Today’s route is more or less all uphill, but nothing compared to the one that goes up to Villasalto! By now my eyes are getting used to the sight of these mountains and valleys. I cycle calmly and I enjoy the route.
I arrive in the village and while I’m busy admiring a beautiful mural in the outer wall of the library, I miss the Town Hall on the other side so I continue uphill to a square that I recognize because many years ago I played right here with the band Crïduscià. After asking directions to the elderly sitting on the benches, I go back to the lower part of the village.
The Mayor Marino is waiting for me in the Town Hall. I will spend most of the day with him. Together with the councilor Giuseppe, we head to the library to greet Nicoletta, the librarian I met in Villasalto and who had taken care of my hospitality there. Nicoletta shows me around the library, very well stocked, also with audiovisual materials, and I discover that the mural out here is by Giorgio Casu (it seemed familiar to me!), an artist I met in my stop in San Gavino Monreale.
After a coffee, Marino and Giuseppe take me by car to visit some surrounding areas. First stop the Castle of Sassai, of judicial age. The village of Sassai existed around it, but it disappeared around 1600. The ruins of the castle were covered with debris and vegetation and only in the 90s it was uncovered and renovated. The structure is very beautiful, inside several rooms, the kitchens with an oven, and the water tanks. From here the view is exceptional.
Driving in the opposite direction we go to see the famous radio telescope, on the border of four municipalities and in the territory of San Basilio, but much closer to Silius (maybe they will take me back in my day in San Basilio!) The structure is impressive, and was built by the National Institute of Astrophysics. It seems that here the magnetic radio conditions are perfect for the operation of this instrument, at the forefront of space scientific research.
Not far from here are the fluorite, barite and galena mines. They finished extracting minerals in 2009, but there are still several workers who are responsible for maintaining the site. Just as we are here, the Mayor is told that the water level in the tunnels is rising (perhaps because of the rains of this winter) and that they need to equip new pumps to prevent the tunnels being filled and made them forever impractical, in case one day the mining can resume.
We conclude the tour at Is Alineddus, a beautiful wood of alders, with a beautiful panoramic observation point. Among the picnic tables there is also a water spring, and I take this opportunity to drink some fresh water, before heading back to the village, where we lunch at the home of Marino’s family.
In the afternoon we take the opportunity to see the village. The streets of the center are very narrow, and I wonder how they all lead us in the middle. Many houses are still of stone, many old portals, you can breathe mountain air. We pass next to the church of San Sebastiano, rebuilt in a modern style, and then we head towards the Center for the elderly, where two meetings await me. The first is right with the elderly, to whom I tell of my adventure and I play something with the ukulele. In return the elders delight me with a song whose lyrics were written by their priest Don Gigi.
Immediately after, it is the turn of the youngsters of the Youth Council. Marino in fact wanted my project to be presented to these two groups, the first to have the story of a life experience certainly different from the one that most of them had, the second to give an example of resourcefulness, disciplined work and creativity that can be useful in their future. Among the boys there is an organettist and a guy who plays percussion. So we improvise for a while until the meeting ends naturally.
When Marino and his partner Alessandra take me to Margherita’s bnb I have almost reached the end of the energies, which I use to eat all the amazing food that Margherita has prepared for me, before continuing with my creative work (now almost always nocturnal) and collapse in bed.
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
I keep the promise made to Ugo, the man from Silius I met yesterday in San Nicolò Gerrei, and I go to visit his mother, tzia Bettina, 96 years old, together with Marino and Alessandra. We are welcomed by two of her sons, and ztia Bettina is in great shape, and she already knows of my visit. I explain to her that I am the nephew of the politician Bustianu Dessanay, who came here in the Gerrei to do his election campaigns, and she tells me that she remembers well, a very affectionate person, he had close friendship with her by now deceased husband Ionorco, and he came here to Silius at least twice a year, even in winter, and often by bus, to have lunch with them. His favorite food was broad beans and wholemeal bread! I leave with a some more memories about my grandfather and not being able to say hello with the famous Sardinian ‘to a hundred, I wish Tzia Bettina an even longer life!