Hi everyone! First off, HUUUGE apologies for our lackadaisical posting. Getting into a regular routine has proved to be much more difficult when you’re not living in the mountains… With less distractions…
We spent the 9-12th of this month with family friends in Oristano on the Italian island of Sardegna. Part of the reason we opted to go at this particular time was to witness Sa Sartiglia.
Sartiglia is an equestrian tournament that has been going on in Oristano for the past 500 years. Things kick off on on Carnival Sunday, Monday is reserved for Sartigliedda, which is a youth version of Sartiglia, and everything wraps up on Mardi Gras. The tournaments on Sunday and Tuesday are organized and participated in by the farmers’ and carpenters’ collectives, respectively. This gives some variation to each day, with Sunday riders wearing masks made of clay, while Tuesday riders wear-of course- wooden ones.
There’s a parade, a competition to skewer a tin star with a sword while galloping at full speed, and an acrobatics competition wherein three riders from the same “team” try to impress the crowds, also while galloping at full speed. Oh yeah, this all goes on in the middle of town. Streets are blocked off, thousands of pounds of sand are spread on the roads, and the majority of stores close up shop. The vendors come out in droves, the vernaccia flows freely, and everyone has a rip-roaring good time.
Most importantly! There’s a dude (or dudette) named the Componidori who is basically transformed into a demigod for the duration of the festival. There is an extended dressing ceremony wherein the Componidori’s mask is secured with needles (sorry Chum, you’ll have to eat once it’s all over), and they run the show for the whole day. When the Componidori says “Jump!”, you ask “How high?” The Componidori spends a lot of time blessing the crowd, running back and forth, and looking awesome.
Now, to our in-the-field reporting:
We were lucky enough to have friends, heck, family with connections. This meant that before the parade on Sunday we got to go to one of the many stables around town and see the horses and riders getting ready. This also meant we got to eat freely of the awesome offerings put forth by the participants friends and families. Tailgating has nothing on the treats we enjoyed. We felt really lucky to be able to experience this side of the festivities.
After hanging out, watching the horses get their elaborate (hand-made) flower decorations affixed, and enjoying a hearty amount of second breakfast, we made our way to the parade. Being at a parade in a town where you know no one is liable to make a person feel real weird, luckily we were there with warm and welcoming hosts. This made the whole experience much more enjoyable, from saying hi to people our hosts knew, to having things explained as they progressed, it was very nice. The parade started off with folks in elaborate old-fashioned clothes, then the Componidori and his/her two sidekicks, followed by approximately 120 riders. Wowie Zowie!
After watching the grande procession, we made our way through the multitude of vendors. We saw participants catch starts on swords (from the Jumbotron), enjoyed Oristano-style ceramics, ate delicious paninis, ate delicious Oristano rice, ate delicious nougat, ate delicious oranges… It was all very well. By the time we had sufficiently stuffed our bellies, with a little cafe on top, we opted to head home to watch the acrobatics portion. The rest of the day was spent on the couch, more-or-less sleeping, blissfully full of delicious food and fond memories.
Here are some other crazy things that we witnessed. (After all, what good is a festival if you can’t go a little Teletubby rowdy?)
Here’s some live footage from this year’s activities: