History of the Villa (Pt.1)

middle ages

Villa Maria Pia, now one of the largest and most important monuments of Alghero, brings with it a varied history and somewhat mysterious. The major element of mystery, is undoubtedly an old building that is located in the immediate vicinity of the Villa: the so-called “knight’s tomb” (photo).

foto storia 1

It is a medieval tomb tumulus (buckets. XIV-XVI approx) in Catalan Gothic style, perhaps dedicated to sant Jaume (St. James) and indicated in the collective memory as a “tomb of the general”, “Tomb of the prince” or as already mentioned, “knight’s tomb.” Reached by a spiral staircase, the crypt consists of a plant covered with tholos dome sixth floor and equipped with six ribs that are connected in the keystone all’oculo center (see photo). The gateway to the tholos is cuspidata and has molded jambs.

The mystery of the burial. As some sources indicate, the tomb may have been the burial place of Don Raimbaut de Corbera, Lieutenant General Aragonese Island, died of malaria in 1354, during the siege of Alghero [1]. Another hypothesis suggests that there may be a small tomb built by craftsmen Catalan century to house the remains of the Terrè Jayme Amat, knight of the Order of Santiago and died in 1524. Great personality politics, was first verghiere Alghero (1502), then receiver general of real incomes of the Marquis of Oristano and county Goceano, lieutenant general of the kingdom, and finally the first console Alghero [2]. A third hypothesis stresses that the underground could have hosted the burial, given the small size of a cavity found in the central compartment, the infant grandson of James Jayme Amat i Terrè [3].

foto storia 2

After the Middle Ages, to reach new historical information related to the area consisting of Maria Pia must get ahead of three centuries; more precisely, in the 1850s, when some documents describing the territory as marshy, unhealthy, unhealthy and totally unsuitable for cultivation.

It should be emphasized that the name ‘Maria Pia’ to designate that territory would come only later, in honor of the homonymous princess (1934). In the nineteenth century the area was called ‘Cuguttu’, topographical word from uncertain significance with which commonly indicated the area lapped by the waters of the pond Calich and crossed by a long dirt road that connected Alghero Porto Conte (the current Viale Tore Burruni).

foto storia 3

On this date the city of Alghero, considering the unhealthy conditions in which Cuguttu, designs the redevelopment. To do so, leaves part of the territory to the administration of the Navy – which in recent years depend on the penal – with the express condition to do so cultivate the condemned. It is believed, in particular, that the draining of the pond will cause Cuguttu

“Immense benefit to the city of Alghero with termination, in whole or in part, of the miasma exhaled from the pond and corrupt the air nearby, bringing cultivation to new lands and fertile” [4].

After the first land reclamation, s’impiantano orchards, olive groves and crops to be irrigated by wells and canals. Originally, the extension of the colony is about 150 hectares, used almost exclusively for mixed agro-pastoral activities. The inmates live in a building that also houses the local offices and apartments for the prison guards (now Villa). Nearby, there are the stables and storage for tools (existing bungalows). The facilities and services are designed for a prison population of about 70 inmates (chosen among the 700 of the House Criminal Alghero) [5].

foto storia 4

In the early years of the twentieth century the territory of Cuguttu get to know a slow decline. In a November 1918 article in the journal “The Streets of Italy”, published by the Italian Touring Club (photo) dissects the issue of agricultural penal colonies for the retraining of Sardinia, about Cuguttu says:

“After 54 years of operation, the budget amount is: 60-70 employees (inmates who produce half of free peasants), only half of the available land in the works and put a hypothetical income of 2700 pounds. So anything relevant. “[5]

It’s no wonder that reading the reports, twelve years later, in 1930, the company no longer define florida and engulfed in a state of extreme backwardness.

Continue in History of the Villa (second part).


[1] Fois Massimiliano and Raffaele Sari Cocoon, Another Alghero, Alghero, Overview Publishing 2008, page 44

[2] Idem, pp.45-46

[3] Ibid, p.47

[4] Municipal Historical Archives of Alghero, Public Hygiene, Sub-Prefect of the Letter to the Mayor of Alghero, Fasc.8. Cfr. Also the resolution of the City Council 187 reg. # 23, # 102 resolution and still fasc.6-7-8-9 relating to land reclamation in the region Cuguttu.

[5] The attempts of internal colonization in Sardinia along the agricultural penal colonies, “The Streets of Italy”, the Italian Touring Club, Year II – 11, 1918. A description of the November issue of the magazine is available on the website of Sardinia Digital Library.