In Sardinia, Saint Valentine is su santu coiadori, the ‘saint who marries’. The only church on the island dedicated to the protector of lovers is in Sadali, a picturesque town with medieval origins and agro-pastoral traditions in the historical region of Barbagia di Seulo, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and a way station for the Trenino Verde. The village celebrates its patron saint three times a year: on the ‘classic’ date of 14th February, then on 8th May and 6th October. The devotion derives from a legend - a vagabond came carrying a statue of the saint, stopping in Sadali in front of a waterfall. Upon resuming his journey, despite all his efforts, he was unable to budge the statue. The people of Sadali jealously guarded the simulacrum, even erecting a ‘temple’ dedicated to the saint. From the parish church, the spectacle of nature perpetually flowing in front of this place of worship took its name - the Cascata di San Valentino, as the only waterfall on the island to flow within a town. Indeed, according to the canon and historian Flavio Cocco, who lived throughout the first half of the 20th century, it was the only such example in all of Europe.
The evocative waterfall seems to have been made especially for a visit on the most romantic day of the year to this pilgrim destination who have come here time immemorial to implore the saint to grant them the blessing of finding a companion. Powered by the wellhead Funtana Manna that ensures a cool climate all year round, its waters jump seven metres along a green rocky ridge. The flow ends, like that of the countless sources in Sadali, within sa Ucca Manna, an underground ravine, equipped with a stone access path. The stream flows through the ‘large mouth’ for 150 metres before flowing out into the lower part of the town, stretching out across the slope of the plateau known as su Taccu, a reservoir of groundwater that feeds a myriad of springs. During the feudal age, water power was used to operate various mills that dotted the countryside, one of which is located next to the rapid. Rising up to a great height before it is the bell tower of the San Valentino Martire parish church, which was added in the mid-20th century to a historical building. The initial layout from the late Byzantine with Romanesque influences (9th-10th century) was revisited firstly at the end of the 16th century in Gothic-Aragonese forms then again in the Savoy era. Other churches of Sadali are dedicated to Santì’Anna, built around the year 1000, Santa Maria, Sant’Elena Imperatrice and Sant’Antonio Abate. To be admired in the historical centre is the 19th-century house-museum sa Omu e’ tzia Cramella, with original furniture and instruments. To stroll through in the surrounds of the village are woods of holm oaks, oaks, cork oaks and Mediterranean scrub, in an explosion of colours. The Flumendosa adds further charm to the ‘water landscape’, as the emblem of su Stampu e’ su Turrunu, on the border between Seulo, a unique karst phenomenon: a stream, swallowed by a hole in the ground, re-emerges many metres below a cave with a waterfall that forms a pond. The route to reach it, within the Addolì forest, passes through another wonder of nature, the is Janas caves which, according to legend, are home to three fairies. To visit within these grottos are six rooms composed of stalagmites and stalactites that unite in columns, ochre-coloured dripstone and marble drapery formations. These are the most famous of around forty caves scattered throughout the Sadali territory, inhabited since Neolithic times and again in the Bronze Age, as evidenced by Domus de Janas, the Nuraghe and Tombs of Giants.