Sartiglia is a traditional equestrian event that takes place annually in Oristano, a charming city located in the west of Sardinia. It is one of the most important events in the region, and a fascinating cultural experience that showcases the island's rich history and traditions.
The Sartiglia takes place on the last Sunday and Tuesday before Lent, usually in February or March, and is a celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The event has been around for centuries and is deeply rooted in the local culture. It combines elements of pagan and Christian traditions, and involves horse-riding, costumes, and music.
The highlight of the Sartiglia is the jousting tournament, which sees masked and costumed horse-riders galloping down the streets of Oristano, trying to spear a small silver star that is attached to a hanging effigy. The riders must be skilled and precise, as the star is very small and the effigy swings from side to side, making it a challenging target.
The jousting tournament is not only a display of horsemanship and bravery but also a symbolic representation of the struggle between good and evil. The effigy represents the devil, and the silver star represents the sun, which brings light and warmth back to the world after the darkness of winter.
Apart from the jousting tournament, the Sartiglia also includes other events, such as parades, music performances, and traditional dances. The city of Oristano is transformed into a vibrant and colorful stage, where locals and visitors alike can enjoy the festive atmosphere and immerse themselves in the island's unique culture.
When you arrive in Sardinia, the Sartiglia is an event that should not be missed. It is a fascinating and unforgettable experience that will give you a glimpse into the island's rich history and traditions.
The presepe is one of the most traditional symbols of the season, its history rooted deeply in that of Italian culture. Its creation is a ritual so entrenched in people’s habits that many can’t renounce to it, even in today’s day and age, when celebrations have become more modern.
A presepe is a scene of the stable where Jesus was born, complete with figurines to represent Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the Wise Men (to be added on the 6th of January), shepherds and animals. Depending on the size, the scene may include buildings for an entire village. Many households around the country will have their own, unique presepe. Most towns will also come together to build a presepe on a larger scale for everyone to see.
The "Presepe a grandezza naturale" is the one that can be found in Stintino. Every year the community comes together to assemble the life size figures and buildings. A stroll through the town at this time of year can be rather intriguing, as you'll find a mirage of characters embedded in to the town's atmosphere, as if they were really real.
The country is so attached to this tradition, sometimes it even manages to argue about its name: debates about the correct word to use, presepe or presepio, have been going on since it can be remembered. Truth is, both forms are correct because they come from Latin, which accepted both praesepium and praesepe, although presepe is probably the most used today.
While some may see the presepe simply as a tradition, it is actually very close to a fully developed form of art. Proof of its importance in Italy can be seen in the numerous markets and exhibitions set up for it, some coming alive with real people impersonating the main characters of the scene.
Traditionally Italians take out their presepe from its boxes on December 8th. Some people start to build it on that day, others just modify an existing set and others still simply spray a bit of artificial snow and musk for decoration. No matter the size and the ornaments choosen, you’ll find a presepe in the home of almost all Italian Catholics.