I start traveling with a nice day. I cycle along a stretch of the Sulcitana 195 road, unfortunately I have no choice, but after a few miles I can enter the coast road parallel to it, which runs right next to the sea. We are in Santa Margherita di Pula. I pass the beach and the Spanish tower of Cala D’Ostia and another pair of beaches until I rejoin the state road where the church of Santa Margherita stands. From here I continue to Is Molas, an inner residential place towards the mountains, where I will be a guest of Adriano and Carla Giulia.
After lunch we drive to visit the village. I know Pula very well already. I worked there often, as a bookseller and as a musician. In the summer, this place turns into a popular and crowded holiday resort while in winter it remains much quieter. The day is ruined and it’s drizzling, and the village is quite deserted. The central square, with the famous stage of summer concerts, is empty and wet, and in the bars that overlook only a few people under the tents. We walk along the central street, with the shops that swarm with tourists in summer, and the ice cream shops, all closed. And we arrive up to the square of the church of San Giovanni.
In the car we head to Nora, one of my favorite places, so much so that I also dedicated a song to it. The road enters the peninsula and reaches the square with the lagoons on one side and the sea of the bay on the other. On this beach is the church of Sant’Efisio, a place of martyrdom and culmination of the famous procession that sees the statue of the saint arriving from Cagliari brought on foot by the devote people after a few days of walking.
From here one can enjoy the view of the whole bay, with the tower at the top of the promontory, and the archaeological area on its right. Given the rain we renounce to go the remains of the important Phoenician city (and then Punic and Roman) that I have visited several times. In addition to the archaeological interest in this place, which at night takes on something magical, in summer important theater and music performances take place in the small Roman theater, in particular La Notte dei Poeti and Nora Jazz festivals.
We drive towards Su Guventeddu, a stretch of coastline that always overlooks the bay, with a beautiful beach, and then we return to the town center. It stopped raining and Adriano took me to a place visible from all the surroundings, a spike of high volcanic rock called Su Casteddu, on which we climb, with a little effort. When we get to the top, the 360 degree view is magnificent. All the coast on one side, from Santa Margherita to Sarroch, the Island of San Macario, the mountains on the other, and the plain of Pula in the middle, crossed by the Rio Pula, river that in times of heavy rain can turn from stream harmless almost dry to real river in full power.
It’s time to come back. In fact, tonight we have a concert at S’Incontru, a bar restaurant on the central square, and we take the opportunity to rehearse the repertoire, consisting of jazz standards. Together with me, Adriano Sarais on the trumpet and Carla Giulia Striano singing, Andrea Schirru on piano and Francesco Oppes on drums. The evening is great, the audience is warm and appreciates the music, played with so much energy by these young Sardinian jazz musicians who show great talent and passion. It’s the first time I’ve had a whole evening of jazz with the double bass after many months, and all in all I’m not so rusty!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Last summer I was on holiday in Sardinia for quite some time. More than a holiday it was a period of planning this project, in which I also did some experiments, visiting different locations in Sardinia to try to live the experience as if I were already inside the project. Among the various destinations one was Pula, where I have been to see two concerts for the Nora Jazz festival. During the final evening of the festival, in the central square, I spent some time with Sam Sollai, a friend and one of the organisers of the festival, and the band that would play later, the American singer Joanna Tethers accompanied by musicians of various backgrounds , Italy, China and the United States.
I watch the concert on one side of the stage. A person approaches me and we start talking about this and that. When he discovers that I play the double bass and that I live in England he tells me: ‘Oh, what a coincidence, there is a good Sardinian double bass player who lives in Birmingham’. I’m amazed and I think ‘heck, how can I not know him?’. I immediately ask him this player is. The answer: ‘he’s called Sebastiano Dessanay.’