I leave from Villa San Pietro and go in the direction of Perd’e Sali by cutting the highway 195 in order to avoid traffic. I take what is called ‘su gattu aresti’, the wild cat, a road that runs along the coast climbing in the middle of rocky hills. Here somewhere there is the nuraghe Sa Domu and s’Orcu (same name as that of Domusnovas) but I do not have time to venture in the vegetation. As soon as I get to the top, the industrial landscape of the Saras oil refinery complex stands out in front of me, an unavoidable panorama with which we must get used to in this area. I start the descent with a bit of bends and it start to drizzle just when I enter the village. Luckily it looks like a passing spray.
I arrive at the Town Hall where Marcella the librarian is waiting for me. She has organised a very full day. We are greeted by the Mayor Salvatore and councillor Massimiliano. After the compulsory coffee, we head to visit the villa Siotto. The entrance gate is right on one side of the square. On the uphill driveway we find ourselves in front of those that were the buildings where the workers of the farm lived. On this square in the summer there are often cultural events and important concerts. Behind this square is the villa, a magnificent building at the base of a rocky hill and surrounded by a huge park. The interior of the villa has plenty of rooms, a beautiful stairwell leading to two further floors. One of the rooms is the City Council Hall. I also find a piano that I can play for a while.
We go out to the main square where the church of Santa Vittoria faces. It’s time to go and talk to the middle school children. Even today (like yesterday in Villa San Pietro) I meet teachers I know: Filippo, geologist and double bass player like me, and Sebastiano, who besides the name, he has in common with me the Dessanay blood…he’s my first cousin! As usual, the experience with children is always beautiful, the questions are more or less always the same, where I sleep, what do I do in case of puncture, which football team I cheer, why I came up with this idea, and I answer with the same enthusiasm of the first day.
Lunch time has arrived. We head to the Massimiliano’s Agriturismo Su Lilloni. The road exits from Sarroch and heads towards the rocky mountains, entering a valley and skirting a river that we cross four times before arriving at the place. We have trespassed in the territory of Villa San Pietro. Here the complex is beautiful, stone and wood, juniper trees, a pinneto where ‘su callu’ is being smoked, the rennet contained in the stomachs of lambs hanging from a wooden plate. Lunch is ‘fast’ according to Massimiliano, all local and genuine food, and we leave full and satisfied!
In the afternoon we go to visit the Diapason music school of Simone, Roberto and Giovanni. The structure is very nice, with study rooms and a well-equipped recording room with adjoining live room. Here I play the ukulele supported by the rhythm and the voice of some of the small pupils of the school. They also tell me about the SRK radio they just created to spread local music.
New race. This time at the library for the presentation of the project interviewed by the journalist Ivan. There are a few people, I tell the story, I play the ukulele, I answer the questions. I start being tired. Simone is coming to pick me up for the night. We go and pick up my double bass at Villa San Pietro, we come back, we have dinner with a nice minestrone cooked by Simone’s wife, Giorgina, expressly requested by me, and we head to Happy Days Bar for the last part of this endless day! I’m joined by the faithful Alessandro Garau on drums and Giorgio Murtas on guitar for an evening of instrumental jazz, that the owner Fabio particularly appreciates, the first time that a double bass treads the scenes of this bar! We go back to sleep late and I collapse exhausted … the longest day of the tour!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Simone Scalas, 47, a friend for at least 20 years, will host me tonight at his home in Perd’e Sali. He was one of the first people I talked about this project, and it did not take long to convince him to become a part of it. Simone loves Sardinia, for years he has worked in the cycling tourism sector in the Mediterranean, organizing tours of the islands and not only, first with the Sardinia Gran Tour and now with Mediterras. It is he who brought Richard Branson and a large group of Virgin around the island for the first leg of a tour that ended up climbing the summit of Mont Blanc (it is known that Branson loves risky adventures!). His mind is open and he dreams to revive the fortunes and the economy of this land.
So, talking to him about the 377 project was simple. Simone was passionate, every time we talked about it I saw the emotion in his eyes, and finally this summer, when I decided to realise the idea, Simone was a fundamental support. Evenings spent to discuss the itinerary (it is his idea to start from the Nuorese, from my origins, and then take a counterclockwise round), to talk about possible dangers, such as defending themselves from the shepherd dogs, technical aspects related to the bicycle , and what are the three main causes of falls of a cyclist: look at the sides or talk to others, remove their hands from the handlebars, be too close to other cyclists or cars.
It is he who convinced me not to carry a sleeping bag and a tent because ‘you will find hospitality everywhere, I am sure of it!’ And so it is happening. The week before the departure hectic, and Simone, with a beautiful little girl of a few months, Vittoria, dedicated time and attention to me, instructing me on all the details about cycling, giving me his multitool (actually lost in a bet!) and introducing me to the friends of the Ciclofficina Sella del Diavolo of Cagliari to do a free bike repair course. Simone supports me on the web, spreading my appeals for hospitality search. He came from Cagliari to Lollove (Nuoro) alone to attend the inaugural concert of the project (I do not know how he managed to return the same night, after all the wine he drank!) He organised the concert at S’Incontru in Pula and today at Happy Days, with great enthusiasm … and I’m sure that from now to the end of my ride he will still take the opportunity to help me and join me again!