It is cold a morning, nine degrees. As the year draws to a close, and my arrival is approaching, autumn has arrived, the second as I travel, and winter is pressing. The hot summer, which only ended in October, is already a memory.
Here I am welcomed by the owner Claudio who proudly shows me the structure and all the work that has been done here with his brother Simone. The farmhouse overlooks Gergei and the Sarcidano and is close to the Giara di Serri. It is from here that the legend has it that “is perdas” came, the large stones left by the Nuragic people as evidence of their existence.
And it is in this land known as “Fund’e Caronas” that three thousand years later the two brothers Claudio and Simone as children, climbing the ridge, rolled stones towards the valley floor. One of these in particular stopped in the land where the family stable was located.
Once grown up and away from Sardinia, the brothers decide to carry out a project to tell the culture and traditions of this territory. This is how this place was born stone after stone in 2015, in an authentic context and where you can live regenerating experiences.
Claudio proudly shows me the pile of stones that is the symbol and logo of the farmhouse, and, before a succulent lunch in the beautiful main room of the structure, he tells me about his project which, unlike many other expressions of praise of the Nuragic culture that I consider in bad taste, intrigues me a lot.
Claudio would like to build a nuraghe. Not a scale model or an approximation. He shows me some technical drawings, made by an architectural firm. The nuraghe would be built with the original dimensions, techniques and materials. Claudio is sure that sooner or later, with the support of the municipal administration, he will succeed in this aim.
After lunch, Claudio takes me to visit a beautiful production reality in the area, the Cantine Olianas (Olianas Cellars). The owner Rossella welcomes us and guides us not only through the environments where the production of wine takes place, unique because with fermentation in amphorae rather than in barrels, but also through part of the vines, where the cultivation is biodynamic, a more balanced organic agriculture with the terrestrial ecosystem, with natural fertilisers and influenced by the lunar cycles.
At the end of the tour, a nice glass of white awaits us. We drink on the terrace of the estate, from where I can admire the surrounding area, the vineyards and part of the village.
In Gergei there is a piece of my family’s history. Gergei is a name that I have always heard since I was a child due to the stories told by my maternal grandmother. So today, as in other places on this trip, I take the opportunity to do some genealogical research. At the registry office of the municipality I can find the descendants of Eugenio Mundula, grandfather of my grandmother whom I looked for yesterday in Isili, including my great-grandmother Pietrina born here in 1893 and whom I remember well in her house in Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Cagliari.
In the evening I walk through the streets and alleys of the village, very quiet, I pass the parish church of San Vito, built with the typical light stone of the area, and I reach the deconsecrated church of Santa Barbara where Giulia, president of the Mario Cesare Association, guides me through an exhibition of works by the local painter Mario Cesare and tells me his story. Here there is also a collective exhibition of artists who drew inspiration from Gergei and the work of Mario Cesare to participate in the Mario Cesare Prize.
We walk around the village as I am fascinated by the history of this painter. We arrive at Piazza Ollanu, where a plaque commemorates Pierino Ollanu, a Gergeese victim of an attack by the Red Brigades in Piazza Nicosia in Rome, who died in Rome on May 3, 1979.
We then come to what must have been the house where my great-grandmother was born or where she lived, now owned by some heir who I don’t know. And a little further on there is another beautiful accommodation, which belongs to Giulia’s brother, Samuel, from whom I am invited for dinner.
This is Domu Antiga, as the name implies, an ancient house that has been completely renovated and which simply calling bed&breakfast would not do it justice. The place maintains some historical features intact and preserves an important past of traditions that are re-proposed in the form of authentic foods and experiences such as traditional cooking, bread-making and cheese-making courses.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Giulia is also the owner of the beautiful structure where I sleep tonight, Mario Cesare, the little house that once belonged to the painter. In the silence of the night I think back to the story of this character told me by Giulia.
Mario Cesare was born in 1925 in France to Sardinian parents who decide to return to Sardinia when Mario is 5 years old. A few years later his father died and the family’s economic conditions did not allow him to have an education and develop his precocious artistic instinct.
However, he will spend his life painting and drawing. I was able to admire some of his works at the church of Santa Barbara, but here in his old house, resting on an old wooden chest, I find the collection Mario Cesare’s Poems and Drawings curated by the artist himself and by his friends Luigi Olianas and Maria Rosaria Mannoni .
As I leaf through the pages, I pause on the beautiful black and white drawings, minimal strokes that also contain scenes of village life and glimpses of the Gergei, and then on the poems, full of emotional charge, of which I want to report this:
All this and then die
Elbow to pass
meddle to know
strength to overwhelm
chutzpah to get.
Ambition to arrive
pride for wanting
power not to submit
envy for wanting
cunning to deceive
passion to enjoy
to love and then to flee
flattery to charm
to dress up for pleasure
all this and then die.
I go to bed in the same room where this character used to lie down. I think back to what Giulia told me. Mario lived here without running water and electricity. He was the weirdo of the village. He had no family of his own, only two brothers who died before him. It seems he had loved all his life a woman who did not reciprocated, and that when she left Mario stopped painting forever, in 1985, devoting himself only to writing.
On his death in 2012, at the age of 87, Mario bequeathed the house to the postman of the village. Thanks to the fact that Giulia then acquired this property to keep the memory of this character alive, tonight I fall asleep protected by the spirit of the old owner.