Every day, early in the morning, my usually so very quiet Cagliarian neighborhood Genneruxi is brutally disturbed by a noisy beast. Midst the sound of awakening birds, roaring and howling approaches in the distance, turns corners, passes other streets and finally appears below my house. Several nights I got out of bed, trying to trap the thing on photo in the light of late sodium-vapor lamps and early rising sun. Only once a year, just after Labor Day, the three come together and when I am finally ready to catch my prey, around the corner appears a disappointing miserable little creature, as the operators of the large garbage truck are still sleeping-off their holiday hangover. Fortunately I have that earlier sound recording.
This weekend I remained hidden in the house dreaming of far away places and thinking of leaving for long voyages, maybe even taking the boat at Cagliari port sunrise. Remembering sitting on a bench watching the ships come and go, I contemplate following in the wake of the Romans that conquered the port of ‘Caralis’ from the Carthaginians and exported wheat, salt, lead, copper and silver from the island of Sardinia to the ever hungry continent. The port of ‘Callari’ once was the maritime center of the western world until the discovery of the Indies and Americas and then remained an important hub for the Mediterranean with more than 5000 ships passing annually, transporting over half a million containers. Somehow, I and my meager possessions might have to fit into that traffic going sometime somewhere elsewhere .
The historic Castle quarter of Cagliari (‘Castéddu ‘e susu’), situated on a 100 m high limestone hill, protects the powers by its massive walls and clamps its citizens into living along high and narrow (3D pano) alleys. The fortifications were build in the 13th century by the ‘Pisani’ and in the 14th century conquered by the ‘Aragonesi’ that forbade any Sardinian to live within the quarter and when found present after sunset was thrown over the steep walls into the dark depth below. During the 18th century, the ‘Piemonti’ took over and only when the ‘Nobili’ left in the 19th century for better living in the new Marina quarter, arrived the large families of poor that nowadays have to make room again for the modern wealthy, re-entering the freshly renovated ‘Palazzi’, and should they have to leave soon, then let’s hope through the gates and not over the walls, this time.
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.
Major Sardinian transport ways meet at Piazza Giacomo Matteotti (1885 – 1924), the central city Cagliari cross roads. Standing near the bust for the national hero, ‘a Verdi 1919’ it reads, so may it be the composer honoring the leader of the socialist party and strong opponent of Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945), who was murdered with a carpenter’s file in 1924, a year before Italian fascists grabbed power and installed dictatorship in Italy; you turn around clockwise and see the port, the bus station, the railway station, the Catalan-Gothic town hall with Liberty style decorations (Palazzo Civico, 1907), the avenue of largo Carlo Felice (King of Sardinia, 1821 – 1831) and the boulevard of via Roma (1883). Continue reading
The San Sepolcro Church was seat of the Archconfraternity of Death and Prayer (mortis et orationis) founded in Rome (1536). Around it were once scattered clods of dirt originating from Christ’s burial ground Golgotha or Mount Calvary and since then the surroundings served to bury the poor, the abandoned and those sentenced to death. The barrel-shaped small church was build on top of a Paleo-Christian baptismal font dating back to the fourth century and the site of worship was probably even older as witnessed by some artefacts from the first and second century. Continue reading
Half of the time I work at home, but at early Tuesday mornings the cleaning lady throws me outside and then I start my day on Monte Urpinu Summit. This is the highest of the seven hills of Cagliari at 98 m above sea level. The highest point at this beautiful sight is actually the tip of the index finger of Saint Francis of which a bronze statue was placed in 1984. In ancient times Monte Urpini’s pine forest was poorly accessible and the home of foxes and wolves. Nowadays it is a green lung. Continue reading