FROM ARZACHENA TO TEMPIO
by William Henry Smyth
John Murray, Albermarle-Street
Having occasion to go to Tempio, which, though upwards of twenty-five miles distant, was the nearest town to our anchorage; I landed at the beach bounding the plain of Liscia, and was forcibly struck with the solitary aspect of the scene.
These fine grounds are watered by a meandering stream, which, though nearly dry in August, is never actually so: it contains trout, perch, and eels, and its shallow parts swarm with tortoises. In their respective seasons there is also an abundance of partridges, quails, doves, beccafichi, and many other birds; especially the beautiful “apiolu,” or bee-eater, which works its nest in horizontal galleries, deep sunk into the banks of the river.
A few detached “stazzus,” or farm-houses, are scattered about the higher grounds; but from Liscia to Tempio, I saw very few dwellings, and scarcely any people, except some shepherds. The intervening space was either a waste or a wood: at one time we passed through a succession of fine oak, beech, alder, and cork trees, and then reached commons, on which wild pears and olives grew in extraordinary luxuriance.
In the mid-distance, near Luogu Santu, are some enormous masses of granite that have fallen from the lofty summits of the hills, through the forest, to the bottom of the ravine, carrying everything before them with destructive fury. Several of these rocks, from their dimensions and specific gravity, must be upwards of five or six thousand tons in weight!
Approaching Tempio, we arrived at a fine Nuraghe [Majore], through a narrow and difficult pass, where assassins and robbers were wont to await their victims; on this spot, only three months before, a lieutenant, a serjeant, and a private of the Carabineers had been killed, and two or three wounded.
To the west of it stands Aggius, a village seated just under the crags of an amphitheatre of rocky mountains, of such toilsome access as to give rise to its present name, derived from Aigeios, as fit only for goats. Until within a year or two, the natives were all banditti; but both themselves and their neighbours have been so chastised, and subdued in the recent conflicts with the Carabineers, that the country around is now tolerably quiet. […]
The Gallura is thought by most Sardinian writers, to have derived its name from the Gauls, who passed over with Galatus; but it was more probably from the Pisan Counts, who so long governed this district, and bore a cock in their arms.
Dante, speaking of the marriage of Beatrice of Este, widow of Judge Ugolino, to Galeazzo Visconti, is merciless in his satire:
Non le farà si bella sepoltura
La vipera che i Milanesi accampa
SOURCES OF ILLUSTRATIONS
19th Century Paintings, Drawings and Lithographs
Michel Antony Shrapnel Biddulph, Valley of the Liscia, ca 1858, IN Thomas Forester, Rambles in the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, London, Longman. Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1858; 1861.
Old coat of arms of Tempio, by rete.comuni-italiani.it
Postcards and Photos, Late 19th/Early 20th Century
coll. by Erennio Pedroni
Mouth of the river Liscia, by Alessandro Ravizza – Flickr
Antonio Concas – Flickr, Roberto Gamboni – Flickr, own photo – Flickr, Antonio Concas – Flickr, Stefanie Gehrig – Flickr