THE VILLAGE “I felt like I was walking on many pieces of a black cruets factory, so many the black volcanic glass splinters were”, that is what General Alberto della Marmora wrote in the Nineteenth century about Pau after going round Sardinia. The black volcanic glass splinters were nothing but obsidian fragments that Neolithic and Nuragic people used to make tools (arrows, spears, scrapers) or as goods trade. Nowadays the territory is still rich in obsidian as one can see by walking down the area, because Monte Arci has been one of the richest deposits of this mineral. The place name derives from Latin “pagus” that means village, hamlet.
TERRITORY Pau is quite rightly considered the village of obsidian because of the conspicuous presence of this precious black volcanic and glassy mineral all over Monte Arci. The territory of Pau is located on the eastern side of Monte Arci. It is characterised by a sweet morphology that is interrupted at some points by escarpments of volcanic origin. The highest peaks are Genna Spina (732 m. a.s.l.) and Punta Su Ventosu (681 m. a.s.l.). Around the village there is a landscape that consists of luxuriant leech woods and others typical Mediterranean species. These species alternate with flat fields, vineyards and conifers reforestation areas that are in the highest peaks of Monte Arci. In this territory there are also many springs such as Sa Mitza s’Acqua Bella, Sa Figuera, Mitza Brunca Venu, Fustiolau, Mitza Mereu and many others. The area called Sennixeddu is particularly interesting because, within a beautiful landscape consisting of millenarian vineyards and oaks, there is the only mountainous camp site of Sardinia. Not far from that there is the pinewood called Giuanni Corrias where there is an area appreciated as a break place.
ARCHAEOLOGY The volcanic nature of this territory has also influenced the history of Pau. The presence of important workshops for the obsidian manufacture has allowed ancient people to settle permanently in the area and to dedicate themselves not only to the obsidian working but also to agriculture and sheep farming. There are many obsidian deposits: Conca e Cervu, Sennixeddu, Perdas Urias, Sa Tellura, Fustiolau and others. After the obsidian period, human settlements decreased as it is testified by rare nuragic traces. Nevertheless, we must remember some nuraghi: Punta Su Nuraxi, Arruinas and Su Castiu. The Roman ruins are more numerous. Among them a place called Sa Tellura that was a fixed passage towards the Acqua Frida plateau, in the territory of Ales. In this area many ceramics finds and Roman tombs were also found.
HISTORY The history of Pau’s origin is deeply connected with the presence of obsidian. This presence has led to a long and important human settlement since the pre-historical age even though it has decreased during the following centuries until Pau followed the common history of all Sardinian villages. During the Middle Ages it belonged to the Curatoria Parte Usellus and of the homonymous diocese whereas in more recent years it was part of Busachi province.
ARCHITECTURE AND ART The parish of Pau, which is dedicated to S. Giorgio martyr, was built at the end of Nineteenth century and then restored on several occasions in the Twenties of Twentieth century. Nevertheless, there is information about this church that dates back from 1341. Structurally its ground plan is that of a Latin cross with a barrel vault. The hut-shaped façade has a double bell gable. Inside there is a stone Font that dates back from XVIII century and other precious objects. Under the rocky walls of Campu Serrau there is the country church dedicated to S. Prisca that is characterised by its hut-shaped façade and three arches. Nearby the pinewood Giuanni Corrias a simulacrum dedicated to Madonna Nera d’Oropa was built. This is a curious contamination of a cult proper of the valleys of Biella. In this simulacrum the faithful set big fragments of obsidian as a token of faith and thanks.
CITY CENTRE The typical portals of the houses testify the traditional architecture in Pau. The Museum of obsidian is very interesting also because it is a unique example all over Sardinia. In this museum there are ancient finds, example of the precious volcanic mineral of different hues and an sculptures exhibition of Karmine Piras unique artist of this kind not only in Sardinia but also all over Italy and Europe. Not far from the museum there is the workshop where many artistic objects made up of obsidian are crafted.
TYPICAL PRODUCTS One of Pau’s traditional elements is the craft of vegetables pickled in oil. The typical pipadra (dried tomatoes), that is a fundamental ingredients for local gastronomy, is also pickled in oil. In the local tradition the recipes of infusions and herb teas of officinal herbs that grow in the area are still very popular. The manufacturing of artistic objects made up of obsidian is spreading all over Sardinia thus making of Pau the symbol of this volcanic mineral.
GASTRONOMY The typical meals of Pau are quite similar to those of the rest of Monte Arci’s territory. We refer to legumes, meat and snails very popular in the whole area. The different kinds of cure meats that are often homemade in accordance to the tradition are particularly tasty. Among them we must remember sa musteba, (loin) su sattizzu (salami), sa grandua (bacon), su prosciuttu (ham), sa pancetta.There are also many meals made up of entrails such as buddisceddas, sa padia, is edrisceddas, sa codra, is trattalias.
CELEBRATIONS AND FAIRS The only important celebration in Pau is that dedicated to S. Prisca that is celebrated in the homonymous country locality where the church is. It occurs from 1st till the 3rd of September and on that occasion the inhabitants go on procession from the village to the church on the first day then they go back to Pau where the celebrations begin.