Last night I slept very little because of the wind. The noise against the windows was deafening. And this morning it’s still very strong. I leave Perdaxius and I stop to photograph the entry sign of the village which I missed yesterday. I enter a straight road flanked by tall eucalyptus trees, which oscillate frightfully over the road and my head. Once out of this tunnel, the next straight bit presents a much greater danger: the overtaking motorists, who do not care about my passage, especially those in the opposite direction. For an overtaking truck I also have to stop and jostle.
I arrive safe in Narcao. I head to the Town Hall where councillor Tommaso welcomes me. Soon after, I take a tour of the village, reaching a small square with a horse statue, surrounded by orange walls where musical-themed murals are painted. Narcao is in fact home to the important Narcao Blues festival, now in its twenty-ninth edition, and consolidated internationally. I stop in a bar to do some work and leave soon after, as they are waiting for me at the Rosas mines for noon.
I get back on the bike for these additional 8 kilometers that separate Narcao from the Rosas mining site. I pass through the hamlets of Rio Murtas and Terrubia and enter the road that goes up a narrow valley between the schists, flanked by a stream. The road climbs slowly, skirting rock walls with beautiful shapes. I overcome the clusters of sterile mineral deposits, some ruins and after a few more turns I arrive at the entrance to the mining village.
Today I am a guest of vice Mayor Andrea and his father Gianfranco, the main responsible for this site, recovered from abandonment at the end of the eighties and finally inaugurated in the 2000s. From the outside the whole structure is impressive. The buildings of the old mine were almost all recovered and used as accommodation facilities, a widespread hotel, with apartments in the old miners’ quarters, a restaurant, a bar, the beautiful reception hall and the mineralogical museum in the old storage depots. A stream flows channeled by a tunnel of stone and in the external walls of the buildings you can see beautiful murals, representing the miners in different contexts, from work in the gallery to moments of relaxation in the houses.
I head to the reception, where Lorella waits for me in the company of the two dogs, Pulce and Rosina, who will guide me through the three key places on the site. We start from the mineralogical museum, containing beautiful minerals coming mainly from Rosas, in particular the rosasite, a mineral discovered here, with a greenish color. Soon after we get into the car up to the entrance to the mine tunnel. We wear helmets and enter a small gate, followed by Pulce and Rosina who have reached us up here! The tunnels are low, all original, paths from the old rails, and one can only imagine what the job could be here. Returning to the reception I admire the (functioning!) machines of the storage warehouse, where the rock was ground to separate the good material from the waste.
My evening ends with a walk around the site, along the stream, until I get to a pond. Here passes the Santa Barbara path. I return to the apartment and take the opportunity to change the brakes on the bike, which have continued to give me some problems. There is no one in the village, all the guests left this morning, I feel privileged to be in such a magical place all alone. I take this opportunity to work and go to bed early!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Re-meetings 1. I’m about to take the climb to Rosas. A Carabinieri patrol overtakes me. The passenger lowers the window: ‘Are you 377?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Nice project, and so today is Narcao?’ So I explain everything to him and his colleague. They were advised by a colleague of theirs, Simone, my contact in Carbonia. A few hours later, as I am coming back from the walk on the Rosas site, I see a Carabinieri patrol back up the road. This time it is Simone with a colleague, in service. They stop to say hello and we chat about the wonder of this site and about the bad weather this year. I remember when in Barbagia the Carabinieri that I used to meet in the car looked at me in amazement, now I hope that the rumours of my project has spread throughout the whole of the Sardinia patrolling Carabinieri and from now on they will greet me as a mate!
Re-meetings 2. I leave the reception after the visit to the mining site facilities. There is a group of people. I hear a gentleman who speaks with a secure tone ‘this we did it this way, this we did it that way’. I approach him. ‘Are you Andrea’s dad?’ ‘Yes’ ‘I’m Sebastiano Dessanay, your guest today’. This is Gianfranco Tunis, the creator of this which is now a Unesco site. As we speak, one of those present looks at me. After a while I recognize him … it’s Lorenzo Ottelli, a geologist I had not seen since Uni! We speak about these past twenty years. Lorenzo tells me that together with his father, also a geologist and one of the creators of the Geomining Park of Sardinia, he recently produced a book ‘Little stories of men and mines of the past’, and promises to give me a copy. I cannot wait, now that I’m about to complete the stages in the mining areas (started at Guspini almost a month ago) this book will be a wonderful memory.