Today I play safe. No trip. I have been here since last night, finally comfortable at my parents’ house, after a day of well-deserved rest. There is only one week left to travel and this break is recharging me to enjoy the final sprint.
Appointment at 10am with Davide, a friend and colleague of studies in the double bass course at the Conservatoire of Cagliari, who lives here in Soleminis from the age of 13, but born in Cagliari and lived in Sicily and then in Nuoro before landing in this happy small village a stone’s throw from Cagliari, a story similar to mine, except that Davide is now specializing in medicine and the double bass rests in his room, waiting one day to be taken back to serious practice!
We start the bike ride going out of the village in the direction of Monte Arrubiu. I am familiar with these hills, almost mountains, having studied them all in detail for my graduation thesis in geology, and then I used to come often, both by bike and on foot, whenever I wanted to be enjoy the quiet observing the view. After the asphalt we enter the area of the park, a country road, until we reach a building and the Madonnina. Being Sunday there are a few people walking around and passing bikers, probably unaware of my project. We climb further on foot pushing our bikes to a water deposit, from which we can enjoy a spectacular view, and the village of Soleminis looks tiny below us.
We go down fast, bumping across some little dogs, luckily harmless, and we return to the parish church of San Giacomo, where the Sunday mass is in progress. This was the first nucleus of the town, and inside the church there are precious paintings and a wooden crucifix that I plan to see on another occasion. Soleminis is also one of the centers where the Way of Santu Jacu, the Sardinian Santiago, passes.
We go out from the village again, in the direction of Sa Cavana, a place where there are some scattered house, including that known as the “mysterious place”, where in the past concerts and cultural events were organised, and where several records by Sardinian artists were recorded. From here we can also admire the hill of Cuccuru ‘e Cresia, where there are archaeological remains, maybe even here there is a hidden Barumini site, “larger than the original” (an omnipresent saying by locals for every hill from the Marmilla area down to here!)
We skirt the vineyards of the Pili estates, producers of good local wine, and go up a country road that in the last stretch becomes very steep we arrive at the rural church of Sant’Isidoro, another high point from which we see the village. Continuing along we arrive at the top of a hill from which the view finally extends to Cagliari and its territory, including the Sella del Diavolo, my goal finally in sight!
We return to the village just before lunch, along the railway line for a while and arrive right at the small train station, the one that once from Cagliari and now from Monserrato reaches Mandas and Isili, the route traveled by the English writer D.H. Lawrence who described the experience in his book Sea and Sardinia.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
I go to say hello to my parent’s neighbors, Lucio and Clelia, to greet them after a long time, and also to ask for contacts in the village that can tell me some stories. Lucio puts me in touch with his cousin Alberto, who together with his wife Paola started the Charity Elisa Deiana, in memory of their daughter who died in a car accident at just 20 years old.
Just on the other side of the hill of Cuccuru ‘e Cresia, on the edge of the village, there is a beautiful structure, the Casa di Elisa, where I go to meet the Deianas, who welcome me and tell me this beautiful story born out of a tragedy. Alberto tells me that one day after Elisa’s death, leafing through all the daughter’s papers, they found a paper from when Elisa was only 8 years old saying: “Reflection: I have everything, but I want to have a house where people without home can be hosted, because I believe that I am doing little for them. I don’t want a big swimming pool, but I’d like to always help people “(original text).
Elisa’s organs were donated immediately after death, and her liver was used for the first ever liver transplant in Sardinia. Hence the idea of honouring her memory with a Charity dedicated to helping the transplant recipients and their families. At the beginning with the sale of small objects, and then with the Gift Aid donations, slowly Alberto and Paola manage to put the first foundation stone of this structure in 2011, and finally to open it in 2018, managing to host in the first year more than 700 people, free of charge, and without accepting any type of offer. They proudly show me one of the rooms (the only one free), the kitchen, the washing room, and the outdoor garden with a nice secular olive tree … the “first transplanted of the structure” adds Alberto of the olive tree once belonged to his grandfather and brought here from that land.
I tell Alberto of my trip, and of having actually seen in many commercial activities all over Sardinia the cardboard columns with the face of Elisa, for the fund-raising of the Charity. Alberto tells me that every March, he driving and Paola as a navigator, they get in the car to reach all the towns and villages of Sardinia, for the delivery of the cardboard columns (which at this moment some volunteers are packing in a room of the Casa di Elisa). They have visited them all, 377, several times … for the love and memory of their daughter.