Today’s journey takes place exclusively on a long cycle path that joins Decimomannu to Assemini, flanked by a pedestrian path on which there is a lot of traffic of people and runners. I am getting closer and closer to Cagliari, and I start to feel the influence of the big city, in the form of traffic in the streets, architecture and human presence.
I arrive at the Town hall asking for directions, and here Flora and Michela, who will host me for the day, are waiting for me, along with Mayor Sabrina and Councilor Rachel. We take a brief visit to the municipal building that contains both indoor and outdoor ceramic work done by children. Assemini is indeed a pottery village and today I will savor its essence.
The first stage is in fact at the workshop of Walter Usai and father Elvio. The showcase contains some very beautiful pieces, colored, with a contemporary style, but the most interesting part is the inside of the shop where Elvio is modeling the clay on the lathe. I am asked to try, and with a little effort and error, I can model two strange shapes, which will then be cooked and colored to give it to me later.
The second stage is by Francesco Farci, a ceramist artist. In his shop he shows us a whole series of beautiful and very original works, visionary, sometimes surreal. His arks of Noah impress me, boats of various shapes with ceramic animals on top. Together with Francesco we go to the Pilot Center, where there is a permanent exhibition of ceramics of all the major potters of Assemini, and also national ceramists. Here too, I am struck by the hall with Francesco’s works, jugs made of female figures, Noah’s arches, minimalist human figures. It is here that Francesco takes an ark from the exhibition and gives it to me as a present!
Before lunch we go to visit the two churches in the center of the village, the Parrochiale of San Pietro and the beautiful Byzantine church of San Giovanni, whose stone interior has been left original, without ornaments, statues (except that of San Giovanni!), furnishings or paintings. This area is what remains of the historic center of Assemini, some old Campiadanese houses and the elegant old buildings that the Municipality would like to acquire to restructure and make usable.
We get lunch at Flora’s, together with her daughter Elisa. I was prepared a very good spelled soup (Flora, alias Violetta, is following me since the beginning, maybe she is reading my blog and knows my food needs …) and then the panadine, typical of Assemini, well represented by a mural by Pils on a country wall. After lunch, Flora and I go for a walk to the lagoon of Santa Gilla. We cross the bridge that crosses the two rivers Flumini Mannu and Cixerri, which run parallel here, and almost losing ourselves between narrow and poorly paved roads we reach the beginning of the salt flats of Contivecchi. On one side the view on Cagliari, very close, but that I will not reach until December, on the other side a white mountain of salt and salt production plants.
The evening continues with an event held in the library, the presentation of the book Janàsa by Claudia Zedda. I was also invited to present my project and therefore my story is intertwined with that of Claudia and the characters in her book. The meeting is well conducted by Flora. Her questions bring out the essence of Claudia’s writing and her relationship with Sardinia.
We conclude the evening with a pizza in the company of Flora and Michela, respective husbands and their respective daughters. The adults on one side, the little girls on the other, who are talking and writing notes. I go back with Michela to her beautiful bnb Martina (daughter’s name) where I fall asleep deeply!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
Elisa, 10 years old, shows me a guitar that the neighbors were throwing away and that Flora saved from destruction. I ask her to play but she tells me that she cannot play anything, so I let her take it and patiently I teach her two chords, the G and the D, adjusting the little fingers in the right position. Then Elisa tells me that she also plays the recorder and so she plays a tune taken from the Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with a beautiful sound, solid and expressive, and also using altered notes (sharps and flats), not easy!
At lunchtime Elisa tells me that her favorite music is that from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals. So I tell her that the principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where I was teaching, is Julian, Andrew’s brother. Elisa is visibly impressed! After dinner, when we leave the pizzeria, Elisa gives me a slip with the words “Do not open before being in England”. That moment is so far away, that I return to the Michela’s bnb and I don’t resist, I open the ticket. It is the request to deliver a message, written in perfect English, for Andrew Lloyd Webber (no worries Elisa, I will keep the secret!) through his brother Julian. This is a mission! I will try to do everything possible to deliver the message Elisa … but who knows if I will ever return to England!