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Discovering Usini, from the medieval Giudicato to the delights of the cagnulari

by Franco Cuccuru
Usini la chiesa di Santa Croce
Usini la chiesa di Santa Croce

The church of Santa Croce is worth visiting, to taste the oil and the andarinos, handmade pasta

19 agosto 2023

Located in the triangle of Sassari, Alghero and Porto Torres, the heart of a northwestern Sardinia and the main “gateway” to western Sardinia, Usini with a little more than 4200 inhabitants was part of the medieval Giudicato of Torres and, specifically, of the curatoria of Coros, comprising at the time about 29 “biddas”, now disappeared and included between the borders of the municipalities of Ittiri, Uri, Tissi, Ossi and precisely Usini. Taking for good the etymological research that is in vogue, the toponym Usini would derive from the Greek “Euxenos”, or its Latin counterpart, and would mean in both cases “hospitable place”. Sacred Sardinian hospitality that has its roots in the mists of time, testified by an existence and human presence probably dated back in time, given the rich heritage of archaeological finds, Domus de Janas and remains of human settlements referable to the Neolithic period, constantly being studied by the University of Sassari. Historically, there are also many testimonies about Usini present in the monastic registers, “Condaghes”, dating back to the 12th century, always made alive by the presence of the ancient Church of Santa Croce precious monument at the entrance of the village, and the rural Church of San Giorgio di Oleastreto, images of a Romanesque in Sardinia of which, even today, the municipality is an active part in the construction of tourist and cultural routes. At 200 meters above sea level and in its 30.7 square kilometers of territory, one cannot fail to see the beauty of the areas planted with vines, olive groves and artichoke fields, tangible signs of a farming civilization that has given so much and still continues to offer its fruits. In Usini the “Land of Cagnualri”, wine is the driving force behind an entire community, the engine of a growing economy and today, in 2023, the main cultural tourist attraction. «This characterizes us and makes usinesians at heart – said Mayor Antonio Brundu – and the now imminent works on the “Corte di Casa Diaz”, which will become Corte e Cantina del Cagnulari, will be the fullfillment achievement of a dream we have been cultivating since 2015». Corte di Casa Diaz, one of the jewels of Usini's rural civilization and history, a place of economy and work for so many Usini families. The Court, very soon, will be a visitable place of culture and tradition, the heart of Usini enology and will be the point where, as many as 11 wineries in the village that bottle wine, will be able to display their products and allow visitors to take away the precious souvenir, the bottle of wine. A tribute to the sacrifice and work of so many wineries and a memory, always alive, of the figure who gave birth to this route: Billia Cherchi, and his story, pioneer of that rediscovered “Cagnulari” that today is the emblem of a community. «We have always believed in this project, for the edification of our territory, the protection of our princely product and the right support to the many private individuals who have invested in the issue». Usini is a town characterized by intense cultural activity and strong social dynamism, evidenced by more than 25 associations present and active in the cultural, sports and volunteer fields. The Pro Loco, above all, is an active part of this path by following, among the many activities, the most important occasions of village festivities, such as precisely the Sagra degli Andarinos scheduled for Saturday, August 5, a typical pasta unique and exclusive to Usini, and the traditional “Ajò a ippuntare”, a traveling tasting of new wine that attracts the attention of thousands of people every year. Wine and Andarinos, together, represent the two flagships of Usini's art and tastes and flavors, a source of pride also economically between the wineries and the pasta factory of the same name, which produces andarinos one by one, following the ancient principles of making pasta, on ancient striped glass and with a simple but decisive movement of the thumb. There is also a history of singing, music and dance, with the School of Traditional Guitar Singing, the Logudoro Choir of Usini and the Usini Choir, born instead in 1974, the first choral formation in all of northern Sardinia and which, in 2024, will celebrate 50 years of activity. Completing the picture are the two folk groups San Gorgio di Usini, which next August 4 and 5 will celebrate 25 years of activity with the traditional international festival “A manu tenta”, and the Ursinia Folk Traditions Association.

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