La Sartiglia

Photo by C. Verazza

Our lucky star

During "Sa Sartiglia", Oristano has an exceptional showcase for its territory. A land full of delicious products from farms, vegetable gardens, orchards in the area of Arborea, the rice fields, the fish of Cabras and its delicious bottarga, the good wine, the culinary tradition and craftsmanship in jewelry and ceramics.
A territory rich in history that can and must be open to other horizons.

One arrives early in Oristano, although the festivity begins only in the afternoon. Around half past 9, it is obligatory to stop at the bar of the friend Antonio Sanna, jockey and skillful "catching stars" as a boy. Excitement, anxiety and some nervousness and bad weather conditions could damage the tracks covered with sand.

The city center is a bustle of people, tourists, boys and girls having fun during the festivity and paint their faces, dressing up. So many things are to be seen in this city of central Sardinia that boasts an important historical past as the capital of Judicature of Arborea, which had the first woman judge, the famous Giudicessa Eleonora, who gave to her territory of a body of law, the "Carta de Logu", an amazing example of the ability to govern in the fourteenth century. Thanks to this, some of the riders who ran during the competition were women. Not only that, but also the choice of "Su Componidori", the head race, would fall on a woman.

The Dressing is an exciting rite. It is not easy, in fact, to access to this liturgy of strict rules. The guests are chosen by the Guild and perhaps, if you are patient in front of the access portal and you resist two hours standing inside, you have the privilege to attend.

The ritual is long, but never boring. For every gesture, even tying a ribbon or sewing the bandages around the head, accompanied by a frantic roll of drummers and the blare of trumpets that creates the rhythm that defines the sacral language. The dress is almost sewn to the Demigod. "Sa Massaia Manna", the mistress of ceremonies, fixes in the end the pink camellia rose to the heart of the "Componidori".

After a toast, the head-runner can mount the horse in its elegant colored rosettes and in its superb gait, which makes its entrance in a courtyard surrounded by the eerie silence of the public. The Procession starts in the racetrack that goes on in front of the majestic Cathedral in the city center.
The ride begins at the roll of drums and the blare of trumpets. The first descent is "Componidori"; his bizarre and indefinite mask; it conceals the identity and everyone is hoping that it actually is a "catching star", since that will bring good harvests.

Piazza Manno, where the running begins, down to Via Duomo and then off to St. Anthony, the calculation has to be fast and no mistakes are allowed. Moreover, measures have been taken during the crossing of head-runner's swords with their "Segundu"(the second): they met three times under the star, located in via Duomo.

Here comes "Su Componidori" on the top of the street. He's already at speed and slowly tips the sword in front of him. The horse gallops with no uncertainty and a moment before the crucial point, he gives strength to the arm, piercing the star. The audience is roaring, screaming in joy and cheering the big test of the demigod who managed the miracle of the dexterity of the first star.

From that moment, the race heats on. The strategy of the head-runner is simple: piercing as many stars as possible.

Photo by C. Verazza

The race takes its pace and becomes less and less apprehensive and sacral, therefore more cheerful and carefree. Just like the chorus of the ultras of the Sartiglia, placed below the Star in an area defined by a sign placed in the stand B: Caution. Zone subject to the heavy drinking of Vernaccia.
They drink and sing, doing the wave just like in a stadium.
The choirs are inspired by the official drinking and singing of the "trallallera":

"Currendi in sa Sartiglia

Asi pigau una stella

E nosus si buffaus

‘na grannaccina bella!

Trallellera….."

"Riding in the Sartiglia

Did you take a star?

And we drink

A large  glass of small Vernaccia wine!

Deedle-dum-dee-dah-dah….."
 

The riders usually happen to be in groups of eight and are chosen like a coach chooses his players. They have colorful clothes in Spanish style or wear the costume of the small towns of their origin, usually dark brown or black or even with sheepskin vests and some cowbell.

At the end of the race to the star, the audience, happy and cheerful, moves towards via Mazzini, where there will be acrobatics in teams.

These diabolical and furious races, where three riders put themselves alongside and help themselves in the exhibition of acrobatics, arouse wonder and joy in a public that incites them and acclaims them.

Agility, agility and great self-control and mastery of the horses are essential qualities.

Without good weather conditions, the risk of accidents is very high and sometimes the head-runner decides not to run. The disappointment of the public will be heard aloud, but the safety of beautiful Sardinian Anglo-Arab horses and riders stands before every other considerations.

The bar of Antonio Sanna, fervent discussions and comments are made. The Sartiglia is the most important event for the city and everyone is talking about it. Antonio, who participates in the first organization - he is on the board of directors of the" Foundation Sa Sartiglia" - talks about bureaucratic and human difficulties of starting this complex machine and of composing the winning team that does well, ultimately, to the city.

"Sa Sartiglia" in Oristano has an exceptional showcase for itself and its territory. A land full of delicious products from farms, vegetable gardens, orchards in the area of Arborea, the rice fields, the fish of Cabras and its delicious bottarga, the good wine, the culinary tradition and craftsmanship in jewelry and ceramics. A territory rich in history that can and must be open to other horizons.

To move, even. As it does when "Sa Sartiglia" moves, during the first Sunday of August, in Croatia, in Sinj, where a tournament is hold, recognized by the UNESCO, which resembles the one of Oristano. A star is not pierced, but the Alka (ring) suspended from 3.32 meters which the knights, the "Alkari", must be able to take with a wooden spear whose tip is made of iron. Oristano and Sinj are twinned. and this puts "Sa Sartiglia" in the circuit of the equestrian events that make the city a place of hospitality and tourism of unmissable quality in Sardinia.

Sa Sartiglia ends when its people are caught by melancholy.

The beautiful pictures of Cristiana Verazza remind us of how precious it is.

 

01 January 2016

Claudia Corona
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