How Bosa became Deriu

Bosa is a delightful town on the west coast of Sardinia. I’d seen pictures and already half-fallen in love with its gorgeous pastel-painted houses lining the banks of the River Temo. When we arrived there, it didn’t disappoint. Bosa has a white-sand beach and vibrant marina, mediaeval cobbled streets and colourful markets. The old quarter is dominated by the rather haunting Castello dei Malaspino. The town seemed to have everything a novelist might want…

Originally founded by the Phoenicians, Bosa has strong artisan traditions of gold-filigree jewellery and lace-making and as we wandered the narrow cobblestone streets we saw women sitting outside their houses making lace just as they have done for centuries. There was a festa (there often is, apparently) and the old buildings were festooned with bunting and swathed with decorative fabric. I felt as though we had stepped into another world.

We walked through the olive groves and past scented blue jasmine up the winding stone steps to the castle, which offers spectacular views of the church of San Pietro, the Temo river valley and the red roofs of the Sa Costa quarter. And discovered something special… Within the tiny fourteenth century Nostra Signora di Regnos Altos chapel were a restored cycle of Catalan school frescoes – unexpected, vivid and truly beautiful to behold. It was a bit of a magical moment, to be honest.

There was no theatre in Bosa, which was great because it meant I could make one up. Easy peasy. Find the right kind of old building with peeling paintwork and a touch of faded glamour (probably an old chapel) shut the eyes, open the notebook and ecco! My Little Theatre by the Sea.

At Bosa’s exhibition centre of Casa Deriu we found an authentic reconstruction of a 1920s stylish Italian apartment included a cherry and olive wood parquet floor, majolica tiles from Ravenna, a frescoed vaulted ceiling and locally made lace curtains. It was so perfect. Aha, I thought. I name this town Deriu – and it is mine….

NB I wrote this article in reply to everyone who has asked me where they can find my fictional town of Deriu which features in Little Theatre by the Sea. It’s wonderful to be inspired by a real town such as Bosa in Sardinia, but hard to make it fit my story unless I ‘make it my own’. I hope this answers the question!


© Rosanna Ley
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