Tom Fenton and Faith Ressmeyer
Sat 24 May 2014 07:13
Bosa is beautiful, on the only navigable river in Sardinia. The town is on a rise some two or three miles inland from the harbour. The landscape seems to be a high crust of vertically fissured red stone (trachite?) which has been eroded into the valleys, flood plain and river bed. So now all that is left of the crust are crags on top of all the hills around us. We feel very protected and snug. The harbour is a mile inland from the sea and very sheltered. It is not expensive and has an excellent yard and chandlery. We rowed the couple of miles up to the town, which appears not to have changed since the 19th century, or indeed the 18th when most of it was built. Tall narrow houses huddled together so close the sun never dries out the damp in the cobbled streets. One or two fine piazzas with al fresco cafe tables, then a warren of narrow cobbled lanes barely wide enough for a lambretta wind up towards the castle on a crag topped hill commanding the river, valleys and the mountain passes into this secret land. It's main tower is the centre of this self sufficient universe. There is a church within the castle's pink and red trachite walls with C14th frescos, one of which depicts the decomposition of a human body in the grave. Below the castle walls is a cemetery in which no one is buried, but stored instead in mausoleums, tombs or a columbarium. It reminded me partly of the norther cemetery in Cairo where poor families live in the now disused family tombs (except this is in use), and partly of a mortuary where the cadavers are stored in huge filing cabinets. All this served to emphasise the differentness of this culture. The Cathedral is spectacular, and (I speak as one who does not usually like Rococco) elegant. It's intricate marble inlays, the fine carved lions subduing dragons at the foot of the chancel steps, and the honest frescos are self confident without showing off. Outside the builders are digging into the foundations of derelict buildings and modern development is on the move. But this town, with its olive groves, orchards, fishing boats and nets on the river banks, its pastures and the site of the old Roman town half a mile away, a landscape created by Tuscans and inherited by Aragonese, will be an unspoilt treasure for a good few more years.