Who says that Sardinia is only sun and sea?
Real appreciators of the Island, will know for sure that Sardinia is not only one of the best destinations for Summer holidays but also a fascinating island full of mysteries, magical traditions and religious celebrations ready to be discovered in the winter-spring season.
Carnival is celebrated throughout the island with particular care in small inland towns such as Mamoiada and its Mamuthones, dark masks with animal resemblance, black coal and the rhythmic sound of huge cowbells in a procession so interesting that remains for ever in the heart of the beholder. The origins of these masks are controversial and range from the victory of Sadinians shepherds over the Saracens, to the Dionysian rites of fertility, to of course the nuragic and their Gods.
You must keep an eye on the procession of Boes and Merdules in Ottana, dotted with zoomorphic masks, legacies of pagan cults.
For strong emotions lovers, Oristano offers Sartiglia, a whirlwind of colors for the propitiatory race carried by knights riding their beautiful horses. The star joust starts with a medieval cortege, one of the most fascinating moments of the event.
The first "down" (i.e. a wild ride in the main street, surrounded by the crowd) is up to Su Componidori, the king of the tournament and of the entire town, an androgynous mask, the real star of the party; he must carry off the target (a star suspended along the route) by the tip of his sword, riding at a fast gallop. Spearing the star will give prosperity to the country and a good harvest. For the curious, just after the Sartiglia, will take place the Pariglie, races in which riders in groups of three will attempt to make the figures more and more risky on galloping horses. That is quite a breathtaking show!
Easter is one of the most important religious festivals of the island. The experience is made memorable by processions in various cities.
In Iglesias you could enjoy the procession of white hooded figures that escort at the sound of the Matraccas, traditional wooden instruments, the cross through the streets of the city. The processions are divided in three different days (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), representing the Passion of Christ, Our Lady of Sorrows and the burial of Jesus.
You can not miss either the procession held in Alghero, a wonderful city in Northern Sardinia, with strong Catalan influences: a deep silence broken only by chanting choirs for a unique, sad and engaging ritual, with thousands candles all wrapped in red paper that set aside the dark and deep shades of the night.
Sant'Efisio, has been the patron of the whole Sardinia from 350 years. Representatives of all countries meet in Cagliari for a colorful parade of floats adorned with flowers and drawn by oxen, with the traditional Sardinian costumes to take together the trip with the Saint towards Nora.
It is almost impossible to list the traditions of all Sardinian cities, each with its peculiarities and curiosities, from horse races, to masked processions, from religious festivals to food and wine recurrences. All of them are unique and capable of giving the tourists as the natives’ great emotions with the typical warmth of Sardinia.
Sartiglia: Emmanuele Contini; Mamuthones: Webgol; Processione di Iglesias: Alessandro Spiga