I have already published a picture of S’Ardia, a festival I’m particularly close to as I’ve been attending it since I was born. This year I managed to shoot a video in the hope to give a better idea of it. This local feast lasts three days and the townspeople wait for it all year long. I’m not originary from Sedilo, but my mother is, and so both paternal and maternal sides of her family. This is why I can sense at least a little their devotion to this festival.
The celebrations start in the church square with the priest’s blessing of the riders, who afterwards parade along the village main street up to the sanctuary of Saint Constantine 2 km away introduced by Oristano’s Wind Orchestra Eleonora d’Arborea. The sanctuary rests on a tiny hill overlooking the beautiful Lake Omodeo. The small church is busy with pilgrims all year, and this is largely visible as its inside walls are clothed with pictures and vows of faithful asking the Saint to heal, help and give assistance in any way.
The main interpretation of the race is the commemoration of the Milvian Bridge battle that saw Emperor Constantine defeat Maxentius between the 27th and the 28th of October 312 AD. The first three horse riders are the Emperor and his generals and the following three their guards carrying a wooden stick to chase the rest of the riders who embody the enemies away (and they do beat them heavily!). However, the festival is so ancient that its origins are lost in the mists of time. Very likely it was born as a pagan ritual later incorporated by the Catholic religion, similarly to most of our festivals.
The race never fails to attract thousands of spectators, who stare in awe till the end. It’s a wild, dangerous and suggestive race, riders are the best in the island, horses seem not even fully tamed, accidents are copious every year, more than one riders died during the run, and probably this overdose of adrenaline is what makes it a truly undying tradition and an unmissable annual date.
In my video I tried to reproduce the emotions of the day, but to fully understand what goes on in those minutes, the only way is to plan a trip to Sedilo and see it for yourself. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.