I’m held in Uras for most of the morning and I leave late. The wind is really strong, mistral, and I have it to the side, so strong that I have to be careful not to be pushed in the opposite lane. The Monte Arcuentu, the ‘profile of Napoleon’ is visible in the distance.
I get to San Nicolò d’Arcidano, the sign in Sardinian says Arcidanu, as many peopleI heard mentioning its name these days. I head to Leo’s house, a cyclist with whom other cyclists have put me in touch. Leo will host me for the day. It’s already lunch time. Leo has prepared some pasta, we eat and go out immediately for a wonder in the village before it gets dark. And despite the strong wind and the occasional English drizzle we go by bicycle, I borrow one of Leo’s bikes.
First stop is the central square, very well kept, with beautiful murals, a historic building in basaltic stone and iron sculptures. Not far it’s the church of San Nicolò bishop, with the crib set up in the square and some beautiful buildings on the sides. We continue along the streets of the center, with beautiful stone paving, and arrive at another square where a small outdoor ethnographic museum has been set up under a beautiful canopy. Tools of the various country crafts, a plow, a cart, jugs, baskets, a press, a millstone. Continuing the tour we see other murals, very nice, some around the small fountains of the country set between walls of houses.
Leo then decides to take me in the countryside, despite the strong wind and rain. We leave the village and cycle along the Flumini Mannu, full of water, passing over the so-called ‘submerged’ bridge because it tends to be completely invaded by water and disappears during the floods of the river. The lands around use to be very fertile and rich in vineyards. This is why Arcidano is called the country of Bovale, a type of wine produced here. Unfortunately, the vines have decreased considerably and the production of this wine also. We reach a point where the road stops, completely submerged in water. The fields around it form a lake, because of the rains of this autumn, and the clayey soil forms a sort of impermeable cap that has not allowed the water to be absorbed for months.
Back in town we are greeted by the Town Hall administration for a greeting, and then we head to the headquarters of the association Auser, of which Leo is part, for an evening based on pizza, wine, desserts and lots of music sung by members of the association , Leo in the lead, accompanied by his son Massimo on the guitar and by me on the bass ukulele.
Inspired by Leo’s energy and vitality.
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Oloferne, called Leo, 70, lives alone. Ten years ago he lost his wife, but now he has a partner who lives near Cagliari. His children are grown up now. He takes the opportunity to enjoy his free time. Above all by riding a bicycle. As the stories of his exploits are revealed to me, I am amazed at the energy of this seventy year old!
Already during the day today I realised that strong winds and rain have not in the least discouraged him from taking me around the village by bike. He talks to me about the Cammino di Santa Barbara, an itinerary that has been created recently in the Iglesiente, more than 400 kilometers through nature and mining areas. He tells me he would like to do it by bike sooner or later.
I have my doubts, but Leo shows me the bike that his sons have given him for his 70th birthday, and I understand that he’s not joking. Leo tells me he had done a part of the Camino de Santiago a few years ago by bike and proudly shows me the certificate of completion. Then he brings me a plate. The tour of the four hills. 242 km by bike, departure from Mandas through the four highest peaks of the Gennargentu and return to Mandas. Then when he tells me that he went from Marseilles to Lourdes by bike for a vote to the Madonna, I start to feel like an amateur of the bike.
In the evening I hear and see Leo singing for hours, with an enthusiasm that scares me, I understand that in front of the difficulties of life and ageing you can always react with the enthusiasm and strength of a child. Leo, when you decide to do the Cammino di Santa Barbara give me a call, you never know …