The climb from Olzai to Ollolai is hard. I prepared myself psychologically. I start. I climb. I cross a flock of sheep on the road, I pass in silence and the dogs only notice me when the sheep start running, but I’ve now passed through quick without danger. I cycle fast uphill anyway.
Gigi , who has already escorted me from Orani to Sarule, joins me. We ride together. Two cyclists pass us and greet us. After 10 minutes they come back “Hey, you are the one who is going around Sardinia by bike ?!” “Well yes”. Still rising. Then rain. It’s cold. We are at 1000 meters above sea level. Still rising. Tough. Then finally Ollolai.
The Town Hall is closed. We go into a bar. Hot herbal tea with the Councilor for Culture. Then Gigi brings me at some friends’. In front of the fireplace-oven three ladies make carasau bread. One prepares the cakes and puts them on the shovel, which is operated by another lady, who bakes and churns out, passing everything to a third lady who separates the two halves of the flat bread.
Trip to the church of San Basilio: set in a natural amphitheater of huge granite stones, some poised on precarious spikes, with the most imaginative shapes, with even routes for climbing. Woods all around. And breathtaking views (not today, unfortunately it rains).
Art. In private homes and in the craft store. The traditional costume of Ollolai represented with threads by a local artist, Annalisa Daga. Beautiful and contemporary works.
The day ends with a visit to the Planetarium … in Ollolai… a Planetarium? Yes!! Work of an enthusiast astronomer (on the way to San Basilio there is also an astronomical observatory).
SARDINIAN SHORT STORIES
Today I am guests of Mario, who I haven’t seen from the times at Uni, his wife Maddalena, and the kids Marta and Giovanni.
Marta, 9 years old, does not remember my name and asks for it, and from that moment on it will be a continuous ‘Sebastià!’ here ‘Sebastià!’ there. ‘Sebastià, I’ll ask you some riddles’ and away with reading from the book of riddles ‘what do bees on the moon? The honeymoon! “And dozens of others like it. Then we move on to jokes. A dozen, all of them in a row. Before dinner and during. After dinner, instead, she asks me if I can show her the ukulele. So I pull it out and let her play the strings a bit, but she just wants to play it properly with the belt on! Then Marta’s brother, Giovanni, a little older, tells me that there is a guitar in the house but that no one can play it. They bring it to me. With some pliers to tune it, since many tuning pegs are broken. After tuning it at my best, I start playing it. The two children look at me and listen in silence, then Giovanni pulls out a small book from the case ‘here are all the notes’ he tells me. So I have him take the guitar and I say ‘well try to play a C (actually it is a C major chord, but there is no need to say it for now). Giovanni starts to put his fingers in position, making some mistakes, while Marta looks in silence. After some attempts, the chord resonates well. I say to him “Bravo!” And Marta ‘To me, to me now !!’. So the guitar is passed to Marta, who also tries the chord and manages to play it after a few attempts. And then another pair of chords each. Until the ‘Sebastià! Sebastià!’ diminishes and vanishes into sleep.
The next morning Giovanni leaves early with his father for the football match. Marta is still half asleep. When I leave, she barely greets me. ‘Excuse me but I speak little in the morning’ she responds when her mother urges to greet me. When I go away I tell her ‘Next time I come back to see you, you’ll ply me all the notes (but I mean the chords) on the guitar!’
I wonder if a musical appearance as fast as mine can be enough to instill a germ of musical passion. I always hope so.