The Sards were invaded so many times – by Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Angevins, Arabs, Spanish, French, German, Brits, it is understandable they retreated to the hills and mountains in the centre of the island and there were quite a few operations which would be termed ‘insurgencies’ in modern parlance.
The indigenous Sards thought it was fair game to grab what they could from any invaders they encountered. But they became known as “bandits”. We met a large family of bandits who entertained us to a grand pranza collation and sang ancient ballads for us.
I think that an astute Sardinian politician secured a grant from Brussels to preserve the culture and history of artisan skills and traditional life in the smaller towns of Sardinia. The grant pays for a premises (an old village house is appropriate) and for collecting lots of dusty old things like sticks of granny’s furniture, bedspreads, rugs, looms, kitchen utensils, yard tools etc and the money is released if the council certifies that a number of local people get employment from the project, so a few locals are paid for attending.
The whole thing is then called a Museo Etnografico or a Museo Arkeologico and we have visited several – all the same. They all have the various glazed breads – everyday crisp bread keeps for ages; Easter bread shaped like stars and big celebration bread shaped like crabs and crayfish.
The residents of any Sardinian village in the mountains could not understand those in the next village due to dialectical challenges.
They paint the trunks of the cork trees with dark red solution after they slice off the cork bark to make bottle stoppers and floor tiles.
These Relais du Silence are very exclusive; in fact we were almost completely excluded. But we met a distinctive young French couple. Casimir designs bonds to fuse gamma particles together, but makes his livelihood as goal keeper for PSG (Paris St Germain if you don’t know French football). Donatella teaches singing to the choir of the Academie Nationale and works as a part-time commodity trader. She mainly deals on the world olive exchange, but does some trading in Sardinian coral futures. She had the sweetest little pooch that she carried in her jewelled shoulder bag, it had a collar with diamante & rhinestones & sequins and went by the name of Galbani Garibaldi Gramsci or “Balthassar” for short.
Casimir & Donatella had booked a double room, but only with single occupancy and they refused to pay the supplement for doubles – approx. 200 Euros. Well it ended badly, because this was a Relai du Silence, and they did not observe the silence. In fact voices were raised on both sides of the reception desk. Paris was invoked and the clarity of the protagonistts’ spoken French was challenged. The honour of France was impugned.
The pool sparkled in the morning sun, and we suddenly noticed that floating in the middle of it was a Chihuahua. The Chihuahua was deceased. Its twinkly collar was smeared with tomato ketchup. You can’t call the carabinieri for a dead Chihuahua, can you?