1968 was a year of great changes and revolutions all over the world: it may seem strange but it was the same for the small farming town of San Sperate, about 20 km from Cagliari.
Impossible? Read on to believe what I’m saying!
San Sperate is one of the most productive farming centres in Sardinia: an immense garden of orchards surrounds the town. The production of citrus and peaches is very famous, since 1960 a festival has been held in mid-July, with shows and artisan exhibitions. The festival is the perfect opportunity to savour the typical dishes and take a walk through the streets of the town, sprinkled with mint and fragrant flowers, observing the balconies and doors decorated with sheets or tapestries.
How do you go from a typically agricultural village to a museum village? Thanks to the intuition of a former farmer artist: Pinuccio Sciola.
After several trips, Sciola returned to San Sperate in 1968: feeling a distance, a gap to fill between him and his fellow villagers and decided to involve them artistically by painting the walls of the houses white so that they could draw on them freely. From that moment on, despite moments of discussion and controversy, the artistic growth has never stopped and today boasts about 320 murals scattered throughout the country … Wherever you arrive, it’s impossible not to spot at least one! The centre is a proper laboratory where artists from all over the world still participate today.
Sciola was a very important contemporary artist: his sculptures have travelled the world. What is special about them? They play, they emit melodies. By working with basalt and limestone, Pinuccio Sciola has created works similar to menhirs or Neolithic monoliths, engraved with parallel cuts: by gently passing a hand or a stone they create sounds.
However, we must not think that the sounds emitted by the stones are all the same! Depending on the engravings, the stone’s density or material, the acoustic effect can be reminiscent of instruments made of wood, metal or even the human voice.
Where to see (and above all touch) these wonders? At the Sound Garden, Pinuccio Sciola’s laboratory and an open-air museum inside the museum village. A magical and almost mystical place that takes you back in time and manages to increase respect for nature and the wonders it can perform.
In San Sperate art is all-around: not only painting and sculpture but also literature and theatre. Shortly after the peach festival, the San Giovanni district (the oldest) is transformed into a real theatre thanks to the organisation of the Cuncambias (exchange) popular culture festival: on this occasion, until a few years ago, it was possible to hear the oldest actor and poet in the world perform: tziu Giuliu Podda, who died in 2019 at the age of 106!
Music, images, words… not bad for a small village of peasants!