The very center of the island of Sardinia is the wildest part where the old people went after newcomers took all that was more fertile, agreeable, closer to the Mediterranean Sea, and over there also the bandits at Orgòsolo took refuge. This village, named well before its first appearance in 1341 writing, after ‘Orgòsoa’, meaning damp in pre-Roman tongue, is found midst a 600 m high collection of granite peaks now and then hiding in clouds between century old oaks looking upon green grazed meadows, grayish in winter mist. Continue reading
The 13th century war between the families of the Pisani from Venice and the Visconti from Milan for the possession of the east coast of Sardinia was a catastrophe that forced the locals to leave their homes and move into the mountains, beginning the story of Gairo Ghost Town at 800 m above sea level. A new home, not far from sea, midst forests, a paradise of fertile land, and another catastrophe as continentals followed, cutting their woods for timber, like sleepers that went into Italian railways. Erosion set in to deliver the next catastrophes in 1880, 1927, 1940 and finally the mother of all alluvial floods happening in 1951. Continue reading
Thinking of Sardinia you may imagine lying on a hot beach along a clear turquoise sea, but hardly a Fonni snow world will spring to mind. After I moved to this Mediterranean island during a winter a decade ago, seeing evergreen trees everywhere, I wondered if I would miss the snow and ice from my home in the north. When I saw distant white on hills bordering the sea, it belonged to my imagination and had to be clouds as I, that funny Dutchman, was told so by the locals. For snow you had to be on the highest mountain peaks at more than 1000 m above sea level in the middle of the Island and the heart of winter. There lies the town of Fonni where you even may take a lift up so that you can ski down. When it became fairly cold these days, I regularly checked the weather forecast, finally bought a pair of snow chains and then drove in four hours from Cagliari to the north. There I enjoyed for the first time in my life what might well be the last Sardinian snow, at least for this year.
Great riches were made by the French with the mine in the narrow valley of Malfidano (bad trust) opening to the sea near little Paris at Buggerru. Miners worked in miserable poverty (video) while their zinc ore was shipped and luxury arrived for the patrons from abroad. Greed knew no bounds and a hot hour of rest was taken away during the middle of the day in September 1904. Two thousand fired-up miners gathered in front of the capitalist’s lair. First stones thrown were answered by bullets and petrified the memory of three deaths in the center of town. After twelve days, for the first time socialist laborers of Italy laid down their work in a general strike and seventy five years later the mine closed. Nowadays the town slowly empties while the port fills up with sand.