Comune di Selargius
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Ancient portals

Walking around the streets of Selargius historic center, it’s still possible to admire the ancient portals typical of the houses of the Campidano region, also known as “Campidanese houses”.

If you are lucky enough to find a well preserved house and with the front entrance open, it’s possible to notice the high contrast between the simple exterior of the façade and the inside of the house, with the loggia, the typical exterior covered corridor (in Sardinian “sa lolla”), designed around a central courtyard with citrus plants, aromatic herbs and flowers.

We can picture in the past the women of the family spending their time seating in this courtyard under the shadow of the loggia, weaving and knitting, children playing around and the men of the family coming back home at the end of a hard working day through the portal with their horse or donkey-drawn carriage.

The courtyard was the center of the family life, connecting the several rooms of the house which all faced the central court and protecting the interior spaces from the summer heat.

The Campidanese houses were built according to the typical ancient tradition of the Mediterranean architecture, with the use of an adobe brick called “su ladiri”. These bricks, named from the Latin later, were prepared by mixing mud material and straw and then sun-dried. Sometimes the Owner of the house prepared the bricks by himself to expand the house to accommodate his growing family. This “ladiri” mudbrick offered excellent thermal and acoustic properties. The mudbricks main limitation was the limited structural properties and, as a result of this, most of Campidanese houses are low buildings with only one or two floors, with the ground floor sometimes reinforced with stone.

The exterior of the houses is typically sober and simple, limited to the windows and an entrance portal which is usually a round arch decorated with a double door and two door knocks. One of the few and simple decorative patterns of the façade is built by inserting exposed mudbricks to underline the curve of the arch. This is visible in the house located in via Roma 58. Sometimes the mudbricks on the portal are covered with plaster, like in the house in via Sant’ Olimpia 31, or replaced by stone, usually the same stone of the arched portal, like in the buildings of via Dante 2 or via Sant’ Olimpia 19 where the same stone decoration is used around the windows. The house in via d’Azeglio 6 has an interesting and peculiar design: a lowered segmental arch built with mudbricks and side pillars cut to increase the opening.

Many street portals have decorative elements on the keystone of the arch, like in the house of the Collu family in via San Giuliano 7, decorated with mudbricks that emphasize the other elements of the structural design. The arch is supported by two stone pillars and the underside of the portal is decorated with a brick molding. The entrance of the San Giuliano church, located in the adjacent via San Nicolo’, shows also decorations in the keystone of the arch portal. The portal dates back to the XVII century, decorated with a rosette carved into the keystone and figures of foliage in the capital of the pillars. The top cornice of the entrance is decorated with a cross and stone carved with baroque motives.

The Baroque style (from late 1600 to early 1700) is visible also in other portals, for example in via Dante 33, in Melvin Jones square, in via Canonico Putzu 1 where the crown of the arch is decorated with the typical curvilinear geometries of the Baroque.

The style of the early 1900 is visible in the house in via Dante 15-17 and in via Roma 63. The house in via Roma 63 still follows the classic structure of the Campidanese houses and the exterior has just some simple flower decorations. The house in via Dante 15-17 instead is more a small mansion, a good example of a transitional architecture. The structure is made with stone, the façade has balconies and a small portal with a three-pointed arch. Both the arch and the windows are decorated with flower motives typical of the Liberty style, which flourished in Italy at the beginning of the XX century.

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