Bes( Best Events Sardinia)is a project of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia.Its intention is to help discover an island which few people really know. The heart of jazz in the Meiterranean is Sardinia, where you can choose from a vast number of music festivals with national and international stars.And besides music, you can also enjoy classic and experimental theatre.The events calendar begins in May with Abbabula (www.leragazzeterribili.com), a festival held in Sassari that features a select variety of music and lyrics. The shows quench the thirst of the soul like “water in your throat” (“Abbabula” in Sardinian), as the public is captivated by the irresistible energy of a broad repertory from the 1960s to the present. In the last edition, two icons of music shared the stage: Marianne Faithful, who chose Sassari for the final date of a brief Italian tour, and Rickie Lee Jones, who presented her new album entitled, “The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard” to Italian audiences. There was also Avion Travel, as well as John De Leo, the former singer of Quintorigo, who was promoting a new album that was released in the Fall. Arnoldo Foà’s performance of “Storie di Tango” was intimate and touching; his warm voice caressed verses by Borges which were set to the notes of tangos and the steps of tango dancers.
Ogliastra - the land of Cannonau DOC red wine - has a crisp, craggy landscape whose sheer drop overlooks the east coast of Sardinia. Again this year, its limestone rocks called “Tacchi” are the natural backdrop for the annual “Rocce Rosse & Blues” (www.roccerosse.it) review running from June to September, and for a theatre festival entitled “Ogliastrateatro (www.cadadieteatro.it), now in its ninth edition. As per tradition, Rocce Rosse is again hosting international stars of the calibre of Patti Smith and Lou Reed, who excited the public at last year’s festival, and opens the season’s two themes of blues and jazz every year.
Those who experience theatre as a voyage of the soul never miss the Ogliastrateatro festival in Jerzu and Ulassai. The public wanders among new-fashioned stages (the Art Station, the cellars of the wine co-operative, town squares, a cave...) in search of excitement and grandeur. “Eight days of theatre in unique places, with performances that tell our stories” responds festival artistic director Giancarlo Biffi when asked what Ogliastrateatro is all about. Each show conveys a great love for the local area and a strong involvement with Nature. In fact, some actors perform in the open air in the Sant’Antonio Woods at Jerzu and at the Art Station established by artist Maria Lai in Ulassai (in the province of Ogliastra). Every year, the event offers experimental theatre, original productions, and theatrical study sessions open to public participation.
Great exponents of theatre, poetry, dance and music perform at La notte dei poeti (The Night of the Poets) (www.lanottedeipoeti.it), which last year celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Roman amphitheatre in Nora (in the province of Cagliari), with actresses having a strong personality (such as Anna Proclemer), grand ladies of show business (like Valentina Cortese and Catherine Spaak), and young up-and-comers who are partners on stage and in real life (such as Fabrizio Gifuni and Sonia Bergamasco). The last edition featured the refined music of pianist/composer Ludovico Einaudi “In Solo Concert”. The 2008 edition will host national and international dance companies on the Arena stage.
Jazz is very popular in Sardinia, and artists from around the world feel this “adopted affinity”. That’s why there are so many jazz festivals with large numbers of participants during the Sardinian summer.
Calagonone Jazz Festival (www.festivalcalagononejazz.it). This late-July festival hosts trumpet players and musicians from every continent in the splendid settings of the Gulf of Orosei and Villa Ticca in Calagonone (in the province of Nuoro). The guest star in the last edition was Cuban musician Omar Sosa, who teamed up with guitarist Battista Giordano and the Tenores di Oniferi in the original production “Isolanos”, which combined “a tenore” singing (designated by Unesco as part of the world’s human heritage) with Cuban music and Latin jazz.
Musica sulle bocche (www.musicasullebocche.it) This musical marathon held at Santa Teresa Gallura (in the province of Olbia) never disappoints its fans, and there’s lots of joy for first timers. There are band exhibitions by expert musicians and Tumbarinos from Gavoi, a small town near Nuoro where people play an antique instrument with great musical impact (a hand-crafted tambourine made with goat and sheep skins). They even perform on ferries arriving in Santa Teresa! And besides the continuous concerts, writers narrate words and stories at the same time on a different stage. The traditional sunrise concert on the beach at Rena Bianca is a long awaited event. Enzo Favata has been the heart and the mind of the festival since 2001. This internationally famous jazz artist with 12 solo albums to his credit and many sessions with international artists often plays duets with artists hosted at the festival.
