From Sarcidano to Marmilla: here is Gesturi, a place of meditation where the lay brother Blessed Nicola was born, around whom a halo of “prodigious” veneration remains. A humble beggar, who lived between 1882 and 1958, he was beatified in 1999 by Pope John Paul II. He is still much loved by the faithful who recognise his goodness and miraculous abilities. From his modest home, an itinerary begins through the narrow streets to traditional dwellings, ancient churches and rural sanctuaries. The oasis of Giara (sa Jara Manna) is a backdrop for the call to meditation: this upland plateau, where time has stood still, is a “natural museum” with botanical species and typical fauna, where man has left many traces of his passing, including the “father of all nuraghes”, Bruncu Madugui.
An enchanting landscape where time has stood still, Nuragic legacy and intense devotion; this is how to best describe Gesturi, the northernmost town in the Marmilla area with over a thousand inhabitants. Its territory partially occupies Giara, a 600-metre-high plateau that was once an imposing volcano and is now an unspoilt oasis that is unparalleled in the Mediterranean. Here, plants and animals live in symbiosis: a "natural museum" with a thick blanket of botanical species, flowers and rare plants that have adapted to the climate and territory.
It receives water from Is Paulis, enormous wells that are up to four metres deep. All around are valleys overlooked by Mediterranean scrub and hills covered in olive groves and vineyards, from which quality olive oil and wine are obtained. Meanwhile, along the plateau's rocky ridges there are oak woods and poplars that give way to cork oak woods on the summit; almost all of these trees are "crooked", bent over by the force of the winds that blow here.
This wild and beautiful place is home to ducks, woodcocks, jay birds, hares and in particular, Giara horses. This is a protected breed whose origins are shrouded in mystery and there are about 500 living here in small groups. On the plateau, rocky elevations interrupt the generally flat landscape. All around are the ruins of what man has left behind over 3,500 years, including the "father of all nuraghes", the proto-nuraghe Bruncu Madugui. There are thirty archaeological sites here, including statue menhirs and the Domus de Janas in Sa Ucca ‘e Su Paui, the Giants' Tomb, the nuraghes of Pranu ‘e Mendula and the Punic and Roman villages of Tana and Tupp’e Turri.
Gesturi is a popular destination for pilgrimages thanks Blessed Nicola (1882-1958); beatified by Pope John Paul II, he once lived in a modest house in the small town, which is now a museum. The itinerary leads from here, through narrow streets lined with houses with portals and archivolted verandas, to ancient churches and rural sanctuaries. Devotion is expressed in six religious buildings - in the centre is the soaring, 30-metre-high bell tower of the Parish Church of Santa Teresa d’Avila (1607), whose feast day falls in mid-October. On the outskirts is the Church of Santa Barbara, the oldest in the town (1473) and just outside the municipality, the Church of Madonna del Rosario (17th century), home to Is Cunfrarius Biancus, the Whitefriars who tend to Our Lady during Holy Week. Meanwhile, tending to Jesus is the role of the Brothers of the Holy Sepulchre, who reside in the small Church of Santa Maria Egiziaca, an unusual example thanks to its architecture and "dressed statues". Four kilometres from the village, nestled in a forest of centuries-old trees, is the Church of Madonna d’Itria (1620), who has been celebrated on the first day of Pentecost perhaps since Byzantine times. Along with these celebrations, there is also a lay Sheep Festival but the most heartfelt festivity is the one for the Blessed Nicola with two days of intense celebrations.