353/377: Samassi


San Gemiliano church

I travel through the fields of Sanluri Stato, trying to join the state road for Samassi and instead I find myself muddy in dirt roads and marshes that the recent heavy rains have created. It takes me a while to find a way out and I finally take the main road!

Raw hearth house

Councilor Roberta welcomes me and guides me through this Campidano village which is part of the international association Città della Terra Cruda. Most of the buildings here still have the ladiri in sight. The house that houses the library, for example, is completely made of raw earth. It is really impressive to think how this material can stand the test of time and withstand an entire building.

Clay experiments during the artistic residencies of the MedInArt festival

During the MedInArt festival, events and artist residencies are held every year. This year the Shared Construction Site started for the recovery of the earth houses. One of these ancient houses is Casa Ghisu, where further artistic residences will take place.

Above the Central Bar, a mural by Crisa represents two fundamental elements of this municipality: artichokes and cinema. The former are part of one of the main agricultural productions of the area; the second is a reference to Cinema Italia, the only one still present in a village of this size!

Entrance to the parish church of the Blessed Virgin

The villages’s churches are beautiful: the small church of Santa Margherita reflects Greek-Byzantine influences; the medieval one in Romanesque style of San Gemiliano hides a Vandal tomb under the floor. Then there is the parish church of the Beata Vergine di Monserrato, with a sober facade and interesting decorative details, and an interior full of precious marble and a beautiful ancient organ.

Organ in the parish church of the Beata Vergine

Marina and Ignazio let me visit their house, Casa Pau, all in ladiri, with a large courtyard surrounded by a beautiful loggia and interiors that show off beautiful floors of the past.

Casa Pau

At the Soleluna wine bar, I have an aperitif with Walter of the Terra Cruda Association, who talks to me about the video “Abitare la terra” that I plan to watch, and Emanuele Contis, friend musician who is hosting me today, and who is part of that long line of musical talents that this village has churned out.

Raw earth wall at the Soleluna winebar






“Through a strict and competitive admission process, you distinguished yourself and were selected to participate in the BERKLEE MASTER’S PROGRAM. Congratulations!”. With these words the director of the Master in Music Composition for Cinema communicated to Emanuele Contis his admission to the prestigious Berklee College of Music, an iconic place, which gave birth to artists such as Pat Metheny, Quincy Jones, Keith Jarrett, Al Di Meola and many others.

Emanuele has a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cagliari but is known and appreciated throughout the island as a musician, composer and sound designer. He took the opportunity of a lifetime, attending the best private music university in the world, and today he is busy proving that Berklee College of Music’s trust has been well placed!

At the rehearsals of the Stanislao Silesu Music Band

Today Emanuele also organised a meeting for me with one of the most important bands in Sardinia: the Banda Musicale Lao Silesu. Stanislao “Lao” Silesu was an important European composer, born in Samassi and then lived in Paris where he distinguished himself for his songs brought all over the world by important singers such as Enrico Caruso and others.

Today the band named after Lao is directed by Ignazio Murtas who welcomes me to the rehearsals with enthusiasm, and makes me sit among the young and talented musicians to play part of their repertoire. At the end I tell about my project and I promise Ignazio that sooner or later I will write something for the band!

I must mention the flutist Simona Pittau, not only because I remember her as a teenager as a student at the Cagliari Conservatory, but because her talent and determination led her from the Silesu Music Band to one of the most important orchestras in the world, the Vienna Symphony “Wiener Symphoniker”. And as if that weren’t enough Simona and her family have set up the Tanca De Soli educational farm where they teach children, but also adults, about country life.