The Aymerich Castle in Laconi lies among exotic plants and the local Mediterranean scrub, nestled in the naturalistic park which bears the same name.
It’s a rare lush corner in Sardinia, a sun-hardened region where only a few villages can boast plenty of water all year round.
The Aymerich Castle rises on a 500- meters calcareous hill which once belonged to the district governed by the Judges of Arborea. In this ancient time, the village was still under the name of Villa de Lacon, a homage to the noble family which had here huge estates and business interests.
Today we can admire only the ruins of the ancient castle, but it doesn’t need to be a good eye to easily identify the several buildings which were parts of the “big picture”.
The oldest building is a large room with a rectangular base, perhaps a tower, surrounded by a portico with a long gothic-catalan style gallery of windows and an entrance arch overlooking a wide courtyard.
Originally, the castle was to be on three levels; its style is surely Romanesque. Right under the vault, you can still see an inscription on which you read of the presence of a door and a date, 1503. The inscription, however, has not yet been deciphered and, given the many property restorations, we can infer it was part of the stones collected from nearby construction sites.
From the inner courtyard, you can admire the ruins of two buildings dated back to the XVII century.
An external staircase leads to a room on the upper floor that looks directly into the sky, as the ceiling is now destroyed.
De Sena, Castelvì and Aymerich: the noble families of Laconi
The story of Laconi, a village located in the province of Oristano is pretty ancient and sees three noble families alternate: De Sena, Castelvì and Aymerich.
Don Ignacio III Aymerich y Brancifort was the first Marquese of Laconi of the Aymerich’s Family. Much loved by the country population, he was acclaimed viceroy – an offer he refused – after the 1794 riots, when the protesters in Cagliari expelled Vicerè Balbiano and all the Piedmontese bureaucrats from Sardinia in the furious days later called Sa Die de sa Sardigna.
It was with Don Ignacio V that the story of Laconi took a radical turn: he struggled for the administrative unification of Sardinia to the other peninsular Royal States and enhanced silk production, raising silkworms in a designated room of the Castle, known as “the silkworms room”.
Moreover, he introduced the threshing machines in town, radically transforming the farmers’ work who until then, worked aided by oxen or horses.
After a devastating fire destroyed the castle, Don Ignacio V committed the family building’s construction to Gaetano Cima, a well-respected architect in Cagliari who had already built some impressive monumental buildings, as San Giovanni di Dio Hospital and Riva Elementary School
The Natural Park: an exotic corner beside the Aymerich Castel
Before the building construction started, Don Ignacio V asked Gaetano Cima to reproduce a sumptuous garden, like those he had the chance to see when visiting France and Spain: the outcome was a park when local flora and exotic plants still live together today, after centuries, in perfect harmony. Closed to the Mediterranean scrub it’s easy to see a Lebanon Cedar, Corsican Pine or a Bull Bay Magnolia.
As if it wasn’t enough, this enchanted corner is embellished by the Museo delle Statue menhir, which gathers the richest collection of Sardinia pre-historical statues, starting from the Perdas Fittas ( simple or anthropomorphic stones) dated back to the III millennium b. C.
Have you ever been to Laconi?
If you still don’t know the village and the Park, it’s time to pay a visit.
Photo Credits: courtesy of ArcheoFoto Sardegna – Nicola Castangia – Maurizio Cossu