“Don’t worry, it’s all flat!”. But actually, from Orroli to Siurgus Donigala there is a bit of descent to the bottom of a river valley and then all uphill! I am passing from Sarcidano to Trexenta. Some don’t understand my path. They ask me why I’m going to that village and not to that other. But everything was properly planned.
I am slowly going south to be close to Cagliari, because I will soon have the last interruption of my journey to go to England to play. Then I will go up north even if my final destination is Cagliari. But in the end the red thread of my itinerary will show a more interesting line!
I arrive in Siurgus Donigala and I settle at the b & b Lago Mulargia where the owners Marco and Irene are waiting for me, happy to host me and support the project. I immediately go to the elementary school where the Mayor Antonello is waiting for me. By now my school presentation is consolidated, and children are always intrigued by this modern adventurer.
Antonello tells me about the origin of this municipality with a double name, formed by the agglomeration of Siurgus in the upper part and that of Donigala in the lower part, initially two different centres then merged in 1927. After a colossal and delicious lunch offered by the mayor we have a tour to see some interesting spots of the village.
The first stop is Su Nuraxi, yet another urban nuraghe (I no longer remember in which place they told me “here we have the only nuraghe within a town”) surrounded by a small garden. We then go to the church of San Teodoro in Siurgus. This was originally its parish church, with a sober Aragonese Gothic façade, but the church is built on a previous Byzantine structure and therefore faces east.
I go back to the b & b where the owner Marco is waiting for me to take me for a drive out of town. We go to what gave the name to Marco’s b & b, at Lake Mulargia. The day is gray, the evening proceeds towards its last hours and once we arrive on the banks, a stone’s throw from the water, the atmosphere is ghostly.
At one time a Mississippi-style boat was moored on the shores of the lake, taking tourists around the lake, to discover its rocky shores and lush with vegetation. Unfortunately the boat has not been in operation for some time. The reasons … usual disputes between entrepreneurs and administrators I think.
Lake Mulargia is created by the dam of the Rio Mulargia with the Monte Su Rei dam. Although the lake is really close to Flumendosa and Lake Basso Flumendosa, the two basins are separated by the Orroli hills. And somehow here I am also thinking of the very small hamlet of Bortigali, Mulargia precisely, very far from here.
We drive along the Costa Longa and admire the incredible panorama over this wild territory, halfway between mountains and hills. Back in the village Marco takes me to see the second parish church, the church of Santa Maria di Montserrat, originally the parish church of Donigala. This too is a Gothic style church probably built on a pre-existing Byzantine building. The church, on a hill, dominates all the surrounding space and overlooks a valley. Here every September, an event that attracts pilgrims from all over the island takes place, the procession “de is cerus” in honour of the Madonna. Ancient votive candles (cerus), one of which two and a half meters high, are carried on the shoulders of the young people of the village, accompanied by launeddas players.
We return to the b&b passing by the Casa del Pane, an old renovated house in the historic center with a beautiful courtyard, and then skirting the deconsecrated church of San Francesco, which was used first as Monte Granatico, then as a cash desk for the Credito Agrario and now Banco di Sardegna.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
In the evening, the mayor Antonello takes me to the middle school, where the children have the hours of music. And here I meet two old acquaintances from the Conservatory days, the pianist Michele Brandinu and the drummer Sergio Mattana who teach here. I watch some moments of lessons with children, a little intimidated by the presence of this bearded man who listens to them, then I manage to chat with everyone.
I am reminded that there are two talented Siurgus Donigala musicians that I have known since the Conservatory, the composer Christian Cassinelli and his sister Roberta, clarinetist. Both are children of Felice Cassinelli, himself a composer and clarinetist, originally from Mandas but married to a woman from Siurgus Donigala.
In addition to being a teacher of Music Education, Felice writes instrumental and vocal music. Among his works, a Mass in Sardinian language entitled Nostra Sennora de Montserrat stands out. He is the director of several choirs including the local “La Corale”, a female only choir.
Since 1998, the La Corale association has been organising the “Gavino Gabriel” National Music Competition reserved for children from Primary Schools, Traditional and Musical First Grade Secondary Schools, Civic Schools and School Projects.
Doing a bit of online research on the Cassinelli surname (genealogy continues to haunt me!) I come across Aristo Cassinelli, an Emilian oboist born in 1871, one of the greatest oboists of the time and a virtuoso of the highest level.
In 1890 he was at the Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona, then at the Royal Theater of Bukarest, he played in the Toscanini orchestra, he was the oboe in concerts at the Cristal Palace in London, in Nice, at the Teatro alla Scala, in 4 seasons of concerts in Stockholm, in Aix Les Bains. From 1905 he returned to teaching in Parma where he remained until his death. His Six Studies for Oboe are still widely used.
I wonder whether there’s a connection between him and the Cassinellis from Siurgus Donigala. I will investigate further.