Italy’s Amazing Medieval Festival – Sa Sartiglia

Discover the Magic of Sartiglia in Sardinia. It’s on in February, let’s go.

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Do you want to go back 500 years for a day and participate in a spectacular & unique Carnival event known all over the world, where mysterious horsemen wearing ancient traditional costumes and masks tempt fate with dangerous and spectacular evolutions atop their horses? This happens in the magical, pristine Island of Sardinia, where it seems that time has stood still. We are talking about Sartiglia, and if you go there for the Carnival, you’ll have the chance to eat delicious traditional food and drink exclusive wines.

But what is Sartiglia?

From the last Sunday of Carnevale to the following Tuesday, the city of Oristano in Sardinia takes on a pagan, medieval, mystical feel with “Sa Sartiglia,” a three-day feast that culminates in a joust for which the entire festival is named. A nearly constant drumbeat accompanies the centuries-old celebration as participants in traditional Sardinian and Spanish costume perform amazing stunts on horseback and drive the horses at full gallop to pierce a suspended star in the sartiglia, or ring. The more holes are made in the star, the luckier the year ahead will be.

The king of the festival is an arbiter called Su Cumponidori, who is ornately and publicly dressed before the event by young girls called “Sas Massaieddas”; the master wears a white, expressionless mask, small black top hat, silk ribbons, lace veil, puff-sleeved white shirt, and a leather jacket that ends in a short skirt on the front. Su Componidori is androgynous, representing male and female alike, and is considered a demigod sent to bring luck and protect from evil spirits.

Horsemen feature prominently in the Sartiglia from parades to events that test equestrian skills; aside from the Race to the Star, some of the most exciting parts of the festival are the dangerous, acrobatic performances on horseback, especially Su Cumponidori’s performance of “Sa Remada,” during which he rides the entire route lying on his back while the horse is at full gallop.

It is believed that the festival’s roots are in 11th century Saracen tournaments but the celebration became more theatrical and linked with Carnevale in particular during Spanish rule.

During the weekend of Sartiglia people from all over Sardinia (and from all over the world) come to Oristano to attend the event. Sardinians bring with them their precious traditional costumes (each family inherits almost one costume from their grandparents, as well as antique and gorgeous jewels, to use them for the parade, which takes place on the afternoon of the Sunday of Carnival. The main characteristic of these costumes is that each little Sardinian town has its own costume, so during those days you will be surrounded by a gorgeous blaze of colours and patterns, a unique spectacle.

Sartiglia is strictly connected to the promotion of wine and food Sardinian traditions. If you are so lucky to be there during the days of the feast, you will taste unique and very particular traditional Sardinian dishes and sweets, as for example Zippole, a tasteful and delicate fried “donut”, which recipe roots are very old, as well as toast with the delicious and autochthonous Vernaccia Wine, a perfumed Sardinian meditation wine, and obviously with the “Filu e Ferru” (which translation is “Iron Wire”, this gives you the idea of the strength of this grappa), a very strong traditional grappa, you can have it dry or flavoured with wild fennel. All the Sardinian sweets, that are mainly almond sweet, are still completely handmade, if you get there make sure to visit one of the antique laboratories, where you will breathe a peculiar old-timey atmosphere.

Be part of this spectacular event with Wine & Food Traveller.

Wine and Food Traveller has secured 5 rooms and premium seats for this event. For more information about this amazing festival in Italy go to http://www.wineandfoodtraveller.com/grouptour/get/Carnival-Gourmet-in-Sardinia