…Sardinia is an island of stone and on the island I learned that every element of nature is sacred and that stone is alive… (Pinuccio Sciola)
The story I am going to tell you today speaks about a lively Sardinia, full of cultural initiatives and innovative ideas; in fact, today we discover the art in San Sperate, between murals and sounding stones.
San Sperate is a town located in southern Sardinia, in the Campidano region, about twenty kilometers away from Cagliari. The town of San Sperate is famous throughout Sardinia: first, for its murals, which decorate buildings and homes, and for the "sounding stones" created by the artist Pinuccio Sciola! It is also famous for the production of delicious citrus and peaches. Despite being one of the most productive agricultural centers in Sardinia, in the city center, one can also find workshops for artistic ceramics, iron, leather and wood, and even workshops for the production of jewelry.
Crossing San Sperate on foot means walking in a village-museum, taking a dip in art: in fact, hundreds of murals decorate the city streets and tell stories, traditions, and facts inspired by the town's daily life. The art of murals was developed in San Sperate in the revolutionary years, around 1968, on the wave of the artistic current born in Orgosolo and on the initiative of the artist Pinuccio Sciola. He developed his plan to transform the country into a laboratory of artistic and cultural creation.
The history of San Sperate has its roots at the beginning of the Nuragic age, around the 18th century BCE. In fact, during an excavation, a model of a nuraghe was found in the town and is currently kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari. Also noteworthy are the Punic remains found in this area, with four necropolises, and the remains dating back to the Roman age: the road that connected Karalis (now Cagliari) to Tharros crossed here. The name of the town, San Sperate, derives from the relics of the martyr Speratus which were brought by some African bishops who emigrated to Sardinia. According to tradition, the Parish of San Sperate was built in this place.
On the creative wave of Pinuccio Sciola, many artists have passed from and still live in San Sperate: they have left their works here, and have transformed an agricultural village into a city of art, a cultural jewel not to be missed. The spectacular murals color the streets, and project visitors into another dimension, offering scenes of everyday life painted on the walls. The murals, in fact, not only have a decorative function but also tell simply and immediately the peasant and agricultural history, with their thousand shades.
The murals of San Sperate wind along a path that passes through via Decimo, via Vittorio Emanuele, via Arbaresi, and via San Giovanni. Another interesting point is Piazza Croce Santa. Today there are at least 400 murals in San Sperate, made with different techniques, at the discretion of the artist: from waterproof colors and graffiti to mixed techniques.
The garden of the sounding stones is an open-air museum. This place has been the workshop of the artist Pinuccio Sciola since the 1960s, and over the years, it has become a mix of nature and art, which then transformed into an exhibition space in the 2000s. In the garden, colors, scents, and sounds alternate.
Do not miss; the bright colors of the citrus fruits hanging from the branches, ready to be picked; the scents of orange and lemon blossoms that alternate in the seasons; the sounds of the stones sculpted by Pinuccio Sciola. The visit to this museum is thus summed up in an exciting walk inside the citrus grove, in a free path among the megaliths, with their shapes and their sounds. It is a place where you can breathe art and nature, which is expressed in a universal language, music—a path where basalt and limestone stones produce different, ancestral, and mystical sounds.
Pinuccio Sciola's artistic research began with stone processing, and over time the artist decided to make the stones more "alive" by practicing cuts and engravings. The rest of the work is done by the mistral wind, which almost always blows in Sardinia, and which, insinuating itself into the cuts of the stones, returns melodious sounds. During the visit to the museum, you can also try to feel stones, rub them with other stones, and listen to the sounds that this contact produces.
After experiencing the art in San Sperate, between murals and sounding stones, your mind will undoubtedly be richer. You will be leaving the place with a memory full of colors, after having seen the numerous murals in the streets, and full of sounds, after having listened to the sounding stones of Pinuccio Sciola. Rich in flavors, perhaps too, after having tasted the juicy peaches that grow and ripen in these places, especially in summer.
And, on your way back, you can always buy an excellent peach jam. Enjoy your visit!
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