The pretty and historically important city of Sassari is the second largest in Sardinia, and lies in a beautiful spot in the North West region of the island.
One of the oldest established cities on Sardinia, Sassari is a cultural delight and is famed for its art and culture, while also being an important place in terms architecture.
Apart from its importance in cultural terms, Sassari is famous for a spectacular traditional event that takes place each year in August; the ‘Faradda di li candareri’ – or Descent of the Candle bearers (Official site) – draws in many spectators both locally and from abroad, and is well worth experiencing.
Origins of the Descent of the Candelieri
Many Sardinian cities have their own traditional feast days and carnivals, but few are as impressive as the Descent of the Candelieri, which takes place on 14th of August each year, and has done so for more than 700 years.
A celebration in honour of Vergine Assunta – Our Lady of the Assumption – the festival commemorates her stemming three plagues that racked the city, with each of them laying claim to having ended on the date when the celebration is now held.
The event itself features a parade of locals carrying large candles, with certain groups leading the procession and children involved too. A fabulous spectacle of colour and sound, it is typical of a Sardinian parade, but one unique to Sassari.
Candelieri Sassari – Leaders of the Parade
The Descent is carried out by members of the nine ‘Gremi’ – workers guilds that stem back many centuries – who march from the town square to a church where they are met by local dignitaries for the performance of the traditional ceremonies.
The parade is traditionally led by the most important of the Gremi – The Farmers – who have held this status for many centuries.
The Farmers are followed by the other Gremi – the Cobblers and Carpenters, Blacksmiths and Stoneworkers, Farm Workers and Wayfarers, and the Bricklayers and Tailors.
All of these guilds represent trades and crafts that have been important to the culture and very existence of Sassari across the years, and highlight the importance of trade within this fine city.
Sassari Local Culture
A wealth of museums and galleries give visitors the full experience of the cultural significance of Sassari not only in Sardinia, but in Italy and Europe as a whole, while visitors can also enjoy the many fine churches in the city, the remains of the ancient city walls, and the beautiful main square – Piazza d’Italia – with its wonderful surrounding buildings.
Fine restaurants serving local cuisine are to be found across the city, quiet cafes hide down narrow old streets, and bars make for a lively nightlife in this friendly and welcoming place.
Getting to Sassari
With many fine buildings and famous art collections, the city is popular with tourists, and is easily reached by car from the airport at Alghero. Indeed, the convenience of a hire car means visitors can explore the many local towns and villages, and other delights that are to be found in the immediate vicinity.
Visitors to Sassari usually arrive via the international airport at Alghero, which is served by many airlines flying from a variety of important cities. Hiring a car in Sassari is the best way to get the most out of this beautiful part of Sardinia, and the road journey from Alghero Airport to Sassari should not take more than half an hour.
Drivers should take the SP44 directly from the airport then join the SS291 after 4.6km heading east towards Sassari itself, which is well signposted, and remain on this road for all but the last minor part of the journey which is the road right into Sassari.
A pretty and very interesting city, Sassari is a great opportunity to experience Sardinia at its traditional best.
Candelieri news and updates
This year’s parade will be preceded by a small parade dedicated to children on 6 August and another one called “Candelieri Medi” on August 10.
Moreover, the Golden Candlestick special award will be awarded to the Sardinians who gave prestige to the city of Sassari and to Sardinia in general.
The 20th Edition of the “Faradda dei Piccoli Candelieri” (descent of the baby candle bearers) to start today at 6pm in Sassari.
A descent of the Candelieri dedicated to children will take place on August 5th at 18:00.
The descent will follow a precise path, starting from San Antonio, throughout Vico street and it will end in the square of the Church of Santa Maria Betlem.