Not even two kilometers uphill separate Gergei from Escolca, where I arrive easily, welcomed by the Deputy Mayor Sabrina and the councilor Barbara.
Once left bike and luggage at the b&b Il Giardino di Valentina, where the owner Ignazia shows me her park of e-bikes, we set off to visit the village and some of her characteristic places.
Sabrina tells me some facts about Escolca. This is part of the Città dell’olio (City of oil) circuit. The processing of olives to produce oil is in fact very important, as is the production of bread and pasta with Senatore Cappelli wheat. These two productions are the basis of the Oil and Bread Festival (Sa dia de s’ollu e su liori) which takes place here in May.
The Sa Mola oil mill owned by the brothers Andrea and Alessandro Cadoni is in full swing when I go there later in the evening to take a look at the production, which has been going on for four generations. The cars and vans are lined up to unload the olives that will be transformed into oil. Others are lined up to pick up. Inside, machinery, olives that go in, oil that comes out and an intense and pleasant scent. In addition, a part of the building is set up as an ethnographic room, with traditional objects and tools, especially the oil sector.
Meanwhile, we continue the walk, skirting the sports facilities and a public garden embellished by the works of Mariano Corda, an artist from Villasor. The “Feras”, strange animal creatures, were created together with the children of the village using only recycled material. Like the works of Pinuccio Sciola or the murals of Pina Monne, these sculptures also welcomed me in various towns in Sardinia.
On the outskirts of the village there is also the Ort’e cagnu equipped area, in the shade of tall holm oaks, with wooden tables and benches and a nice fireplace for the inevitable snack!
We first arrive at Sa Domo de is Pillatus, an old renovated house where an ethnographic museum has been set up, and then at the parish church of Santa Cecilia, in Catalan Gothic style, with a sober façade in light stone and a beautiful cuspidated bell tower.
While outside the village is the country church of Nostra Signora delle Grazie, probably built at the end of the fifteenth century, together with the convent of the Romitani di Sant’Agostino which no longer exists today.
And also outside the village, is the hamlet of San Simone, an administrative island between the municipalities of Gergei, Villanovafranca, Mandas and Gesico. This ancient village, also called Is Nuraxis because it was built among the ruins of Nuragic towers, consists of about thirty houses built with straw and mud, with a small church dedicated to San Simone in the center.
Legend has it that in the seventeenth century the villagers were exterminated by a plague epidemic and that the survivors, rejected by both Villanovafranca and Mandas, were finally welcomed in Escolca, to whom they donated the village land. However, a dispute arose with the inhabitants of Mandas who claimed ownership of those territories. The answer was left to the saint. Once loaded on an ox cart, this was left free to go, and spontaneously headed towards Escolca where it stopped. Since then the procession, which takes place in time of Pentecost, starts from San Simone and arrives in Escolca, not forgetting to pass through Mandas too, in memory of the peaceful resolution of the diatribe.
And the photographic exhibition In Viaggio is dedicated to San Simone, set up at Casa Seu, an ancient house donated to the Municipality and renovated to house historical archives, exhibitions and events. Ivo Pirisi‘s photographs adorn the walls, and also the floor in the attic, making this setting of an ancient world now lost magical.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Ivo Pirisi, 46, biologist, as well as being a photographer is the founder of Tasting Sardinia.
Mainly active between Trexenta and Sarcidano (but not only), Tasting Sardinia designs personalised food and wine tours to satisfy the interests, passions and curiosity of customers in Sardinia. The itineraries combine unique elements of history, culture, entertainment and traditional Sardinian food.
You can choose places, activities and experiences to include in the tour, which results in an extraordinary journey, a completely new experience away from the routes of mass tourism.
On the tours you meet the locals; you can participate in the preparation and tasting of traditional and genuine foods; visit local wineries and olive groves; explore the incredibly ancient Sardinian heritage sites; stroll through lively markets and even interact with wise and friendly centenarians who will share their secrets to longevity. “Imagine it and we will build it for you”. This is the mission of Tasting Sardinia.