I didn’t realize that to go from Villamassargia to Gonnesa I had only two options, and both of them were passing through a few busy state or provincial roads. So I decided to follow the advice of some bikers and to cut from the inside passing by the mines of Barega. I draw the itinerary and I understand that I will have to be careful not to get lost. Fortunately, Gigi, a cyclist from Gonnesa who will host me, decides to come to meet me (it will be my salvation!)
I leave early enough to take the time to travel twenty kilometers of which some off road, and the temperature is always very low. I travel on a stretch of 4 lanes road, overtaken by several mean motorists, and finally I enter the country road that goes to the mines. I see them in the distance at the foot of a mountain, with all the abandoned structures. I get to the space in front of the mines where Gigi awaits me … and not only … a nice climb of 13%, the steepest I made so far, I think. Fortunately all with tarmac. I take this opportunity to leave the bags on Gigi’s car and … GO!
Arrived at the top, the view is exceptional despite the day is a bit cloudy, the entire plain that goes to Carbonia, Mount Sirai and the islands of Sant’Antioco and San Pietro. We pass an abandoned village, very suggestive, and then begins the descent through the woods, all dirt.
Arrived in town, we take a tour, the main road that winds through the old town, through which passes the St Barbara Way (now a faithful companion of these stages!) We see the church of Santa Barbara, the square in front of the beautiful building of the City, and then we stop for lunch.
In the afternoon Gigi takes me by car to see the territory around the village. Going towards the coast we stop at the site of the Seruci Nuraghe, immense. Like in many other sites, there is still a lot to dig and discover! In the fields opposite the oaks are bent towards the south-east, due to the strong mistral that beats this stretch of coast. We descend to the Marina di Gonnesa and Porto Paglia, a former tonnara, now well converted into private accommodation.
We then head inland. First we go up to the mines of Seddas Moddizzis, around which stood the Asproni Village, now completely abandoned. The place is huge and evocative, elegant buildings of the direction, houses for the workers, the church and other buildings. We walk through the streets in silence, a ghost village. Back in the car we drive to Sa Macchina Beccia, a huge ‘cathedral in the desert’, also called the Castle for its huge structure. It was the well of extraction of the San Giorgio mine with a steam engine attached. We end the tour at the top of Monte San Giovanni. We are more than 500 meters high and, shaken by a beating and icy mistral, we enjoy the view, the plain of Carbonia and the Gulf of Palmas on one side and the mines of Monteponi, Iglesias, and the Marganai on the other.
I end the evening working in a nice spot that I found in the center of Gonnesa, the Storytelling bookstore and tearoom, a quiet and creative space, where the owner Eleonora serves me a good black tea with biscuits, among the many selections of herbal teas present.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Two families. Family one: Luigia and Alberto, who own a pharmacy on the main street, invite me for lunch. They have followed my project from the beginning, and make me feel at home. There are two of the three children, Letizia who still goes to high school, plays volleyball and would like to enroll in economics, and Leonardo who after trying a bit of pharmacy at uni has decided to jump into the cinema and is studying film at the DAMS of Bologna. And then the third that is not here today, Lorenzo, lives in Switzerland and studies physics. There is an electric piano in the house, I play it before lunch, then I see a guitar and I play that too. And we talk about my project, and then about the projects of the young guys, who seem to have already started towards promising paths.
Family two: Gigi and Marika, they host me for dinner and sleep. And they put a washing machine on for me! With them the children Simone and Silvia, maybe 6 and 10 (I forgot!) who before dinner show off their talents. Simone prepares a beautiful drawing, adding details from time to time, until it becomes a surrealist painting. Silvia does gymnastics, wheels, splits, and showing off a good knowledge of English (which I test without trying to simplify.) She too produces a drawing, more sophisticated than that of her little brother. And then it’s up to me to play the ukulele and enchant everyone.
I hope these two families bring a good memory of my passage in Gonnesa, and above all to be an example to the new generations: if you have a dream in the drawer, work to achieve it, no matter how absurd or difficult it is, JUST GO FOR IT !