Sometimes you wake up and it is just another morning but, somewhere deep inside you, you feel a strange sense of anticipation, as if you are on the brink of solving a great mystery; or setting out on a thrilling adventure. That is how I felt last Saturday as I parted the curtains and stared out of our window at the familiar, serene scene. It was a blustery, sunny day with a flimsy haze that dulled the harsh brightness of the winter sun. I opened the window and sensed that a subtle change had taken place. There was a languid warmth in the air, a promise of things to come, a hint of spring.
Before too long we were out, driving to the squat tower at Nadur that crowns the hill on our horizon. It is the first thing that we see every morning and the last thing that we see, silhouetted against the sky, when the sun sets behind it. The wind was howling up there, blowing and heaving in every direction. We did not stay long. I felt a bit like the wind – restless and just as unshackled and unbound.
So we drove some more to a sign that said Ghemieri (which is a mouthful to pronounce, I know, but it sounds very much like emery) and followed a winding road that ended up in front of a barred gate.
Carved in stone on the archway was a coat of arms, eroded by the winds of countless winters. Here was my mystery. All I needed was to get beyond the gate. It seemed rusty and old, but it would not budge. Conveniently, a small hole in the metal frame let me look through. But all I could see were the leaves and branches of an olive tree, all bent and gnarled.
I would not give up. We walked around and came to a little lane that said ‘Private’, but a friendly farmer assured us that we could go and take a little walk.
I led the way, prepared for almost anything. Then I saw it, lurking in the trees – a chapel, flanked on either side by a building the colour of spilt blood. A tower; a blood-red house and a little church. How mysterious, I thought, how utterly fascinating.
My mind was soon a-buzz with unwritten stories. This place had to be old. I know of only one period in our history when buildings were painted in such bright colours – during the era of the Knights of St John. Here was a building that was at least 300 years old ... maybe more – all within a five mile radius from our house and I had never seen it before.
It was such a peaceful, scenic spot, and the view was incredible. I could see why one of those knights of old would want to build his country abode there.
We re-traced our steps, walking past the padlocked gate again and down a sinuous country road. Some of my restlessness was gone. The serenity of the place was soothing but very much alive, with birds and blossoms and even the elusive chamomile - which I had not seen for a number of years.
It was the perfect end to a morning of billowing breezes, small discoveries and little wonders.
Homeward bound, we listened to this. Some virtual digging informed me that the mysterious red house at Ghemieri is known as Palazzo Gomerino and it flanks the church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and St Anthony the Abbott. And although I could probably write some more, I will stop here. Until next time friends …
Location: Palazzo Gomerino and the Church of the Immaculate Conception & St Anthony the Abbott, Ghemieri, L/O Rabat, February 2013