49/377: Arborea



Finally, today I cycle more kilometres than usual. I follow a country road, with Monte Arci on the left, and then rejoin the provincial road that from Santa Giusta leads to Arborea. Unfortunately, I did not know the traffic of this stretch was so bad, otherwise I would not have gone this way: trucks in the two directions that drive so close and fast that in some cases I have to pull on the roadside. Fortunately, immediately after the junction for the port, the heavy traffic decreases and I can enjoy the journey a bit more. I pass the pond of S’Ena Arrubia, then the Sassu dewatering system with a futurist-fascist architecture, and I arrive at the bike path that runs parallel to the road and enters Arborea. Finally a little attention to cyclists!


For the first time since the journey began, I have the feeling of not being in Sardinia. Arborea was created during the fascist era, and called Mussolinia di Sardegna. The roads are a network in the north-south and east-west directions, called with numbers and directions (5th east, 7th west etc) just like in New York. The main square, which overlooks the town hall, the church, the schools, the Locanda del Gallo Bianco and other buildings, has a typical early twentieth century architecture, very sober and rational, designed by the architect Carlo Avanzini. All around, the houses have a ‘northern Italy’ feel, many people ride by bike, along the canals, and as soon as I enter the café the accent of the old people sitting is Veneto!


I meet Mayor Manuela, unfortunately shaken by a bad motorcycle accident happened the night before in the town center, where a boy of 19 years was seriously injured . Despite everything, Manuela takes me around the village to see some architecture, the elegant buildings, the Casa del Fascio, and then the Museum of Reclamation, where I learn the history of this area, once completely marshy and unhealthy, entirely drained at the beginning of the century with a monumental work. After a good lunch at the Locanda del Gallo Bianco, with Vice Mayor Davide too, Manuela leaves us to run to the hospital in Cagliari, where they are trying to save the life of the young boy.


I am left in the good hands of Ermanno, a nature guide who takes me around the territory of Arborea, under a typically British sky, grey with insistent rainfall. Driving in the cross-linked roads of the reclamation area we run into many towers of sighting of the second world war, some preserved very well.


We stop at the pond of S’Ena Arrubia, where I can see many species of birds thanks to Ermanno’s binoculars, who guides me to their recognition. Then Ermanno brings me to see a farm where we use a robot for milking cows, who are placidly in line waiting for their turn.


After driving through the beautiful coastal pine forest, we arrive at the archaeological site of the sacred well of Orri, unfortunately almost completely submerged in water and covered with vegetation. However, the shape and the important dimensions can be seen. It gets dark, we go back under a pouring rain passing through Marceddì, in Terralba territory, along the sea and the ponds, in a spectral landscape.



Inspired by a fatal day.




Andrea, 19, did not make it. In the evening, when me and Ermanno return to Arborea to take a drink at the bar, the news of the death of the young motorcyclist is on everyone’s lips. With a Venetian accent, the gentlemen try to reconstruct the dynamics of the terrible accident where Andrea lost two limbs. The person who immediately gave him first aid said Andrea was conscious and talking, but not aware of having lost an arm and a leg. The limb ends were promptly tied to avoid too much blood loss. Then the rush to the hospital of Oristano. And the helicopter transfer to Cagliari. The car involved carried a lady, who everyone tries to identify, certainly upset. And away with the faults, the too much speed, the darkness, distraction. It does not matter now. Andrea is gone. There is a devastated community left. The mayor on the front line. I reflect on my project. On the fact that in more than 377 days I will have to deal with situations of this kind. My project intercepts the beautiful and the ugly, is intertwined with the course of other’s lives, for better or for worse. I dedicate a musical thought to Andrea.

PS a few days later I receive this text from Mayor Manuela “Hello Sebastiano. We will have a chance to chat in a more peaceful time in front of a coffee. I’m sorry for everything. I apologize for the things I could do more. My heart is broken like my community’s. Have a good trip.”

Good trip to you too, Andrea.