Today is a special day. The first municipality on an island in the island. Carloforte, on the island of San Pietro. I get on my bike early in the morning but only to make the little road that leads me to board the ferry at Portovesme. It’s a beautiful day and I cannot wait to get there to get around the island by bike. I board, I tie the bike in the garage and I go to the deck, outdoors, there is no one else, all inside in the warmth, while I want to enjoy the cool and the view.
Carloforte slowly approaches until the houses of the village begin to stand out. I land on the seafront road and immediately Tonio greets me, a friend advised by Claudia from Portovesme (by now word of mouth has become a key element of this trip.) Tonio offers me a coffee and gives me a book on the history of Carloforte so I can get an idea of the history of this island. Already at the bar I realize (as it has already happened in Arborea) to be in a non-Sardinian place. The accent of Carloforte is unmistakable, the Tabarchino, incomprehensible to me, as the Ligurian from which it comes from.
Leaving the bar Tonio shows me the monument to the sovereign Carlo Emanuele III, without an arm, and tells me that the arm was cut off because when Carloforte was about to be invaded by the French, the people buried the statue to preserve it but an arm protruded from the ground, and in the hurry to hide it it was cut off. The statue then remained that way.
I check-in at Il Ghiro bnb, on the main square, Tonio leaves me, and I ride by bike in the narrow alleys of the center, tidy and clean, before deciding to take a ride around the island. I go into a shop to buy a picnic lunch, and go! “Today I’m all day alone” I think. The day is beautiful and I want to enjoy this island in solitude.
I start towards the stretch of coast of the beaches, but past the old salt marshes I change my mind as I have already been in some of those beaches and decide to head towards the lighthouse, on the other side of the island. I cycle for about ten kilometers, climbing and passing by volcanic rocks that change continuously. This island is an open book of volcanology! I get to the top, with some houses scattered, then I begin a slow descent, first inside a pine forest, then in an almost lunar landscape.
I arrive at Cala Fico, and the almost white wall of rocks stands out against the sea, with the waves crashing producing a disturbing roar. I stop to look and listen for a while, in solitude. A solitude that does not last long.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
I’m on my own in Cala Fico. Returning to the bike I see a guy sitting on a rock, and another who catches up with him. I greet them when I pass them by. One of them is a tour guide, the other a tourist. They are both called Lorenzo (one less name to remember!) They tell me that they are starting the green path inside the wildlife oasis of Lipu, and then I join them. Lorenzo 1 (the guide) knows the path stone by stone, and tells us about the species of birds that live here, important raptors such as the Queen’s Hawk, buzzards, kestrels and many other species. Then he shows us some types of plants, few, that can live in this hostile, almost deserted environment. The landscape and the sea view are fantastic, the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below is very strong, and we pass between stones completely eroded and washed away from the weathering elements, until we return to the main road. The two Lorenzi go to the lighthouse to eat, not far from here. I reach them by bike. The view from here is even more incredible, broad, with the expanse of blue sea in front and the volcanic cliffs at the sides. Lorenzo 1 takes us down an old mining path used to bring the material to the small boarding area below. A narrow gorge that ends in a small creek. Lorenzo 2 is young, lives in Arezzo and is on a solitary holiday. The father is from Quartu Sant’Elena and he is very fond of Sardinia. Arrived at the bottom we sit on the rocks and eat our sandwiches, chatting to the sound of the waves breaking violently a few meters from us. Lorenzo 1 creates a sculpture of stones, one on top of the other, but that defy gravity and balance by resting on the corners, impressive. We go back up the steep path and leave each other at the lighthouse parking lot, giving us an appointment for the evening. We will gather together in a pizzeria, telling stories of life, Lorenzo 1, 46 years like me, tells experienced stories, travel and work around the world, Lorenzo 2, 23 (?), tells cool stories about girls left and of girls met. I’m going to sleep happy to have been in company, postponing the day of complete solitude to better days (or worse …)