? Or the symbol of death?
We then head to the building of the former hospital which now houses the Ornithological Museum. In two well-set up rooms, specimens of almost all the volatile fauna of Sardinia are preserved, from birds of prey, the most captivating section for me, to much less known species like the sea partridge.
The town center is full of typical Campidanese houses, with high walls of marl and sandstone, and important portals. One of these is Casa Puddu, where the famous S’Apposentu restaurant by Roberto Petza was once located, one of the few Sardinian restaurants awarded with Michelin stars.
Another is the seventeenth-century Casa Steri, which houses the Museum of Agri-food Traditions of Sardinia. In its living and non-living spaces, such as the premises for food production or animal shelters, the production cycles of the main Sardinian foods, oil, milk and cheese, bread, sweets are told.
We stop at the Sapori Antichi artisan confectionery laboratory, owned by Maria, where we taste delicious almond cantucci, then we leave the village, skirting a large building, the former Pastificio Puddu, in business since the 1950s and unfortunately closed in 1995.
We go and visit Gianpiero’s bio veggie gardens. We walk among the fields planted with tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines. Gianpiero explains how to grow vegetables without adding chemicals. His tactic, to ensure that the insects do not destroy the crop, is to grow multiple crops together, in order to attract different, often rival, insects that fight each other.
Close to these fields there are also the lands where the old village of Tradoriu once stood, one of the many Roman and medieval centres of the territory that have now disappeared.
After a delicious lunch at the Zia Luciana restaurant, we head towards the Sa Fogaia Park, so named for the important activity of the Carbonari that was once carried out here. We walk along the paths, among a rich vegetation always illustrated by small signs, and Carmen explains its characteristics to me.
We go up through the holm oak wood that runs along the Giara di Siddi and, finally, we reach the top, from which I can enjoy an amazing view of the area. Although this Giara is smaller and less known than that of Gesturi, it preserves very important archaeological remains.
It seems that the existence of at least sixteen nuraghi has been found on the edge of this plateau. We visit the nuraghe Sa Fogaia, a “corridor” protonuraghe, later expanded in the Nuragic period and still populated in the Punic, then Roman and medieval times. We enter the corridor structure, the oldest and still in good condition, while the more recent parts have partially collapsed.
From here we move to visit one of the best known giants ‘tombs in Sardinia, Sa domu’ e s’orcu (homonymous of many other Sardinian Nuragic structures). The structure is immense, a fifteen meter corridor still partially covered, and an eighteen meter exedra, made of immense basalt slabs.
Back in the village we return to the Ornithological Museum where a large audience is waiting for me for the musical event organised by the guys of the Villa Silli Cooperative and the Municipality, as part of Appetitamente, an almost ten-year event that combines gastronomy and culture.
In the words of the guys Appetitamente is “a space where to practice pleasure, conviviality, diversity, friendship, ethics, doubt, curiosity, longevity, happiness, beauty”. And that’s what happens tonight to the sound of my ukulele and my voice telling the journey.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Walking through the historic centre we arrive at what was once the house of “Su Divinu“, Lucifero Porta, who lived in the eighteenth century, known throughout the area, a strange character who foresaw the future.
Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a priest from Escovedu, Pietro Maria Cossu, conducted an investigation into the traditions, beliefs, superstitions and customs of the Marmilla populations.
Among the themes sought were the devotions and superstitions around the mass, s’ogu liau (the evil eye), is malifattus (the spell), is cosas malas (the infestations, as in the case of haunted houses), and Su Divinu de Siddi (Siddi’s soothsayer).
This is how Cossu reports: “This seer, born and lived in Siddi in the 18th century and also known outside the borders of Marmilla, was actually called Lucifero Porta. Although he possessed the gift of divination, he was a poor commoner who lived for the day. Even today he is remembered throughout the island and popular tradition has handed down to posterity an infinite number of stories and anecdotes concerning him “.
Stopping at the bar to have a coffee we meet one of those gentlemen who know many anecdotes of the village. He tells me about Ziu Lucenziu, a character from the village who in turn told stories between reality and fairy tales.
Amid the laughter, the following anecdotes come out that Ziu Lucenziu always told:
– Many years ago, when acrobats arrived in the village, there was one who played acrobatic and magic tricks. Passing by the roast fish stall, he boasted that he could do this and do that, so Ziu Lucenziu said to him: “listen you pain in the ass, if you know how to do everything why don’t you take this roasted mullet and make it come back alive?”
– One day they brought huge fuses from the Pastificio Puddu to Ziu Lucenziu to be repaired. He refused, saying that in reality those were not fuses but residual bombs from the war!
– One day Ziu Lucenziu managed to go to the Meazza stadium to watch a Milan match. He swore the stadium was so big that it took him a week to get out!
– During the war in Russia Ziu Lecenziu (but there is no total certainty that he really fought in that war) witnessed the scene of some soldiers cooking cauliflower in a cauldron. He swore that the cauldron was so big that the soldiers, from one side to the other, had to scream, unable to hear themselves. And then he says he worked in the fields, so large that with the thresher it took him a week to get to the end of the field, and one week to return.
– One day Ziu Lucenziu found a mushroom so large that he went to live under it with his family for a week, eating the snails that were all around.
Here everyone agrees that today in the village there are no characters like Ziu Lucenziu, ready to brighten up the evenings at the bar with one or more glasses of wine and a laugh.