That Seemingly Empty Place

There are many lonely places in Sardinia; it is so sparsely inhabited that it is easy to find yourself utterly alone, surrounded only by the lively silence of the countryside. But the locals warn that, should you be tempted to pick up that old glass doorknob in an abandoned furriadroxu or to hop a fence to follow a short cut, someone is always watching you. There’s the everyday truth to it: small towns whose livelihood is based on agriculture and shepherding spend plenty of time in the countryside and notice any small change - a new car in town, two tiny moving dots on horizon, an unfamiliar voice in the bar. And there is the otherworldly connotation as well - Sardinia is a place of fairies and witches, good and bad.

In this lonely place, we stood on the top of a hill, with a view on all sides. Sloping hills, a small town in the distance, empty stretches of scrub and wildflowers, cultivated fields of tender green shoots and then a stretch of ocean - blue and constant. Silence, slight wind. Today there is nothing ominous about the view of the sea. Not long ago, though, this place was inhabited by men with guns. In these hidden worlds, the small spaces sheltered them for endless hours, surrounded by the desperation of raw concrete. Each bunker is made of small, crude, twisting tunnels; entering the miniature spaces is like entering a snail shell. At the end of each, lies a small room, musty and dark, and a small slit with an incredible view of the surrounding valleys.

The last Great War is worn like a scar by all of the First World. And now this strange lookout lies in the middle of a field with no roads leading to it, no signs of life, with the pristine skeleton of a lone sheep inside one bunker. The walls sweat a coat of loneliness. Young men lived here, far from home, with the fear of death and the wound of responsibility being scratched deeper into their character - bored and scared and damaged and proud. Today no one is around but we are all being watched.

Words Kyre Chenven / Photos Ivano Atzori

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