Showing up for the eighth grade exam in traditional Sardinian dress would not have been new on the island, but Fiona Saddi lives in Bareggio, in the province of Milan, and wanted to impress her teachers by wearing something unique, which she left the commission in awe.

Nobody in the family knew anything until a few days before, but Fiona had already organized everything. With the complicity of her grandmother and a family friend, she got the dress and all the accessories, including some jewellery.

His bond with the island is largely due to his grandparents: Franco Saddi, originally from Pirri, and Rosa Orbai, from Pula. Both emigrants, they met in Lombardy. They had three children and among them Ivano, Fiona's father. His mother Teresa is instead half Abruzzo and half English. But the whole family is involved in the activities of the Sardinian cultural association "Amedeo Nazzari" of Bareggio and Cornaredo. «Being the son of the president - says Ivano - I cannot be part of the Board but I have always worked behind the scenes, like now because we are organizing our annual party, in the area of via Concordia in Bareggio, which begins on July 1st and continues for every Saturday of the month".

Whose idea was it for Fiona's traditional dress?

«It was his, the thing started quietly, his mother and I learned that everything was already organized. Then, since you can bring someone to the exam as a guest, she chose her grandparents. And she asked her grandmother if she could wear the Sardinian dress. My mother, of course, was delighted. I have to say, however, there was also the "hand" of another person».


«Anna Deias is in charge of the folk group of our club. For years he has held together a nice group of people who dance Sardinian dances and make our traditions known to the Lombards but not only. With her Fiona prepared herself in the best possible way because she also performed a Sardinian dance after the exam together with a dancer, Giorgio D'Angelo, by now we can say that she is Sardinian by adoption even if she is Calabrian ».

Fiona Saddi (foto concessa dalla famiglia)
Fiona Saddi (foto concessa dalla famiglia)
Fiona Saddi (foto concessa dalla famiglia)

What did you think when you learned of your daughter's choice?

«It was wonderful because since she was little we have always tried to pass on to her and her brother Enea the importance and values of our roots. What I basically got from my parents. And despite being born in Lombardy, I really feel Sardinian».

Great emotion also for mother Teresa.

“Yes, I was very tense. We didn't enter the exam because Fiona had chosen her grandparents but we waited outside. And then even the principal of the school approached her to congratulate her».

Were you surprised by your daughter's decision?

«In reality, not that much because since she was very small we have always involved her in activities related to the promotion of Sardinian culture. When I learned that she wanted to wear that dress I was really happy. After all, I too, half from Abruzzo and half from England, am very attached to the island. Do you think I speak Sardinian, Campidanese version. I recognize myself in Sardinian traditions, and that's what your father and I then handed down to Fiona and Enea».

Who helped you put on the gown on exam day?

«Grandma also gave her some jewels. The dress, which is by Sarroch, is owned by the Amedeo Nazzari association but my mother-in-law hand-made Pula's apron, “satubdroxia”, and was very keen on the fact that her niece had it».

Fiona was the happiest of all in that classroom of the "Perlasca" comprehensive school in Bareggio.

"I had everything ready. The scholastic part and the part, let's say "extra".

But why the choice of the Sardinian dress?

"Sardinia is the topic I brought to the exam, so showing up with the dress seemed appropriate to me".

And how did the final question go?

"Very good. For physical education I brought Sardinian dance; for music the launeddas; the feast of Sant'Efisio by religion; for Sciences the typical foods of the island; for Art the nuraghes; for History, the Kingdom of Sardinia up to the Unification of Italy; for Geography the Regions with special statute; for Civic education the Sardinian language, and for English my next summer holiday in Sardinia».

What did the professors say?

“They knew nothing, of course, it was a surprise. They didn't know the traditional dress but they repeated to me that mine was a decidedly original choice».

And the grandparents?

«Grandma was crying, I saw her. Maybe even grandfather but I'm not sure».

Fiona Saddi con i genitori Ivano e Teresa (foto concessa dalla famiglia)
Fiona Saddi con i genitori Ivano e Teresa (foto concessa dalla famiglia)
Fiona Saddi con i genitori Ivano e Teresa (foto concessa dalla famiglia)

Can you dance the island dance?

«In this period I have learned something and I would like to continue if school doesn't commit me too much. They told me I'm good at Su ballu cabillu, we'll see later, I can always improve by continuing to attend the folk group».

Do you speak Sardinian?

"No, but I understand."

What will you do in September?

«I will attend a school with a tourist-sports orientation».

At this point you will also go to the diploma with a traditional dress…

«Why not, the same situation could be reproduced, it gave me great emotions».

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