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Terralba and Marceddì, the Old Tower speaks with the voice of memory

The shadows fall vertically on Cathedral square in Terralba. Few brave people cross the churchyard and the streets under the sweltering July sun. A group of retirees chat about the benches, protected by the trees. “The restoration of the Old Tower of Marceddì? A well done thing, important both for the village and for Terralba. I was a builder, I am really curious to see how it will look like when the work is done", says Mr. Marras, who was assigned by the group to answer.

“I used to go there as a child. My family has had a house there for 45 years, the one right in front of the pier", says Claudio, owner of the news kiosk located on the edge of the large square. “My father was crazy about fishing clams. That was our sea, even if it was a pond. I don't know why but I remember with precision the arrival of three campers in 1989. They were tourists who came from the north. They were enchanted by the village. I never thought about how beautiful it could look".

We stop Patrizia Perini in one of the side streets, while she passes on the sidewalk, burdened by shop bags. The Sardinian accent is barely audible in some expressions, embedded in the Roman one: "I have been here for 35 years. My mother emigrated to Rome, and married a man from Terralba...Marceddì is an important place in our memory. Even during the war, my mother and her family moved to the village house in the summer. They carried the furniture on a cart pulled by oxen. Restructuring the tower is important, it can give new life to the village".

“A really beautiful thing. We are all happy for the renovation. We hope it remains authentic”, says Marco Serra, engaged with his father Antonio in cleaning the boats’ bilge. Around Marceddì lives in the blurred lines of the heatwave, the boats on the pier, the dirt road, the few voices arriving from the restaurant, where the other fishermen find themselves after long hours of work at sea. "I used to go to play as a child," says Antonio. “We climbed up to the terrace to admire the view. You entered the room on the second floor and then up the iron stairs. The gate had been torn apart. Then over the years it has turned into an open-air latrine. Restructuring is a very positive thing".

“The tower is the very symbol of Terralba. For years we have wondered why nobody took the initiative. Finally the municipality and the MEDSEA foundation have decided to act", says Cristiano Putzolu, owner of the “Da Lucio” restaurant. “We have Neapolis nearby, the Sea Museum, and the 100 Torri Path passes through here, in one of the most important and evocative moments of the whole walk around Sardinia. The tower will help tourism, and we will help the tower. We will all have to take care of it, both in the maintenance and in the organization of the activities".

Cutting through  few sandy paths we eventually reach the structure, commissioned in 1580 by Philip II of Spain for the sighting of the Saracen pirates who terrorized the coastal populations. The scaffolding covers it, a light breeze helps the team of workers at work, immersed in the solitude of the last piece of land. "We are at a good point" says team leader Marco Frau, in charge of carrying out the project of the architects Pier Paolo Perra and Maria Franca Perra.

His colleagues with a spatula smooth out the surface of the special lime that holds the old and new stones together, set to fill the voids caused by time and neglect. The visual impact that the white of the interstices and the dark surface of the boulders return to the completed portions is splendid. Marco guides us in the rooms on the ground floor and, with a climb on the scaffolding, to those on the next floors. Here too the interventions are well under way, not only on the partitions but also on the sandstone schists of the ceiling. The two ancient rooms will host activities and exhibitions for tourists and lovers of the wetlands.

The last sequence of the climb leads to the terrace, where the observatory will rise. All around the show is majestic: the succession of greens and browns surrounding the ponds of Corru S’Ittiri, San Giovanni and Marceddì. Then the gulf crossed by the wind, Marceddì, Capo San Marco and Capo Frasca. As in the memory of Claudio, Patrizia and Antonio, the memory that becomes future.

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