I find that courtyards are really fascinating places. I say this thinking about the typical Sardinian houses: the front of the buildings facing the main street and the yard open at the back. This snug location seems to protect the life going on there. In spite of its messy urban development, in Olbia, too, it’s possible to find some traditional courtyards, hidden to a stranger’s gaze. And for me it’s impossible not to remember the time I spent in my grandparents’ courtyard. Throughout spring and summer the afternoon life was there. In a cool shadow provided by the house itself, we played while our aunts attended to their business, sewing or embroidering. Big fern plants surrounded little chairs and tables. In the afternoon the neighbours would come to visit and spent some time together. I’m aware that these memories tell us about a time that is now probably gone, but I know for sure that there are plenty of little towns in Sardinia where you can still find children playing in these open spaces in the back of the house, while their grandparents chat away. And I have noticed that in these courtyards, the ones still being used and these I remeber from my childhood, there are the same old-fashioned flowers.
One of these is the Calla lily, with its beautiful white flower, usually planted near the well, another is Maule’s quince with its cascading pink flowers. You could find little areas, marked out with tiles, where parsley and basil are grown to provide herbs for fresh tomatoe sauce.
If there is enough room, some Lemon trees, or Quince and Medlar ones. Humble trees for poor courtyards with a hidden grace.