My route to the airport tends to see me careening around hairpin bends in the picturesque mountains of Southern Sardinia. Vineyards and scrubland. The occasional dog at the reservoir. Goats in the road. It requires concentration. With no passengers I’ll hear the faint screaming of my tyres if I’ve slightly rinsed the throttle on a hairpin. With passengers, their screaming drowns that out… To be honest I rarely do the route with passengers. I go the flat straight way around the mountains, so they can do admin on their phones without feeling ill. Mobile reception is gone in the mountains and the radio gets no signal either, so it’s a good half an hour of active drivemeditation. I get lost in thought as my concentration and sense memory take over. I’m not slinging it recklessly. But I’m driving it actively. It’s a strange long joy. My rental car has “lane assist” though which you have to disable every time. It is lethal and ruins your line in the road. When you can see the road ahead it often makes sense to cross the line without indicating, and it tries to automatically adjust you into a tree on the right. You can fight it and win. But it’s better switched off.
On the far side of the range from Porto Pino the road flattens out into a big straight Roman road again, shooting through the Acquafreddo valley, down towards Cagliari. Dominating this valley is a squat tall rock with views for miles and, sharp against the summer sky, right on top, you see the ruins of a medieval castle.
When I first saw it, I thought the rock was wind eroded into looking almost like a goat skull. Yesterday, John the medic identified it as a castle.
I stopped today in a layby, and walked into the middle of the empty road to take that photo. Warm wet heat hits as soon as you leave the vehicle. Cicadas chirring. A cacophony of bells and bleating from the semi governed goats who pick from the roadside and defy you as you pass. And there, watching it all, surveying the kingdom of the goats, the horned castle from the judges of Cagliari in the wake of Byzantium when the Roman attempts to run things from Turkey were beginning to disintegrate. I might try to go up there some time. My eye and attention are drawn hard to it every time I pass.
I’m starting to make sense of the history here. It’s been busy. The graffiti calls for an independence which has been more idealistic than nationalistic. A referendum proposal was overturned by one vote. We are out on a limb here from Italy though. It’s not as bad as Byzantium but this doesn’t feel like Italy despite everybody speaking Italian. This feels more creative and less regimented. More hairpin bend and less Roman road. More goats and cows and less traffic cops.