I first met Pinuccio Sciola at his home in San Sperate, Sardinia, just north of Cagliari about 4 years ago. He was standing in front of a pile of big, rough hands hewn from rock. Sardinian shepherd hands. He giggled when he compared on of them to his own.
Guide Paula Loi wanted me to meet him. As I recall, she left what he did as a surprise.
Sciola, it turns out, is one of Sardinia’s most famous sculptors. His home in San Sperate does not reflect our expectations of remuneration for fame. It is modest. It is surrounded by overgrown paths, citrus trees (the area is famous for them) and, a bit further from the house and workshop, standing stones like ancient menhirs, stones with souls, stones shaped and grooved to allow Pinuccio to access their inner resonance, their sonorousness.
I marveled as Mr. Sciola delicately ran a rock the size of a bar of soap over the top of one of these rocks and an etherial sound emerged.
This is what the Giardino Sonoro, The Sound Garden, is all about. A chorus of humongous rocks, silently awaiting the stimulus of Sciola’s soap-bar.
We spent quite a while with the master, as recounted in Pinuccio Sciola: The Man Who Make Rocks Sing. There’s a video of the man making music on the page.
At the time, none of what we’d seen and experienced was available to the public. You might have had to catch him in a bar and buy him a drink to have access to his little sound garden.
Pinuccio Sciola passed away in 2016, but the garden is open to the public. Here are the opening times (in Italian). If you plan a trip to southern Sardinia, the muraled town of San Sperate should be considered along with a trip to the sound garden. Here are a few pictures from when I visited.
Mr. Sciola told us he was experimenting with the couch. If he could make it look soft and inviting, would it turn out to be soft in the mind of the sitter? Would they check their email while lounging?
Sometimes, mysteries are what you travel for.