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A carousel of carnivals

creato da Fabio Bonvicini ultima modifica 20/06/2008 15:12

Discover the ancient of heart of Sardinia by taking part in its carnival celebrations

Carnival in SardiniaIf you've only ever seen Sardinia in postcards or glossy reviews of its chic Costa Smeralda resorts then taste some of real thing during the island's Carnival celebrations this year. Sardinians refer to the mainland as the continente, giving an idea of the sense of detachment they feel from the rest of Italy. The island is seeped in age-old beliefs and traditions which burst to life during the Carnival - from Carnem levare, or the absence of meat during the Lenten period of fast and meditation. Carnival is a throwback to the ancient festival of Saturnalia, a time of unmatched revelry when all rules were overturned and masters exchanged roles with their slaves. As the with Latin motto goes: "semel in anno licet insanire" - "once a year we can all go mad".

There is a wide variety of carnival celebrations dotted throughout Sardinia
. Two of the most spectacular must surely be the celebrations in Mamoiada and Oristano.
First we head to the province of Nuoro for Mamoiada's Carnival. The main event of the Carnival is the parade of Juvanne Martis Sero - an allegory of carnival dying while mourned by the onlooking crowds - which takes place on Shrove Tuesday (February 12th). Other highlights include numerous parties, dances and the parades of the breathtaking Mamutthones and Issohadores - part man, part beast and a celebration of when animals ruled the earth. If you are in Mamoiada pay a visit to the Mediterranean Mask Museum which was opened on January 12th last and traces the history of all the local carnivals throughout the ages.

If Mamoiada's Carnival is a celebration of Sardinia's rural tradition then the Sartiglia in Oristano evokes another equally important ingredient in the island's history. The Sartiglia - like the Quintana in Foligno and the Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo - pays homage to Italy's heritage on horseback. Here the Mamutthones are replaced by elegantly dressed componidori, jockeys who compete against other in a spectacular jousting tournament.
Sardinia - the land for all seasons.

Sardinia - : All you need to know about Sardinia
Carnival 2002 - : Celebrate carnival in Sardinia in 2002
Oristano - - In and around Oristano
Sardinia online - - A bilingual online magazine dedicated to Sardinia

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