Another musical giant from the Island is trumpet player Paolo Fresu, who is well known outside his native Sardinia. Every year during the second week in August, the sounds of Fresu delight thousands of persons at Berchidda (a small town in the province of Olbia), where the formula of “excellent music/authentic relationships” has been successful for twenty years. At Time in jazz (www.timeinjazz.it), there are concerts day and night in unusual places - from the woods of the Limbara massif to rural churches, from ships on the sea to the gardens in the Agnata estate owned by singer-songwriter Fabrizio De Andrè, who died in 1999. The festival begins on-board a ship arriving at Golfo Aranci on the Emerald Coast and continues with a series of concerts and encounters with writers and poets held day and night in various locations at Berchidda and in the surrounding areas. There’s lots of fun, and also works of art at exhibits, contemporary art exhibitions and photographic installations.
The summer traditionally ends with Ai confini tra Sardegna e jazz (At the Frontier between Sardinia and Jazz) (www.santannarresijazz.it), an event held in a jazz club atmosphere on Piazza del Nuraghe square in Sant’Anna Arresi (Carbonia-Iglesias). It’s a happening with refined music, powerful orchestras and bands, and a host of international musicians from around the world. The sounds truly rule at Sant’Anna Arresi!
In November, Cagliari plays host to the much-awaited International Jazz Festival and the Jazz Expo series of fifty non-stop concerts, seminars and meetings. It’s a chance to enjoy excellent music and get to know the Sardinian festivals hosted in Jazz Expo. Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani, Sean Jones, Roy Hargrove and Nino Rosele are just some of the artists participating in the festivities.
THE LOCALES OF THE FESTIVALS
SASSARI (ABBABULA FESTIVAL)
Sassari, the provincial capital for Capo di Sopra, developed from a grouping of separate villages, as can be seen in the names of monuments such as San Pietro di Silki, San Giacomo di Taniga, and San Giovanni di Boscove. The name of the city is mentioned for the first time in an old ledger from 1131 that was found in the San Pietro in Silki monastery on the outskirts of the city. The city features an interesting historical stratification due to expansions and urban planning, which are still taking place.
The elegance of the business district, the charm of the old centre with its medieval houses on twisting lanes, and the stirring feeling you get from the baroque altars in gilded wood inside the churches are among the many attractions of Sassari, which stretches out on a plateau facing Asinara island. The fabric of the city centre revolves around San Nicola cathedral. Its lavishly ornate facade dominates an area where archaeological digs have recently begun.
Why visit Sassari?
A lively city that combines beauty and hospitality, Sassari is a stage for festive, spirited events that attract numerous visitors each year. On August 14, there’s the festival of the Candlesticks, when members of the Gremi (antique associations of arts and trades) accompany a procession from Castle Square to the Santa Maria di Betlem church while carrying nine massive decorated candles that represent the respective categories of the Gremi. This very old festival is dedicated to the Madonna of the Assumption.
Sassari also hosts an event of pure showmanship: the famous Cavalcata, which takes place on the next-to-last Sunday in May to celebrate the Ascension. It features exhibitions of exceptionally skilled horsemen performing equestrian feats. And the city offers more than festivals, since it’s also a renowned centre of traditional foods and wines. Its dishes can turn a simple visit into an unforgettable experience. Examples include snails prepared in various, savoury ways and the famous ziminata - a delectable dish made with entrails of roast veal.
OGLIASTRA (ROCCE ROSSE E BLUES – OGLIASTRATEATRO)
The province of Ogliastra extends from the upper Flumendosa basin to the eastern side of the Gennargentu massif and has a tall, spectacularly beautiful rocky coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea. On its southern borders, it also includes part of the traditional territory of the old Quirra marquisate.
It’s the least populated province in Italy, since its almost exclusively mountainous terrain is mostly covered by woods and pastures. Even though it has become an important tourist centre, Ogliastra also makes its living with traditional activities such as sheep raising (the pecorino and other cheeses are very tasty, as are the non-ripened cheeses called cas'e fitta and casu axeru), farming, wine making (the famous Cannonau di Jerzu), and handicrafts.
