North Sardinia is teeming with beautiful churches, basilicas and abbeys.
In the municipality of Ittiri we find one of the most striking: the Abbey of Our Lady of Paulis, dating back to the Middle Ages and inhabited, at the time, by Cistercian monks.
Its ancient vestiges are set in a pleasant landscape of incredible beauty, among rolling hills and rocky reliefs.
Today, Salude&Trigu takes you on a discovery of the history of the abbey, the territory of Ittiri and the legends that hover around the building.
Historical background on the Abbey of Our Lady of Paulis in Ittiri
Built around 1200, the Abbey of Our Lady of Paulis in Ittiri remained operational with its monastic community for millennia.
It was built through a donation by the King of Torres Comita II to monks of the Benedictine Cistercian order, and inhabited by monks until the late Middle Ages (c. 1400).
The walls, still clearly visible in the perimeter, are made of limestone and trace the building style typical of the Cistercian masters at the time working on the island.
Today, the abbey of Ittiri stands as an evocative ruin that leaves room for imagination, bringing back to life the atmosphere, evocative, of medieval monasteries.
Surrounding the building are relics of the cloister and monastery rooms, both attached to the abbey and not far from the main building.
The structure of the abbey was. a cross commissa, consisting of 3 naves divided by arches supported by pillars. The transept housed the apse and two chapels, positioned on the right and left, respectively.
The landscape context of Our Lady of Paulis.
The Abbey of Our Lady of Paulis stands in a magical natural setting. It is surrounded by green hills, reliefs made of sedimentary rock and which we often find in the landscapes of northern Sardinia.
It is located along the route of an ancient Roman road called "s'istrada de sos Padres," that is, "the monks' road," because it connected the abbey of Ittiri to that of Santa Maria di Corte, in Sindia.
The name "Paulis," however , referring to the abbey, comes from that of the marshy area in which it was built, known as Paludis or Padulis.
Abbey legend: "the white monk"
A fascinating legend gravitates around the abbey. It is said that the monks who inhabited it practiced magic and alchemy. Thus, over the centuries, the story spread that immense riches were to be found within the monastery, properly secreted.
Like other similar ones, the legend attracted several "treasure hunters," yet none of them, ever, found treasures in the abbey. From this story, however, grew another legend, equally fascinating.
According to popular rumor, within the walls of Our Lady of Paulis, in Ittiri, the ghosts of the monks left behind to protect the infamous treasure, which was said to be kept in the dungeon, roam.
Some legends, it is known, find their origin in historical reality. In fact, Father Piero Cau, called "su padre biancu" (the white monk) by everyone because of the color of his habit, lived in the abbey. Father Cau was murdered in 1958 and was found, after much searching, at the bottom of a well.
From history comes history and so, to this day, Father Cau is still said to be there, in ghostly guise, protecting the treasures of the abbey.