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Historical outlines on the territory
by Ignazio Lecca


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These short historical outlines on the micro-history of the Poggio dei Pini area are an essential part of the micro-history of Capoterra, the "near and far" village, as correctly defined by Emanuele Atzori, a keen reporter of his village.
Pascula Cugia, in his "New itinerary of the island of Sardinia - vol. III - 1892", attributes the origin of the actual village, formerly named Villa di Sant'Efisio di Caputerra, to Girolamo d'Aragal, to be precise Baron Girolamo Torrellas d'Aragal and Cervellion who in 1655 "on this spot sheltered several people coming from northern Sardinia, who had to emigrate from their villages because of animosity and terrible revenges. Capoterra nevertheless existed before that and may be, as P. Aleo claims, closer to the sea shore than today".

View of Poggio dei Pini and Capoterra from Mount S.Barbara

Am item that would seem odd today among the sketchy details reported by Cugia, is the one concerning the economic resources of Capoterra, "therefore its products are various, and worth mentioning are the leeches that are collected and sold".
Another of Cugia's reference more closely concerns the Poggio dei Pini territory: "on the eastern slopes of the Cagliari Gulf mountains, there is a building situated in a very healthy area. The near farmhouses, that take their names from the rural churches of S.Girolamo and St. Barbara, are a holyday resort for some property owners from Cagliari; in the second of these churches it is said there is a statue scultped by Vela".
In the antiquity the wide land from the S.Gilla Pond extending as far as Cape Pula, was called "Caputerra". This arch of land is crowned by the mountain territory constituted by Arcosu, Is Caravius, Santa Barbara and Is Cannoneris.

Map of Sulcis and the Capoterra area

The land had ancient human occupants. At the Santa Gilla Lagoon western end it is called "Cuccuru Ibba" where the remains of a nuragic building had been found. A nuraghe was discovered in 1982 in a the localty named Faneuas in the hill strip north-west of Capoterra. Other nuraghes were found in various parts of the area. Finds in other zones confirm the existence of settlements during the roman and punic ages. A curiousity is found in the built-up area of Capoterra where, until 1844, there were the remains of a nuraghe where today Corso Gramsci crosses Via Diaz.
Of particular interest for Poggio dei Pini is the report by V. Angius in Geographical historical commercial dictionary of the states of His Majesty the King of Sardinia: "It is said that a glass workshop existed not far from the Cioffa on the Capoterra and S.Barbara fork ". The area of the settlement of this kiln for the production of glass should be may be identifiable with the Sa Birdiera zone, inside the Poggio area (Sa Birdiera is a Sardinian name that means "the glass workshop"). If this is true, here there was one of the three kilns in Sardinia during the Roman period.
In 1976 Roman coins, bones and pottery fragments were discovered accidentally by the men of the fire look-out on the top of Mount St. Barbara. The discovery confirms the Roman presence in this area.
On the Gutturu Mannu side there is a toponym, Bidda Mores that reflects in its name a vast archaic Roman settlement surrounded by a wall. Procopius in the "De bello vandalico" remembers the deportation of Mauri (libian people) to Sardinia by the Vandals. Were they the ancestors of the Sulcis Maureddus ?
The Vandals were followed by the Byzantine dominion, during which many churches and hermitages were erected in the island. Some historians put forward the hypotesis that since the Byzantine age there was a setlement of hermits in the St. Barbara hill, called Hermita in ancient times. These hermits respected the eastern cult, with devotion to St. Barbara of Nicodemia who became, after the schism between the Greek Church and the Latin Church, Santa Barbara born in the town of Cagliari and friend of Santa Restituta.
The history of the church and the legend concerning St. Barbara's life are very interesting and deserve to be recounted in a separate page.
Remaining in the Poggio dei Pini territory, not far from the S.Barbara settlement, there is the S.Girolamo valley, curved out by the namesake river between high vertical granite walls. At the end of the valley we find the rural S.Girolamo church, built in the 17th century and restored at the end of the 19th century. Hermits and friars belonging to the religious congregation of the Girolamits, originally from Spain, lived in this locality in past centuries. It turns out that the S.Girolamo friars, soon left the hermit life, and adopted the Augustinian rule.

S. Girolamo church
The little S. Girolamo church as appears today

The church became a presbytery in 1629, until it was suppressed by a law dated 15th August 1867. The church quicky fell into ruins then collapsed and the ruins were used as a holding pen for the sheperds' sheep. Only in 1893 it was rebuild by the Peppino e Faustino Cannas Boy brothers from Cagliari, who had property nearby. The S.Girolamo feast is celebrated at the end of September.

Translated by Giorgio Plazzotta and Jenny Setchell


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