An awareness of the importance of conservation has spurred regional and municipal governments to invest in the reforestation and enhancement of forested areas, where you can now take excursions and explore the natural and archaeological heritage. The varied coastal landscape is one of the great riches of the area. In the north, towering calcareous rocks surround small, silent coves such as the famous Goloritzè Cove, which can be reached only by boat or on foot. Ogliastra is the quintessential land of trekking.
Further to the south, in the areas around Arbatax, Tortolì and Gairo, broad sandy beaches such as Cea, San Gemiliano, Orrì and Musculedda are interspersed among rocks of red porphyry and granite, and surround an unusual black beach at Coccorocci. Ogliastra is one of those wondrous places where you discover a different mountainous or seaside landscape at every turn.
PULA – NORA (LA NOTTE DEI POETI)
The town of Pula is located in an excellent position on the south-western coast of the Gulf of the Angels. It’s an important farming centre, and in summer its population swells with hoards of tourists flocking to the beaches. Caressed by a crystal-clear sea, the long and sandy coast is a prime destination for the large number of travellers whose expenditures greatly contribute to the wealth of the town every year. Pula is widely known for the important archaeological area of Nora.
This land has been inhabited since the time of the nuraghes, as demonstrated by the archaeological remnants found here. The archaeological area of Nora is located at the foot of a promontory with two arms extending toward the sea; namely, the point of Coltellazzo and the point of the Serpents. The name “Nora” is a pre-Phoenician word that has the same root as “nuraghe”, which means rock or hollow. The first evidence of Nora is a piece of sandstone from the ninth century BC inscribed with the name of the city (and the name of Sardinia) in Phoenician. Substantial evidence of the Phoenicians, the Punics and the Romans is found in this archaeological area. The archaeological remnants at Nora include the only known example of a Roman theatre in Sardinia. Also of significant interest is the Romanesque Sant'Efisio church built in Nora in the late 11th Century, where the remains of Efisio the Martyr are said to be buried. A festival devoted to him is celebrated every year on May 1.
DORGALI – CALAGONONE JAZZ
With its 225 sq. km. of area, Dorgali is one of the largest municipalities in Sardinia. Here, the crystal-clear water of the Gulf of Orosei and the untamed mountains of the Supramonte chain are an enviable natural heritage. Extending along a rocky ridge that descends from Mt. Bardia the town is 30 km. from Nuoro and a little less than 10 km. from the sea at Gonone Cove. The area depends on farming and shepherding, yet is also an important centre of crafting leather, ceramics, articles decorated with filigrees, and rugs. Two important stops for gourmets are the wine co-operative and the cheese factory.
Why visit Dorgali?
There are venerable buildings made of dark volcanic rock in the old town centre, and many churches in the built-up area, including San Lussorio, Madonna d'Itria and the Maddalena. Rising up over centrally located Vittorio Emanuele square is the facade of the Santa Caterina parish church, whose interior is decorated with a massive sculpted wooden altar. You can also visit the interesting Archaeological Museum and its important collection of artefacts from the time of the nuraghes, the Punics and the Romans (some remnants come from the nearby site of Serra Òrrios). At the Museum, you can get information on trips to the village of Tiscali. A number of beaches such as Cala Cartoe, Osalla di Dorgali and Ziu Martine are worth a visit to enjoy their natural beauty. The world-famous Grotta del Bue Marino (Grotto of the Monk Seal) is also in the Town of Dorgali.
SANTA TERESA GALLURA – MUSICA SULLE BOCCHE
This town is situated in the narrow natural inlet of Porto Longonsardo on the western edge of the Gallura area at the tip of northern Sardinia, in an area characterized by outcrops of granite and a jagged coastline. First populated during the Roman Epoch, Santa Teresa was also important to the people of Pisa, who extracted construction stone from the granite outcrops. The current town was built from scratch when the area was dominated by the House of Savoy. It’s neatly crossed by straight roads that intersect at right angles and has a small square containing San Vittorio church at the centre.
Why visit Santa Teresa Gallura?
