CHRIS BATTAGLIA

Thoughts

LACONI, ANTICO BORGO, SAINT IGNATIUS

While traveling through Sardegna, Italy for nearly the whole of September, Amanda and I had very few plans. We were to fly to Milan on September 3rd, take a ferry to Sardegna on September 4th, attend a BBQ on September 10th, and film/photograph a wedding on September 12th. Our dates of travel ran September 3rd - 24th, and thus, allowed for a week and a half of adventure around the small, largely unspoiled and traveled-by-Americans island.

To boost our cultural capital and embark on a somewhat personal, pilgrimatic journey, we carved out two travel days to visit the birthplace of Saint Ignatius of Laconi.

Catholicism was the religious structure and narrative framing my childhood. I attended Catholic middle school. From there, all-male, Jesuit High School (founded by Ignatius of Loyola), and followed by Jesuit Liberal Arts University. It felt important to give a nod to my upbringing and see the earth and home from which a peasant-turned-Saint was borne.

Laconi is located in the middle of the island. It is tedious to get to, surrounded by somewhat unremarkable countryside, and unimportant to those not acquainted with the religious significance. But this was a special destination in my mind.

Our Fiat 500 and hours of driving brought us to the small town - an unexpected gem. Magnificent were the feelings of importance. Laconi, at first, feels like a walled city. One enters through gates, and the adjacent settings differ largely from the municipality's architecture and design.

Saint Ignatius' home is small, almost always open to the public, and humble. The street on which it sits is as special as the home. The cobble is perfect. The drainage gutter runs right through the middle, a nice focal point from which the colorful and understated homes splay on either side of the road. Engulfed in foliage, weathered age, and modest features, the dwellings begged our interest. Anyone could live there and be happy.

The gaggle of old men sitting in the main plaza/courtyard illuminated an otherwise stagnant and quiet roadway. Their boisterous and amicable conversation spoke to years of companionship and venerable social tradition. A true community lives in Laconi, and we could all take notice to the example it sets.

With no previously arranged accommodations, we navigated our tiny vehicle through ascending, winding alleys in search of a bed for a night. We found a man dressed in the supermarket garb, recognized the logo, assumed he was a man who knew of some locals to extract arrangements for the evening, and engaged him. He walked us up the road to Antico Borgo, a Bed and Breakfast in front right in front of us.

Something about Tomasina and Pepe excited us. We stepped eagerly into their home - their work - and became transfixed. Already at home within a few minutes, we dropped our bags, parked the car, and relished in the comfort that came with sleeping in a bed for the night. The two nights prior, we slept in the car, roadside. This was heaven. The views: spectacular. The clocktower loomed over the small town. Greenery surrounded us, and farmland outside of the city.

Pepe mentioned he looks like Gary Cooper, and that he would want some updated photographs of his likeness in the morning. Tomasina provided us homemade Limoncello and Moscato wine. We loved them. They are both tiny people, and stalwarts to their work and marriage.

In my broken and excruciatingly slow Italian, I served the conduit between our lives, reason for Sardinian travel, and other conversation more than just small talk. They brought out photo albums 50 years old, documenting Pepe's photographic interests around the times they wed, traveled to Rome on holiday, and more. They were beautiful young adults. But they are even more poignantly beautiful in their old age. I owe it to Tomasina and Pepe to end up as they are, one day.

Below are a series of images traveling to and within Laconi, St. Ignatius' home, Tomasina, Pepe, their B&B and garden, and a couple links to their accommodations on Trip Advisor. They smallest gift we could leave them, besides payment for an incredible experience, was a new set of interior photographs for the business. You'll find those under Traveler Photographs on the site.

Making the effort to Laconi proved worthy of any type of travel trip. The virtually unknown forest and park sent us into a fit of happiness. Why? Waterfalls. Ruins. Seemingly endless walking paths. The gravity of the Laconi overnight hit us, finally, in the car, driving back to the capital city of Cagliari the following day.

And, truth be told, although I thought this Ignatius was the saint who founded the Jesuit order of priests under whom I was educated, the disappointment came and left. That we made it to Laconi proved an incredibly happy accident, for we will never forget the time we became Laconi pilgrims for a night, at the Antico Borgo B&B.

Antico Borgo Website: http://anticoborgoweb.it 

Antico Borgo on Trip Advisor: B&B Antico Borgo