• Unesco by bike

Su Nuraxi in Barumini

The Sardinian hinterland journey: a trip into another world and another time. Among masks, mysteries, nuraghe and a wild and beautiful nature.

Su Nuraxi in Barumini
THE SARDINIA' SCENT

From the campsite of Porto Taverna, fifteen kilometers from Olbia, we move inland, surrounded by the new and strong scent of Sardinian vegetation, already heated by the morning sun. The horizons follow each other, overlapping, made opaque by the mist; the mountains seem enormous shortcuts pastry’s expanses, where the green of the shrubs is mixed with countless boulders, piled on the slopes.

We realize how it is impossible to reach with the imagination the fantasy of nature, so creative, so unpredictable: imagination trivializes, nature is an artist of infinite resources.
Along the road we find some remains of ancient Nuragic civilizations, so distant in time, so different to make us experience this remote past as belonging to another reality. Not a different stage of history, but almost another world.

Between Bitti and Nuoro we arrive at the Costiolu farm camp, in the middle of nowhere, between oak and cork forests. In the evening we cannot refuse to dine in the farm with cheese appetizers, lamb, ham and huge dishes of ravioli and traditional porceddu (suckling pork); finally we taste some ‘pecorino’ cheese. After dinner we have no more room in the stomach, not even for a grain of rice.

We continue the evening with Antonio, the farm owner, talking about the farm, cork trees, summer fires, the birds that accompany the night with their song, followed by the cicadas. We conclude the meal with a shot of grappa and myrtle.
Outside the farm, under the sky full of stars, we feel very small, and, embraced by this mantle of light, we talk about big themes. Reality confirm to be much more unpredictable than imagination.

THE SARDINIA' SCENT
CYCLING ON THE GENNARGENTU MOUNTAIN

The next day, after spending the day at the camp, at 5 pm we leave towards Barumini. From Nuoro we go up the mountain, passing through some rare villages.

Running away from the chasing of a wild dog, I’m in Mamoiada, the Mediterranean mask’s town. It seemed like passing through the doors of an unknown world, where elderly women still wear traditional black clothes and the light, colors and looks carry me in a dream, almost a hallucination. I keep going on the road until I get to a thousand meters of altitude, in Fonni, the painted town. The landscape is very different from the one already seen in the peninsula, it seems incredible to be in Italy.

I keep on climbing, up to the slopes of Gennargentu, the highest mountain in Sardinia. On my way I have to do the slalom among the sheeps, later I pass by a pig walking on the roadside, then I have to avoid the cows, and on a railway viaduct passes a herd accompanied by the pastor.

The time and the kilometers go by, and we realize that the road is longer than we expected: not 80 km but 130. While I go down fast towards the valley, the light fades more and more, up to the darkness. Reunited with the Van Mac flagship in the village of Laconi, twenty kilometers to the finish line, we continue for the last part with the camper’s headlights and the constant crackle of its engine, supported by the moon in a sky covered with stars.

At 10,30 pm we arrive in Barumini, hosted at the service center, where the guardian helps us to fix the camper, we are finally here. Tomorrow we will see the Nuraghe.

CYCLING ON THE GENNARGENTU MOUNTAIN
SU NURAXI, NURAGIC ARCHAEOLOGY IN BARUMINI

At 10 am it’s already 40 degrees. A few hundred meters from the camper we reach the Nuraghe of Barumini, where we meet Lorena, our guide. We enter in the site area and we dive back in time by at least 3500 years.

The Barumini’s Archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, in the early 1950s started to get interested in the hills that surrounded his hometown. The old ones called that area Marmilla for the typical breast shape of the hills that surround the country. Removing some materials from one of these huge bumps, Lilliu made an unprecedented discovery: Su Nuraxi. Thus began a slow excavation work to bring to light one of the most intact Nuragic civilization evidence. The project was completed in 1957 and today, thanks to that intense recovery work, you can appreciate the whole complex, which dates back to about 3500 years ago.

The Nuragic village, that came to accommodate about 150-200 people, was developed around the central fortress, consisting of a three floors tower surrounded by four bastions.
The mystery resonates within the narrow and dark passages that connect the towers, placed between thick walls built with huge blocks of basalt. These were dragged here from the plateau of the Giara which is located 10 kilometers away.

No written documents have been found, so we do not know much of the Nuragic civilization; it’s supposed that they had contacts with the Mycenaeans, the Egyptians and the Etruscans. The structure of society, beliefs, customs and history, are therefore hypotheses, and much is still left to imagination.

We only know that at a certain moment of history Su Nuraxi collapsed, perhaps because of enemy invasion or natural disasters.

In the whole island there are traces of this ancient civilization, that arisen, lived and mysteriously died in the middle of the Mediterranean.

 

We leave at dawn to complete the cycling connection between Olbia and Cagliari, the last 63 kilometers. The softer and softer hills are with me until I am on a plain, surrounded only by mountains in the distance. The kilometers pass quickly, town after town, until I reach the city and the sea.

Just south of Cagliari the campsite is waiting us, a few meters from the sea, where we will spend a few days of vacation, waiting for the ferry to Sicily. In the afternoon we enjoy the cool, crystal waters; in my head the whole trip remixes, episodes come to my mind and the experience begins to be part of the past, and not only of a tumultuous present.

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SU NURAXI, NURAGIC ARCHAEOLOGY IN BARUMINI
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