I start the day (cloudy and rainy … autumn has arrived) in Barumini with Aldo, who kindly welcomed me last night upon my arrival in the village from Las Plassas, after a few kilometers of cycling on the plains.
After showing me his activity of selling Sardinian products in the village centre, which unfortunately is not going very well, despite the important tourist flow that there is here, Aldo introduces me to the activity that has been successfully accompanying him since 2014: the Ape Calessino – Barumini in Tour.
Sardinia is the land of the “apixedde”, the historic Ape Piaggio. They are an inevitable element of the Sardinian countryside, of the villages, as well as of the cities (I remember that in Cagliari one day I saw the gas tanks seller, who would bring them to your place on an apixedda, with his inevitable breath of alcohol, who turned on two wheels at full speed, going in circles on a dirt road surrounded by a cloud of dust). And their unmistakable sound every now and then pops out of the countryside, from an alley, and often caught up with me and passed me while I was traveling from one village to another.
But I did not know the Ape Calessino model. And so Aldo tells me his story, his birth in 1948 as a model modified for tourism purposes and then successfully exported all over the world. Finally I get on it, Aldo driving and I comfortably in the back, with my phone ready to film this experience.
The first ride is out of town in the direction of one of the most iconic archaeological sites in Sardinia, the “palace” of Su Nuraxi, a site declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1997. Aldo has reserved a ticket for me so he leaves me here and will return to fetch me at the end of the guided tour.
I think I came to this place twice, the first on a school trip to elementary school, the second as a young man. But today, also in light of the knowledge I have acquired on this trip, I enjoy visiting this site in a more conscious way.
The site, excavated in the 1950s under the direction of the archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, from Barumini, is truly impressive. The name of “palace” is well suited to this nuragic complex, built and completed in different phases and periods, with a central tower whose height exceeds 18 meters, four side towers, and the surrounding village, also inhabited in Roman times as testified by the remains of buildings and artifacts found.
The day is gloomy and it starts to drizzle. Fortunately we are able to reach the internal courtyard of the palace via stone steps which will soon become slippery and the guided tours will therefore be interrupted. But here I am, admiring these enormous basalt stones, and I wonder if this is really the largest Nuragic complex in Sardinia, or if something bigger exists under some hill or site that is only partially excavated. In most of the villages that have a Nuragic archaeological site, the phrase that was said to me during the visits is always the same: “if you dig here, a larger complex than that of Barumini comes out!”
Aldo comes back to pick me up with the Ape Calessino and takes me for a ride in the area surrounding the town. We skirt the hills where there are the remains of another nuraghe, Sa Furca, so called because it was used by the Spaniards as a place of executions.
We then walk along the ancient Roman road that connected Barumini to Mandas, and we arrive at the Roman bridge over the Rio Mannu, one of the twelve Rio Mannu existing in Sardinia and the only one I knew before this trip as the one that flows into the territory of Elmas, in the lagoon of Santa Gilla.
We pass the ruins of the church of the Holy Trinity, dating back to 1100 and which had annexed a convent, and we return to the village where, always aboard the Ape, Aldo shows me the main churches. We arrive at that of San Francesco, from 1600, on a large square and with the adjoining convent. The parish priest is just leaving but stops to let us make a quick visit inside.
Then the church of San Giovanni Battista, from the fourteenth century but enlarged in the sixteenth century, the church of Santa Tecla in Aragonese style, and finally the parish church of the Beata Vergine Immacolata, where we stop for a visit. Initially born as a private chapel of the Zapata family, it presents decorative elements of an impressive richness. Most of the marbles are from Carrara, the baptismal font is from the seventeenth century, the beautiful wooden altar carved on the spot, and then paintings everywhere, and an important retable attributed to the cousin of the Maestro di Castelsardo.
In the afternoon I visit another important site: the Casa Zapata, feudal residence of the Spanish barons, built in the sixteenth century over the Nuraxi e ’Cresia nuraghe, demolished and used as the base for the palace. This nuraghe today is the seat of a beautiful archaeological museum managed by the Barumini Foundation. Thanks to transparent floors and walkways, it is possible to observe the remains of the nuraghe below, while the relics found there can be admired in the display cases.
Inside there is a courtyard overlooked by other rooms where a historical-archival and ethnographic section has been set up, and the Launeddas Museum, whose exhibition was curated by the master Luigi Lai.
The visit to the village is over, but not the day. Today, in fact, I am the guest of a special person, originally from Barumini who has returned to her family home to be part of the hospitality network for my project. And special person especially for having told, I would say with an exceptional meticulousness, the evolution of jazz in Sardinia in a series of books. I’m talking about the journalist Claudio Loi.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Claudio Loi arrived in Barumini in the morning with his daughter Martina. They welcomed me with a nice tray of pastry and sparkling wine, and reserved a room in the family home, on the main street, where in the late evening the journalist Simone Cavagnino, a friend as well as my press officer, joins us with whom we begin to a live broadcast on Unica Radio to talk about my project which is about to end.
Simone and Claudio are the authors of the latest issue of the Aipsa editions of Cagliari, dedicated to Sardinian jazz, of 2018, entitled Sardegna, Jazz and surroundings. I had the honour of being included in the volume with an interview that Simone gave me a few years ago, one of the many interviews in the book with island artists, jazz musicians but also musicians of genres that in some way orbit around jazz.
But Claudio Loi’s work goes beyond this beautiful volume. Claudio has sorted out the names, records and events of jazz (but not only) in a series of books (all Aipsa editions) that I like to list as they are all part of my library:
– The island of discs. Journey through the record production in Sardinia (2008);
– Sardinia Jazz. Jazz in Sardinia in the Zero years (2010). This title obtained the prestigious Jazzit Award 2010, and my name also appears on Alessandro Garau’s Rebis album;
– Sardinia Hot Jazz. The origins of jazz in Sardinia from Antonio Gramsci to Marcello Melis (2011);
– Glocal Jazz, 11 stories and 216 shades of jazz (in Sardinia) (2013). Among the discographies listed there are also some of my works;
– Billy! The life and music of Roberto Billy Sechi jazz drummer (2015).
And jazz is also in the title “When Jazz Between Midnight and One”, the new book by Alessandro Frailis, 36 years old from Barumini. The collection of eleven short stories with different themes, almost all set in Cagliari, is the result of the collaboration with the publishing house “The Dreamers” of Lecce, with which he also published the first novel “Selene’s journey among the stars”. The Baruminese writer has been writing and cultivating a passion for writing since he was a child, until he entered the mechanism of the forum Writer’s Dream, the largest publishing forum in Italy, now closed. With single stories he has won 16 publications and 2 competitions nationwide.