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Romana, a village to discover: domus de janas ancient churches and an original sundial

by Mario Bonu
Romana, a village to discover: domus de janas ancient churches and an original sundial

The center offers pre-nuragic sites and a nature rich in streams of water but struggles against depopulation

21 settembre 2023

Those who happen to be in Romana and will need to know the time will not need a watch; they need only look at the space relating to the current month on the square of Santa Maria degli Angeli to see a thin ray of sunlight creating a small roundish reflection on the “lemniscata” (horizontal figure-of-eight curve): that is the exact time. It is the magic of the sundial built in 1999 at the behest of the city administration led by then Mayor Francesco Sole. Engineer Pietro Cosseddu of this work was the designer and architect. But Romana is not only that original and visionary work on the parish church square. Situated on a plateau 267 m. above sea level and surrounded by striking karst landscapes, starting with the “Inghiltidolzu” cave in the nearby valley of Santu Giagu, the territory of Romana has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as shown by the various testimonies present. Among them is the splendid domus de janas of Monte Airadu - also known as Sos Aladervos - with a central column, stylized protomes in bas-relief, cells, antechambers, false door to the afterlife, symbols and signs of a fascinating archaic devotion. In medieval times, the territory belonged to the Giudicato of Logudoro, in the curatoria of Nurcara. Upon the death of Adelasia of Torres, with the dissolution of the Giudicato, the village passed, first, into the hands of the Dorias, then into those of the Aragonese and, later still, into those of the Piedmontese. Of great historical and architectural interest, in the center of the village, is the parish church of Our Lady of the Angels. Erected in the 15th or 16th century, it was heavily remodeled in the 18th century. In the parish church of Romana is preserved a relic of St. John of Nepomuk, donated by the pope in the late 1700s. Also in the village center is the small Romanesque church of Santa Croce (cheja de Santa Rughe). Outside the town, very interesting is the sanctuary of San Lussorio (cheja de Santu Lussùlzu), located inside a cave and considered one of the oldest churches in Sardinia. Between August 20th and 28th, a festival is celebrated there that is very much felt by the inhabitants of Romana, with night vigils and numerous civic attractions. Returning to the village, its streets turn out to be characterized by the presence of numerous murals, some of which reproduce scenes of agro-pastoral life, while others draw inspiration from the fine paintings of Romana painter Brancaleone Cugusi, considered one of the most original artistic personalities of Sardinia in the first half of the 20th century. The territory is rich in waters that have fostered intense anthropization since the earliest times. Worth mentioning, in addition to Rio Melas, Temo and the artificial lake of the same name, are the Abbarghente springs, also called Mudeju springs, from which naturally sparkling, thermal water of volcanic origin gushes forth. An area rich in evidence and resources, which must, however, come to terms, says Mayor Lucia Catte, with the enormous difficulties with which all small towns are measured. «We have also lost the preschool – says the mayor – along with a host of other services. We would need more attentive and longer-term regional policies» concludes Lucia Catte. Because the daily wager of those who administer, is the awareness of having received in management an important piece of history, which is accompanied by the will to want to hand it over intact to those who will come after.

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