The storm has calmed down. I leave with the sun, I cross the old Roman bridge of Sant’Antioco and I enter the beautiful bike path that crosses the isthmus that connects the island to the mainland. The track ends in a reed field as soon as I enter the territory of San Giovanni Suergiu, so I go back to the road and continue to Tratalias. I explain to those who ask me why Tratalias before San Giovanni Suergiu that the route is planned, if possible, without going twice on the same road.
I travel two long straight roads and arrive at the village but I do not see anyone and no signs. I remember that Tratalias has an old part that was abandoned and I understand I’m right here. So I continue and soon after I find the new village. Mayor Marco and councilors Mauro and Patrizia welcome me in the Town Hall. They will guide me throughout the day. We start by going back to the old part of the village. They tell me about the dam that was built to block the river, and that created a series of problems of infiltration in the houses of the old village such that it was decided to build a new village not far from there, where the entire population moved.
Although many houses no longer exist, most of this old part has been restored, and walking in the old streets between the old houses with a Spanish style gives a sense of back in time. This whole area revolves around the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa Maria di Monserrato, which was also a bishop’s headquarter. It was built by the Pisans but then taken by the Spaniards. The statue of the saint was then transferred to Iglesias, as it was also done with Sant’Antioco, but unlike the latter who returned to its place of origin, Santa Maria remains in Iglesias and every year is brought here in procession only for a few days, then it is returned to Iglesias.
In this old part there is a beautiful building containing a photographic exhibition of the old village, as well as a reconstruction of the old Town Hall now gone. Passing through a beautiful portal in Spanish style you enter a large court. I’m told that here was shot part of the film ‘The end is known’ by Cristina Comencini, and that the area is still required as a set for video and advertising (a bit as it happens in San Salvatore of Cabras).
After having had lunch at the big farm of Marco’s family, in the afternoon we go to see the dam of Monte Pranu, the responsible for the creation of the new village. The lake is very large, we walk along a bank, colonized by prickly pears. We arrive almost to the barrier. Returning back we arrive on the other side of the dam, just below the wall, from which a lot of water is discharged, due to the incessant rains of this year. Here also a beautiful cycle path passes along the old railway, part of the Santa Barbara Way.
We conclude the evening in a nuragic archaeological site, still to be digged. From here you can see the mountains around, Mount Sirimagus (on which the old men told the children not to go because they would have been taken by the devils.) And finally Marco takes me to the other side of the lake, where a landing place for seaplanes has been realized, an activity that will hopefully catch on soon.
And the new village? Well, it’s new, the houses are all big and well kept, and there’s a lot of public green, flower beds everywhere, which Marco tells me, they require a lot of work!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Despite the transfer to the new village, in the heads of the inhabitants of Tratalias there is still the old village, its plan, its houses. The Mayor Marco tells me to dream of still being the old village. When we walk through its streets he recognizes the houses left one by one, this belonged to ‘Mr X’, this other one belonged to ‘Mrs Y’. He can also locate houses that are no longer there. Mauro also knows all of them, those left and those gone. Here was this, here was that. Even in the new village people talk of the old village. I was living there, I was born in that street etc. The thing that is most lacking now is ‘su biginau’, the neighborhood. In the old village the houses were close, the streets formed real gathering points for families. Today, however (it will be the fault of the dividing flowerbeds?) the houses are more distant from each other and a sense of community has been lost. Something was done to bring the two centers together was the construction of a sports center halfway. And the old Tratalias continues to be a destination for tourists and film sets. May someday be it reborn from its ashes?