IL PAESE Laddove le montagne discendono dolcemente sorge il centro abitato di Villaurbana, che da un lato guarda il Monte Grighine e dall’altro il Monte Arci, in un territorio ricco di pascoli, sorgenti, foreste e tracce di storia millenaria: nel suo territorio, infatti, la vecchia strada romana si biforcava rivolgendosi da una parte verso il mare e il centro di Tharros, dall’altra invece verso l’interno per giungere a Forum Traiani. Interpretare il suo nome non è cosa semplice: secondo la tradizione popolare, la zona dove sorge l’attuale centro abitato venne scelta dai cittadini romani di Forum Traiani come località di villeggiatura per l’estate grazie alla presenza di boschi ombrosi e fresche sorgenti; qui i Romani avrebbero sistemato le loro ville, creando così il toponimo Villa Urbana (Villa della città). Più avanti, in alcuni documenti medievali è indicata ora come Villa Albana, ora come Villa Olbana, ma solo a partire dal XVI secolo appare nella sua attuale dicitura.
IL TERRITORIO Posizionato tra l’Arborea e l’Alta Marmilla, Villaurbana si affaccia sulla vallata del Rio Granaxiu che separa le pendici settentrionali del Monte Arci dai rilievi del Monte Grighine. Questo presuppone già una posizione di estrema considerazione sotto il profilo naturalistico: infatti sia il Monte Arci che il Grighine, pur nella loro diversità, presentano aspetti floristici e faunistici di notevole interesse. Il Grighine, che raggiunge in territorio di Siapiccia l’altezza massima di metri 675 con la vetta Punta Grighine, è una delle formazioni geologiche più complesse e meno esplorate della Sardegna. Le sue forme aspre, nel versante sud-occidentale che appartiene anche al territorio di Villaurbana, presentano un paesaggio brullo con una copertura vegetale a macchia mediterranea non molto rigogliosa. Il Monte Arci, invece, rigoglioso e fitto di vegetazione presenta una vegetazione costituita principalmente da lentisco, erica, corbezzolo e altre specie tipiche della macchia mediterranea. Meritano una visita le oasi di S’Arangiu Aresti, Su Cruccuri, S’Arroia Eretta, S’Utturu de Su Cadru, Is Aruttas Santas dove sorgono, tra le altre cose, anche delle aree attrezzate per pic-nic. Numerose anche le sorgenti presenti nel territorio di Villaurbana tra le quali ricordiamo quelle di Figu Crabia, S’Utturu e su Cadru, Sa Mitza Mobentina, Mitza e Crannaxiu e Su Cruccuri.
ARCHAEOLOGY All the archaeological finds that date back from pre-Nuragic, Nuragic, Punic and Roman ages testify the existence of human settlements since very ancient times. There 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.
HISTORY 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.
CITY CENTRE 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.
TYPICAL PRODUCTS 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.
GASTRONOMY 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.