THE VILLAGE Where the mountains sweetly go down there the village of Villaurbana rises: on one side it looks at Monte Grighine whereas on the other it has Monte Arci. Its territory is rich in pastures, springs, forests and traces of a millenarian history. The ancient Roman road forked into two routes: one was towards the sea and Tharros, while the other was towards the inner part and Forum Traiani. To interpret its name is not simple: according to the tradition the zone where the village rises was chosen by the Roman citizens of Forum Traiani as a holiday place for summer owing to its shadowy woods and fresh springs. As soon as they settled there, they built their villas thus possibly creating the name place Villa Urbana (Villa of the Town). In some medieval documents it is named Villa Albana or Villa Olbana whereas its present name is testified for the first time in Sixteenth century.
TERRITORY Villaurbana is located between Arborea and Alta Marmilla and it looks at the valley of Rio Granaxiu that separated the northern slopes of Monte Arci from the hills of Monte Grighine. Its naturalistic position is therefore very complete: even though they are very different both Monte Arci and Monte Grighine have flora and fauna aspects of great interest. In the territory of Siapiccia, Monte Grighine reaches up to 675 metres in height with Punta Grighine, its highest peak. It is one of the most composite and less explored geological formations of all Sardinia.
Its rugged shapes on the south-western side show a bare landscape with a Mediterranean shrub vegetal mantle not very luxuriant. On the contrary, Monte Arci is luxuriant and covered by vegetation made up of mastic, heath, strawberry tree and other species typical of Mediterranean shrub. The oasis of S’Arangiu Aresti, Su Cruccuri, S’Arroia Eretta, S’Utturu de Su Cadru, Is Aruttas Santas are worth visiting. In these places there are areas for picnics. In the territory of Villaurbana there are also many important springs among which we remember Figu Crabia, S’Utturu e su Cadru, Sa Mitza Mobentina, Mitza e Crannaxiu and Su Cruccuri.
ARCHAEOLOGY All the archaeological fiThere are two small funeral caves (domus de janas) that are typical of the late Neolithic they are quite possibly burial in rocks that have been only slightly modified by men. They are called Sa Rutta ‘e jana (witch’s cave) e Su secretu de sa Conca ‘e s’Omin” (the secret of the human rock). The latter is linked to a popular legend according to which the cave was a prison where unmarried mothers were buried still alive in order to expiate their fault.
On the side of Monte Arci that belongs to Villaurbana an obsidian workshop was found. Furthermore, in this area there are 60 sites that date back from the Nuragic age. Amongst them it is worth mentioning the complexes of Bau Mendula, Modu, Mebas, Turrita, Bidella, Sant’Uanni and Craddaxius where many Giants tombs traces were found.
In the locality called Sa Mizza de is Mobentinas many small statues from the Punic-Phoenix age were found and these discoveries made scholars think of a possible existence of a ceramics factory.
The traces of Roman age are quite numerous too and this is due to the presence of the Roman colony of Iulia Augusta Uselis (the present Usellus) that is not far from Villaurbana.
Among these finds we must remember the ruins of the Roma road that linked Uselis to Forum Traiani, where at the moment there is the village called Fordongianus.
As we have already said, there are traces that testify the human settlement in the pre-Nuragic and Nuragic age. During the Roman age Villaurbana had a great importance. In the Giudicato period (Middle Ages) Villaurbana was part of the district of Curatoria of Simaxis in the Giudicato d’Arborea. It was also quoted in 1228 in the Condaghe di S. Maria di Bonarcado. Afterwards the village, as every part of Sardinia, was affected by the Spanish domination.
ARCHITECTURE AND ART
The parish that is dedicated to S. Margherita was built in 1712 on the ruins of a Romanic set as it is testified by some traces in the piazza.
In the interior there is a very interesting baptistery made of an oval tub on which there are an image of Madonna col Bambino and an image of S. Giovanni Battista sculptured.
Furthermore there are two more churches: one is dedicated to S. Isidoro, patron of farmers, the other is the country church of S. Crispo that, according to a common belief, it was built thanks to a rich wayfarer that there found a treasure he had previously lost.
The architectonic recuperation of some interesting buildings, among which the House that belonged to the Lai family (at present it is the Museum of Bread) allowed the city centre of Villaurbana to regain its ancient characteristics such as the stone external walls and the wide portals. Above all these portals are important for their double function: the aesthetic one and the purpose of letting the carts filled with grain reach the interiors of the houses.
Villaurbana has a particular tradition linked to an ancient art: bread making. In almost every house there is a wood oven where able housewives bake homemade bread.
Among the typical varieties of bread we must remember “civraxiu” and “pani pesau” (in particular“is coccois”) that still are present to celebrate the most important events of the year.
The bread baked during Easter time has many particular shapes as well as that made for marriages. Owing to this tradition the Museum of Bread was born in the patron house that belonged to Lai family. Thanks to this museum Villaurbana is a member of the National track of the “Cities of Bread”.
Another important product of Villaurbana is the extra virgin olive oil produced with the local varieties of olives: bosana, semidana, olieddu and tonda di Cagliari.
This oil has been marked for its genuine quality all over the Italian territory.
Bread is the main food of Villaurbana and it is made by following the traditional recipe. The flour that is obtained from wheat is used not only to make homemade bread but also for many types of pasta making such as malloreddus and fregua. There are also other meals made of wheat flour: one is called simbua currenti (bran stock with extra virgin olive oil) another is called simbua fritta (bran with lard and sausage cubes).
Among meat courses, we must remember the roasts of lamb and piglet. As regards the sweets in Villaurbana there are the same ones as in the other areas of Monte Arci: amarettus, gueffus, padruasa (Easter sweets ) and zippuasa (typical Carnival fritter-like sweets).
CELEBRATIONS AND FAIRS
The patron of Villaurbana is S. Margherita and the celebrations in her honour occur in two different dates: on the 15th of March and on the 20th of July. In May there are the celebrations of S. Isidoro who is the patron of farmers. Another religious celebration occurs on last Sunday of September on the occasion of S. Greca.
In the first week of December there is the fair of homemade bread that is the way through which Villaurbana honours its most important food.