Italian little Italies: Sadali, in the wild Barbagia
- WTI Magazine #134 Dec 17, 2020
Sadali is located in the Barbagia di Seulo at about 750 meters above sea level, on the edge of the homonymous plateau. The region, mostly mountainous, is defined "island within an island" for the peculiarity of its landscapes that draw a world apart, wild and alienating. In the village, narrow cobbled streets overlooked by ancient houses, suddenly leave room for wide views of the valley.
Before reaching the heart of Sadali you will find Casa Podda, the only surviving example of a manor house at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Open to the public, the house has large rooms on three levels, decorated with arabesques and floral motifs of late baroque taste, large spaces for servants, fine furnishings. Mirror of the importance of the Podda family in the Sadali of the nineteenth century, the house was inhabited until the middle of the last century, when it ceased to be the hub of the local economy.
The historical center develops around the ancient parish church of San Valentino, patron saint of Sadali. The church has passed through four distinct periods, from the Romanesque to the modern period. Not far from the church is the waterfall of San Valentino, whose waters come from numerous sources. It is characterized by the fact of being right in the center of the inhabited area and to have next to it a seventeenth-century water mill, used for over two hundred years for the grinding of wheat and today visitable. Following the path of the water, we reach the lowest point of the historical center, in the place called Mesu Idda, where there is a natural abyss, Sa Ucca Manna, "the big mouth", which collects the waters of the different springs. Unlike the surrounding villages, which have completely lost the traditional architectural forms, the old town of Sadali has been preserved because at the beginning of the twentieth century the population moved en masse to a higher area of the territory, abandoning the village as it was: with its exposed stone facades and traditional paving.
The first plant of the church of San Valentino dates back to the 5th and 6th centuries. The last restoration works in 1996 brought to light a Roman kiln used for firing bricks, completely intact inside. Of the second plant, fourteenth century, remain the large ogival door and the pointed arches of the interior. It is of the sixties the last remodeling, with the addition of the bell tower. Of the six side chapels the most interesting is that of the Assunta, wanted by Salvatore Locci at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The old water mill, fed by the waterfall of San Valentino, is the only one recovered among the eight mills that were present in the historical center. They were all built in the second half of the seventeenth century for want of a nobleman, the Regent Locci, and to carry out the hard work until then touched to the donkeys.
S'aili is the area of the sheepfold destined to the accommodation of the kids: according to the legend the village was founded by a shepherd, a goat keeper, in Mesu Idda, where he would have settled with his flock. It is more likely that the name derives from the Phoenician Sad - El, with the meaning of "great fortress".
Local products and dishes
Is Foghidonis, the event that officially opens the Carnival, is a journey between ancestral rites. Warm up the night of Sadali the fires lit in honor of St. Anthony and St. Sebastian, accompanied by itinerant performances of theater, music and dance. And as per Barbarian tradition, the traditional mask of the Urtzos makes its first appearance on this occasion.
Is culurgionis, one of the typical dishes of Barbagia, is celebrated every first Sunday of August with a festival. It is a kind of ravioli with a heart of potatoes, mint, garlic and fresh pecorino cheese. The half-moon shape is due to the closing of the edges with fingers.
Sadali is the only town in Sardinia to have as its patron saint Valentine's Day, celebrated not on February 14th but on October 6th, in the most prosperous season for crops according to local agro-pastoral habits. With the rite of scuttulai on santu, "shake the saint", singles rely on Valentine's Day to find love.