On January 16th huge bonfires are lit all over Sardinia in honour of Sant’Antonio Abate, to represent his descent into hell to bring fire to earth. Throughout the night there is the flow of traditional music and dance. Also San Salvatore barefoot running is an intriguing event and one of the oldest festivals of Sardinia. It takes place on the first Saturday of September; at dawn, a group of around a thousand barefoot young men wearing white robes gather to carry the simulacram of San Salvatore between churches.
Traditional wedding in Selargius - during the second week of September there is a celebration of the traditional Sardinian wedding where real couples get married and the whole town takes part in wearing traditional costume. The streets are decorated with flowers and there is cake and drinks for everyone.
Sa Sartigilia – this is an equestrian tournament held in Oristano. It is one of the most impressive and choreographed carnivals which selects the figure of Su Componidori, the horseman who wears the mask of a mysterious God to pierce the star. The atmosphere is charged with rolling drums and cheering crowds.
Many islanders are still employed in the agricultural industry and there are numerous fairs which celebrate the quality of Sardinia’s produce, from the artichoke festival in Uri in March to the cherries festival in the small village of Belvi in June. There is also the three-day chestnut festival in Aritzo in October and the fish festival in Santa Teresa Gallura in July which marks the rebellion of 1802 and celebrates the sea’s offerings.
A history of Sardinia
Sardinia is one of the most ancient land masses in Europe, with evidence of civilization since prehistory, dating back to the Palaeolithic period, with permanent settlements appearing in the Neolithic age around 6000 BC. This population, mainly pastoral, was known as the Nuragic people and its traditions have been maintained right up to the present day. Sardinia went to Rome in the First Punic War and, with the fall of the Roman Empire, was subjected to heavy raiding by pirates which is why most of the main Sardinian cities are inland.
Four kingdoms cropped up during the Middle Ages but were rapidly colonized by Pisa and Genoa. Then, by the end of the 14th century, Spain seized Sardinia and the island remained out of mainstream history for 400 years and then passed into the hands of the Austrians. In 1861, after Italy’s wars of independence, Sardinia was transformed into an Italian state. With the unification of Italy, Sardinia became one of the twenty Italian regions, with a special statue of autonomy.