The Antonio Gramsci house is in the historic centre of Ghilarza, a city of about 4,500 residents in the mid-valley of the Tirso River in the Oristano Province, in the historic and geographic sub-region of Guilcer.
Antonio Gramsci lived here from the age of 7 to 20 years, 1898 to 1911. He was born in Ales, in the Province of Cagliari, on 22 January 1891. After a few months, his family moved to Sorgono and then to Ghilarza, the town his mother, Peppina Marcias, was from. After elementary school, from 1905 to 1911, Antonio attended first the junior secondary school at Santu Lussurgiu, then the senior secondary school in Cagliari.
He would return home often, from Santu Lussurgiu every Sunday and less frequently from Cagliari. He always spent his summers at Ghilarza. At age 20, in the autumn of 1911, he left for Turin, where he had been awarded a scholarship that allowed him to attend the University, where he enrolled in the Faculty of Letters. He returned again to Ghilarza during the summers of 1912 and 1913, and then for two short visits in 1920 and 1924. From his move to Turin until the end of his life – he died at 46 – he lived in furnished rooms, hotels, hospitals, pensions and jail cells. This house in Ghilarza was the only real home he ever had.
The property was then owned by Grazia Delogu, Antonio’s mother’s unmarried stepsister. During his childhood and adolescence, ten people lived in this house: his aunt Grazia, his father Francesco, his mother Peppina and the seven children: Gennaro, Grazietta, Emma, Antonio, Mario, Teresina and Carlo.
The house was built in the early years of the nineteenth century of basalt, a volcanic rock often used in houses typical of central Sardinia. Of a simple and dignified appearance, it consists of two storeys, with the only decorative element on the front being the balcony and its wrought iron railings.
The interior, which has been well preserved, has 6 bedrooms, 3 on the ground level and 3 on the upper level, and is now used as a museum. The connection between the two storeys is still a stairway in its initial position, and the series of rooms remains almost entirely faithful to their original use as living quarters. In the rear courtyard, which still has its cobblestones with flower beds marked off with stones and tiles, there is a small building called the sa ‘omo ‘e su forru (the oven house).
Renovation measures that were done over time did not much alter the structure of the property, which as a whole has kept its original appearance.
The house, the city of Ghilarza and the surrounding area were, for Antonio Gramsci, places full of memory and affection to which he returned many times with notes of aching homesickness. These environments were described in Letters from Prison and Prison Notebooks or in the records by his early biographers.
Those who are not familiar with these writings will find the reference to the excerpts from the works that recall these places in the Museum.