Las Plassas, Is Pratzas, the squares, perhaps the large squares where the wheat was threshed. The only contact that I managed to have at the last is with Alessandro, who has founded the Assa Sardisca association (“a sa sardisca“, in the fashion of Sardinians).
And from the moment I arrive at their home, where the association’s headquarters are also located, it is a dip in the Middle Ages. In fact, the cultural association is responsible for promoting Sardinian medieval history, especially that of the Giudicale kingdom of Arborea.
I am welcomed at the reception, where there are heraldic coats of arms, reconstructions of objects, of swords, all made by Alessandro, and always in view the Arborense flag with the characteristic tree.
We enter the medieval tavern, where the kitchen has a reed roof that is more than two hundred years old. Everything is faithfully reconstructed. In the adjacent room, on the other hand, there are bows, crossbows and arrows, all built by Alessandro following the models of three different masters. And here there is also a model of a Nuragic bow, from which the current Olympic arch seems to derive.
We pass to the room of the dresses, reconstructed by Alessandro analysing some drawings, and then hand made by the women of the village. In another area there are all the leather accessories, including shoes, with faithful reconstructions.
But the best part comes towards the end. We enter the “refectory of the soldier”, the dining room of the knights, which contains tables and 71 seats. The tables are decorated with objects faithfully reconstructed on the basis of ceramics found in the castle. Impressive.
I am still amazed by the work Alessandro has put in this place. Outside there is also a space used for archery. When we go out for a walk it seems to me that I have been projected back in time and I see everything with different eyes.
Like for example the remains of the Marmilla Castle, which are on top of the conical hill next to the town, and which seems to me to be teeming with medieval people, soldiers, artisans, musicians. Here was the border between the Giudicato of Arborea and that of Caralis.
A panel at the beginning of the path that leads up to the castle indicates its complex history. And not far from here is the MudA, the multimedia museum of the Kingdom of Arborea, unfortunately closed today.
And in the medieval atmosphere it is the turn of the churches. The parish church of Santa Maria Maddalena dates back to the 17th century, with Renaissance touches. The San Sebastiano church, on the dangerous main road where car racing forced the installation of a famous and hated speed camera, is from the eighteenth century but modified and restored several times. The San Giuseppe church together with the annexed convent of the Capuchin friars was from the nineteenth century and is now in ruins.
But there are two more interesting churches that are medieval. The first is the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (or Montserrat), which preserves a Nuragic well inside and traces of Punic, Roman and Byzantine presence have been found around the building. The cult of the Aragonese saint is deeply felt and the celebration that takes place here in September lasts a whole week. The other church is only a memory as there is no trace of it except in written memoirs. This is the church of Sant’Antioco, probably the first church built in the village in the early Middle Ages.
Before getting back onto the saddle to reach Barumini, where I will stay overnight, Alessandro takes me to a special person, another medieval lover.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
We get to the edge of the village and enter the house of Antonio di Malta, a musician specialised in medieval music. Antonio welcomes us in a room where I identifies instruments that are unfamiliar to me, except for the fact that they have strings.
I am fascinated by learning about these instruments, especially medieval lutes, the vielle, an ancestor of the viola, but also baroque violas. Antonio is an eclectic instrumentalist who plays them all, and who also plays various types of medieval and baroque flutes.
He tells me about his activities both as a concert performer and as an event organiser. His work fits perfectly into this context, and certainly over the years he has had great merit in spreading classical musical culture in this area.
Antonio makes me hear the sounds of instruments, and he plays music for me that, despite my classical studies, seems fresh and new to me. Then I manage to try out a viola da gamba, on which I try to improvise a musical fragment, which, however, does not have much of a medieval character… maybe.