THE VILLAGE Among the villages of the Park Usellus is the one where the traces of the past are more visible. Roman bridges and roads testify the ancient importance of this Roman colony called Uselis (Colonia Iulia Uselisi). Furthermore there are more traces that testify its role of headquarters of the Curatoria of Parte Usellus during the giudicati age. The village Escovedu is annexed to Usellus.
TERRITORY The territory where Usellus is located penetrates, through the pass of Genna Entu, into the inner valleys of river Flumendosa up to the heart of Mount Gennargentu. The plateau situated nearby the village and that is closed on its north-western side by a Monte Arci wall, dominates all the means of communications that link Marmilla to parte Montis’s zones to the inner zones of Barigadu, Sarcidano and Barbagia. From this position it was possible to control all movements of inner populations of Sardinia called “Civitates Barbariae”. This strategic position is one of the reasons why the Romans chose Usellus as their headquarters. The other reason lies in the fact that here the main mean of communication, “la via Karalis –Turris Libisonis” that linked the South to the North passed.
ARCHAEOLOGY Once again the deposits of obsidian confirm human settlement in this area since the Neolithic age. The areas of Pauli Quaddu and Pauli Arba have obsidian deposits whereas in the area called Santa Lucia there is a workshop trace. In the territory there are also nuragic traces: nuraghi of Truncu Putzu, Tara, Carru, Cauri, Baddau, Fenungu, Nurafà, Pinna, Arai and Stampasia. In Santa Lucia there is also an important archaeological site and at the street edge there are two structures of towers that belonged to a small village. There has been a very important finding of a tomb Motrox’e bois inside of which there was a funerary trousseau. It looks like a giant tomb despite being more complex than giants’ tombs in its structure. There are also many Roman traces such as inscriptions, bronzes, a marvellous bridge, a road that is similar to the one that linked Colonia Iulia Uselis (Roman name of Usellus) to other important places such as Tharros and Forum. Also in Escovedu there are traces that date back from Roman age above all in the area Nuravà where there are rocks and ceramic finds.
HISTORY The history of Usellus is deeply connected with the Roman presence in Sardinia. Since their first settlement, an economic system based on large agricultural estate for the grain production was imposed and owing to its favourable territory conditions Usellus was chosen as headquarters. The very name Usellus derives from Latin Urbsellus that means small town, in juxtaposition of Urbs, Rome thus underlining the importance of this small village of Sardinia as a little Rome. It has been Triumvirate headquarters, then municipium and afterwards colonia Iulia Augusta. The latter juridical condition is also testified by the geographer Tolomeo and in a precious inscription that dates back to 158 A.D. During the Giudicati age Usellus and up to 1100 when the village was destroyed, Usellus was diocese headquarter. During the Aragon period it belonged to Quirra county and then to the marquisate of Centelles and Osorios.
ARCHITECTURE AND ART The importance of the architecture of Usellus is connected with the diocese role he had in the past. The Romanesque church of Santa Reparata was built on previous structures so that now it is possible to see layer of different styles dating back to previous epochs. In the church it is possible to admire some traces of its Romanesque set made of three naves and with an east-faced apse.
Its façade is surmounted by four battlements and it has in the centre a bell gable. Nearby the church there are ancient edifices where there was a rich and variegated market and it was called “Is Cumbessias”.The parish is dedicated to S. Bartolomeo apostle whose name is written in the Latin inscription on the portal’s architrave. Structurally, it has a single nave with barrel vault and rounded arches. On the homonymous plateau there is S. Lucia’s country church that has architectonical elements that date back to Romanesque style. In Escovedu the parish is dedicated to S. Antonio da Padova and it is characterised by a small bell gamble.
CITY CENTRE Besides its religious architecture Usellus shows also examples of civil architecture such as the farmhouses called “lollas” and their magnificent portals that open on cobblestone courts. The ancient country house of Prinzis that dates back to the Eighteenth century is very beautiful and it has been considered a special property by “Ministero dei Beni Culturali ed Ambientali” (Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Environment).
TYPICAL PRODUCTS The typical eno-gastronomic products of Usellus are connected with agro-pastoral activities. We must remember wine, extra virgin olive oil, meat cooked following the local tradition and cheeses. There are also some woodcrafts in the village.
GASTRONOMY As it happens in almost each village of the Park, bread making is one of the most important culinary activity.
As regards the first courses Usellus has different types of pasta such as malloreddus, crucurgionis, fregua and also unique meals as for example su succu ‘e faa (small broad beans dried or fresh, boiled with fresh garlic), sa zuppa de civraxiu (soups made of bread) and is sitzicorrusi (stewed snails). Finally, we must remember the sweets: zippuasa, padruasa, gueffus, biancheddus and gattò.
CELEBRATIONS AND FAIRS On the 15th of May there are celebrations in honour of S. Isidoro, with a procession of decked carts and the lighting of a bonfire. During these celebrations the fair of boiled sheep takes place too. On the 7th of July there is the celebration of S. Elia and the 24th S. Bartolomeo when there is the “exhibition of painting and sculpture” that is opened until S.Lucia’s day, on the first Sunday of September. On this occasion, that occurs in the countryside church, there is a kind of fair in the wood called S’Arroxiu. The 8th of October is the patron’s celebration S. Reparata. In Escovedu, on the 13th of June there is the celebration of S. Antonio da Padova whereas on the 2nd of September there are the celebrations for S. Vito.