Tratalias: a ghost town of wonders

Tratalias, a small medieval town in Sulcis, had a population of just over 1,500 in the 1950s when it started to be damaged by the infiltration of water from a dyke built near Rio Palmas, and the resulting construction of the Monte Pranu reservoir.

The worsening damage forced the town government to rebuild the town in a nearby, slightly hilly area where the residents were all relocated.

The eerily beautiful Romanesque basilica, now named Santa Maria di Monserrato, whose construction began in 1213, stands here in its unlikely scale and austere and symbol-rich facade, fueling legends and rumors. It was built to house the episcopal see moved from Sant’Antioco, abandoned due to attacks by pirates and Saracens, replacing an earlier small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The abandoned, erstwhile village has been given a second life with a non-invasive, well-done restoration, saving several homes and converting them to charming artisan workshops.

The village is in the San Giovanni Suergiu area, a short ways from Carbonia and the bridge connecting Sardinia and the island of Sant’Antioco, on the road to Giba and Sant’Anna Arresi.

The magical atmosphere of the place never disappoints, especially combined with delightful experiences like going to the studio of Arianna, AKA ArJànas, where she spins, dyes and weaves her linen and wool in the still of the village, matching an age-old skill with her youthful enthusiasm.

Her gorgeous unique creations are priceless; her tenacity and strong-willed skill are impressive. As if by magic, in her hands, linen is transformed from a seed to jewelry.

You can top off your visit, if the timing is right, with a stop for dinner at Locanda Monserrat, a restaurant as simple as it is elegant where you can enjoy dishes with the perfect balance of modernity and tradition. The Locanda is a popular venue for reception dinners of weddings celebrated in the timeless, enchanting setting of the Cathedral.