Rising up on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea is Longosardo Tower, which was built during the Aragonese period in the 16th Century. A visitor to the Tower can admire the bay of Porto Longone and also, in the background, the white cliffs that surround the Corsican city of Bonifacio. On the left, the coast descends toward Rena Bianca beach, only a short distance from the cliffs of Monica Island, where traces of an abandoned quarry still remain. Worth special mention for its cultural importance is the Lu Brandali archaeological complex, and we also recommend a visit to Capo Testa, a cliff that is connected to the mainland by a strip of sand and is reached by taking a scenic trip across the bays of Colba and Santa Reparata. Finally you reach the lighthouse at Capo Testa, amidst modern and ancient quarries (it was here that the Romans obtained the rock for the columns of the Pantheon) and the scent of the thicket.
BERCHIDDA – TIME IN JAZZ
Berchidda is a small town in northern Sardinia that is invaded each year by 40 thousand fans attending the “Time in Jazz” festival. The town is part of the Mt. Acute area on the border between Logudoro and Gallura, and is located near Lake Coghinas and the Limbara massif with its nationally owned forest; in fact, the entire area is covered by arbutus, myrtle, ilex and cork trees. From Berchidda, you can easily reach Tempio Pausania with its white granite houses (only one kilometre away, you can visit the Great Nuraghes at Palau), the Emerald Coast, Caprera (where Giuseppe Garibaldi is buried), La Maddalena, and the National Geo-marine Park.
SANT’ANNA ARRESI – AI CONFINI TRA SARDEGNA E JAZZ
Located in the centre of the Sulcis area, Sant'Anna Arresi is a pretty town with a thousand attractions, so it’s no accident that tourism in the area has developed significantly over the past few decades.
The name of the town is a combination of the name of its patron saint and the name used to identify a pastoral nuraghe in the centre of the built-up area, which is located next to a parochial church dating back to the mid-19th Century (the original structure was replaced by the new church built nearby).
Records indicate that human settlement in the area began in the age of the nuraghes - that is, the Bronze Age - as shown by the numerous nuraghes and tombs of giants. This area was especially important in the Phoenician-Punic era and then in the Roman epoch because of the convenient port facilities offered by the landings on the coast.
The current town developed in the 1700s around the nuraghes that still dominate the main square. Initially a cluster of rural houses, the town gradually expanded until reaching its current size.
CAGLIARI – INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
Presumably founded by the Phoenicians back in the 8th Century BC, Cagliari has always been Sardinia’s port, and the foreigners who reached the island made it their centre of power - from the Phoenicians to the Romans, from the Vandals to the Byzantines, and then the Pisans, Aragonese and Piedmontese. It’s the capital of the Region, and it developed around the hill at Castello (one of the city’s four antique neighbourhoods along with Marina, Villanova and Stampace).
In the Byzantine era, the nucleus of the city moved to a more inland position on the shores of St. Gilla pond and took the name of St. Igia. It was only in the 13th Century that urbanization resumed in the area where the city is currently situated, first on Castello hill, and subsequently in the three neighbourhoods located on its slopes.
Why visit Cagliari?
Besides the artistic treasures that dot the four old neighbourhoods, Cagliari is full of important archaeological sites and hosts the second largest Punic necropolis in the Mediterranean (after the facility in Carthage). Often threatened by new building construction, the Tuvixeddu necropolis has been fully restored and enhanced for enjoyment by the general public.
The most important evidence of Cagliari in Roman times is the amphitheatre (1st-2nd Century AD), which was completely excavated in the rock on the slopes of Buoncammino hill, in the hamlet known as Palabanda. Connected to the structure is a botanical garden founded in 1865 that contains more than 500 species of tropical plants and typical Mediterranean flora, as well as the so-called Villa di Tigellio - an interesting complex of three urban houses from the Roman era. Located along viale S. Avendrace (the initial section of the Island’s main traffic artery connecting Cagliari to Porto Torres) is the burial ground known as the Viper’s Grotto (1st Century AD). It’s named after the snake that appears on the pediment sculpted into the rock and was believed to possess redeeming qualities. And let’s not forget the celebrated 18th Century Bonaria basilica and its scenic staircase. It’s one of the most celebrated attractions of the city.