Pardon my confidence but I hope you also understand that calling yourself Countess Anne-Henriette-Sidonie de Bigault de Parfonrut would make everything a little more complicated. I don’t even know if you’d still like to hear yourself called the title of Countess. They say that “their” earthly values no longer matter and I don’t mind the idea. I hope neither for you. I will limit myself to my usual Tu but with a capital “t” in the form of respect. I owe it to you for more than one reason.
This year I missed the welcome of your beautiful CASA RODRIGUEZ very much, just as I missed my guest who guards with deep love and pride what was your home for a very long time.
The first time I crossed the threshold, the current hostess welcomed me and the other traveling companions by giving us a book about your extraordinary land. That book had a beautiful title that suggested a sense of continuity over time: “We passed the earth light”. The author Sergio Atzeni, your most worthy fellow countryman, had left this world too early, unfortunately, at only 43 years old.
That first trip was all about telling and explaining our guest to us laymen, while she accompanied us everywhere, presenting her Sulcis Iglesiente and beyond. Rocks, caves, janas, ziqqurat, pinnitte, sacred sources, trees, wind, stories and legends, sacred and profane, peoples of sea and land, popular and culinary traditions, personal memories … It was only 2% of what we could learn about your land in eight days and our host knew it well.
That first of four trips, after having dreamed for thirty years of returning to Sardinia with someone who belonged to that land and could bring me a little closer to its true essence, I experienced it as a prize; as a constant storytelling rich in history and of human events of ancient customs unimaginable and sometimes incomprehensible to me, simple “continental”.
The next three trips were further prizes I don’t know for what merits, but I can only thank my host for giving them to me.
In the past I had been a guest twice on the northern coast. I made excursions to Spargi and Budelli, admired the sunrise over the sea from the top of Capo d’Orso with no tourists around to ruin the charm and the photos. I visited the Grotto di Nettuno in Capo Caccia, photographed the rocks shaped by the erosion of the wind (besides the bear, the elephant on a roadside is unforgettable), Then discovered for the first time the barked cork oak trees in Tempio Pausania, visited the remains of a large nuraghe of which I had only basic notions and took baths in what I considered from Rimini from birth, now exasperated by her own, a real sea finally blue and transparent. However…
But I knew that I didn’t understand Sardinia, that I didn’t know anything about its ancient peoples, its magic, its unexpected and surprising landscape variations. Only a native person could have told me about them but it took thirty years before the right one happened to me. A tough and true vigorous woman, a generous soul who, due to her rough and good-natured, straightforward and honest ways, reminded me of those of certain Romagna`s blood that flows in my veins and to which I am used to. Marina Tozzo, our guest. The one who had become the current owner of Casa Rodriguez. Virtually perfect, dear Sidonie. I like to think that you would be happy, indeed, that you have been so for a long time.
For four years, alternating the crossing of the Tyrrhenian Sea by flight or by sea, the trips with Marina to the south, sometimes from Olbia, sometimes from the luxuriant Nuorese Barbagie, rich in waters as few continental people know, our itineraries always ended at Casa Rodriguez, in your beautiful Iglesias, making me, a stranger, feel “at home” too.
As I said at the beginning, dear Sidonie, this year I missed the welcome from Casa Rodriguez. In recent months, sadly characterized by a forced enclosure that has brought together many of us mortals, I have cured myself by drawing on some memories and some dreams patiently waiting to come true.
Among the memories, that of the swallows chirping over our heads when, in the garden, we enjoyed the last light of the day before dinner, relaxing the body and the mind after the intense days of almost tireless travellers. The swaying sound of the willow, in my beautiful Bologna, for which I haven’t heard from for decades. Or that of wandering within the walls of the house, in its wide spaces between past and present, between echoes of stable and fleeting souls. Or that of the pleasure of carrying out a ritual every time you return after a year of absence saying, with respect and gratitude, “Hello, Casa Rodriguez! Hello, Sidonie! ”.
As for the dreams still to be realized, here is served: return to carry out that greeting ritual before entering and add, to the many cultural and musical events that have taken place over the years among the beautiful frescoed rooms and outdoors, even the sound of my voice, of my song, repaying the welcome with a little of my soul.
Goodbye, Casa Rodriguez.
Goodbye and thank you, Marina.