The beautiful island of Sardinia really is one of the unspoilt gems of Europe, an evocative place with a rich cultural history, and one where the locals provide colour and warmth all the time.
This is no more evident than in the pretty city of Sassari, the second largest on the island, and one with a history of celebrations that goes back many years.
Sassari, in the North West of Sardinia, is easily reached by renting a car from Alghero, and is home to some spectacular traditional feast days and parades throughout the year.
The most colourful and famous of these is the Cavalcata Sarda (www.lacavalcatasarda.com), which is the biggest spring festival on the island. This year the Cavalcata Sarda is taking place on Sunday 21 May 2017.
Sassari in Full Colour for the Cavalcata Sarda
The Cavalcata Sarda is a truly wonderful event that has been held annually since 1899 on the second to last Sunday in the month of May; it celebrates the onset of Spring, and remembers an occasion on which King Umberto, of Italy, visited the city to unveil an illustrious statue in the Piazza d’Italia, considered one of the most beautiful Piazzas in Sardinia.
As with many Sardinian traditions the event centres around a parade of locals, perhaps 3000 men, women and children, on horseback and on foot, wearing traditional outfits of splendorous colour, singing and dancing their way through the streets. In past times the event also included a horse race through the streets; this still takes place but, for safety reasons, is held in a nearby stadium.
Traditional Sardinian Folk Songs
As it coincides with the beginning of the tourist season the Cavalcata Sarda has become a popular event with visitors. The parade in the morning is a friendly and welcoming site, while the afternoon provides entertainment in the form of quite stunning and often very daring horsemanship. In the evening, visitors and locals gather to watch and listen as the celebration becomes a wonderful display of traditional local dancing along with the singing of Sardinian folk songs that celebrate the islands history and culture.
Visiting Sassari and the Surrounding Area
Sassari is a popular place for tourists and offers a choice of hotels and guest houses, while restaurants throughout the city offer both local and international cuisine, there are quaint cafes to relax in, and a selection of bars that are lively and welcoming during the Calvacata Sarda weekend.
This part of Sardinia is particularly beautiful with a fine coastline nearby and many other towns and villages easily reached by hire car, which is the best way to explore the region in your own time.
Visitors to Sassari usually choose to arrive at Alghero Airport, which is a simple drive of around half an hour using the SP44 and SS291 main roads. This route takes you through some beautiful countryside on the way to Sassari, which is well signposted from the airport. The final part of the journey takes you off the main roads and directly into Sassari itself, and there are plenty of historical and cultural attractions nearby that you can reach easily in your car.