The Castle of San Michele: a piece of Sardinian medieval history to be enhanced

The Castle of San Michele: a piece of Sardinian medieval history to be enhanced

From the windows of our school, the De Sanctis-Deledda Institute, you can admire the view of one of the towers of the Castle of San Michele, and our garden is bordered by the park of the Hill.

In the 2018 edition of Monumenti Aperti, our students guided visitors to discover the history of the Castle of San Michele and its most famous inhabitant, Countess Violante Carroz.

This experience helped us to understand how little we know about the history of the places we live in and how much history there is around us.

The fame of Violante Carroz, the last heir of one of the most important feudal families in Sardinia, has reached us linked to the epithet of Sanguinaria, Bloody. A fierce and cruel woman, as she is known according to popular legend, while Maria-Mercé Costa, a Catalan scholar, calls her “dissortada”, unfortunate.

The project stemmed from an idea by Marcella Cancedda, who wrote the first text, and aims to render justice to a female figure that is more complex and multifaceted than described in rumors.

Violante was a powerful woman in a world of men-at-arms, who did not forgive her for wanting to exercise the role that belonged to her as head of her fief.

In the 2019 edition of Monumenti Aperti, in the hall of the Tower where the countess had lived, a dialogue between a young Violante (played by one of our students) and her servant was presented to the public, set on Christmas night in 1468. The reading was accompanied by a guitarist from the Cagliari Conservatory

The appreciation shown by the public convinced us to expand the project, included in our school’s PCTO [Activities for transversal competences and orienteering], to enhance the value of a monument that is still little known, yet very important in the medieval history of the city of Cagliari and Sardinia.

The Fondazione di Sardegna – ROL Call for Education – positively assessed our initiative and decided to finance it. Sardegna Solidale, Consorzio Camù, which manages the monument, and our school, the I.I.S. De Sanctis-Deledda, co-financed it.

The director of Crogiuolo Rita Atzeri revised the text, transforming it into a dialogue between four characters: Violante, her mother-in-law Brianda and their two ladies-in-waiting, played by some students of our school, who took part in the Reading Aloud course held by the director.

Maestro Fois, lutenist at the Cagliari Conservatory, wrote the music accompanying the text.

Two costume designers, Alessandra Fadda and Nicoletta Demontis, each guided a group of students in the historical research on period clothes, in drawing sketches, in choosing fabrics, then in cutting and sewing the garments that will be worn by the interpreters.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown of all activities forced the director, costume designers, musician and students to work remotely, using online lesson platforms, overcoming considerable technical difficulties.

The final version of the reading was recorded for the online edition of Monumenti Aperti 2020, while waiting for it to be performed inside the Castle of San Michele, in front of a live audience.