The beautiful and historic city of Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is home to a number of feasts and celebrations throughout the year, and none are more important than the Festival of Sant’Efisio (Sagra di Sant’Efisio).
Taking place on the 1st of May every year, the Feast of Sant’Efisio is attended by locals and visitors who enjoy the colours and sounds that come with a lively Italian parade and celebration.
This traditional festival is celebrated each year from 1st to 4th May.
Sant’Efisio May 2020 Program
Roots of the festival
The festival has deep historical roots, and celebrates the saint to whom the people of Cagliari turned after a devastating plague in 1652.
They pleaded with the martyred saint to rid the city of plague, and he duly delivered: by 1656 the plague was over, and the pledge the locals had made to carry a statue of Sant’Efisio through the streets of Cagliari every year has been met ever since.
What began as a small demonstration of thanks soon became a major event. The 1st of May coincided with an even older tradition of ‘Thanksgiving’ whereby the people thanked God for the spring harvest, and the two events merged to become what is now the premier feast day celebration in Sardinia.
The parade really is a delightful and spectacular experience, and the modern version sees in excess of 5000 people follow the statue of Sant’Efisio through the unspoilt and quaint streets of the city.
They are led by a series of colourfully decorated wheeled wagons known locally as ‘traccas’, these celebrating the harvest and the produce gathered, and following come a variety of groups representing the many villages around the region, each wearing traditional dress and singing religious songs that are associated with the area.
Next, horsemen follow on their resplendently decorated mounts, including an armed escort that traditionally guards the statue from bandits, but perhaps the most striking part of the parade comes with the golden coach that carries the saint through the streets, surrounded by beautifully dressed attendants in formal dress whose job it is to guide the statue to its resting place.
A cacophony of sound and music accompanies the statue, ranging from the beautiful music of the traditional local Sardinian pipes to the bark of ships horns as it passes the port, and once the procession reaches its end, the party begins!
A friendly, lively and unique to the area atmosphere prevails, with feasting, religious ceremonies, dancing and singing bringing colour and excitement to the proceedings, and everyone is welcome, not matter where they are from.
To those who come from Cagliari this day – and the few that follow it before the statue is once again marched through the streets to its permanent resting place in the small church at Stampace – is the most important in the calendar, and for tourists it represents an opportunity to experience a genuine traditional Sardinian celebration like no other.
Nothing can match the sight of 5000 people winding their way through the wonderful streets of Cagliari, just as they have done every May the 1st for more than 350 years.
Sant’Efisio May 2020 Program
May 1 – 9:30 a.m.
At the council hall of the Civic Palace, the mayor of Cagliari Paolo Truzzu will proceed to the official investiture of the Alter Nos, represented this year by the city councilman Raffaele Onnis.
At 11:00 a.m., at the Church of St. Efisio of Stampace, the parish priest of St. Anna Mons. Ottavio Utzeri will celebrate the holy Mass in honor of the new Alter Nos.
Sunday, May 3rd – 9:30 a.m.
The simulacrum will leave the Church of St. Efisio di Stampace to head to the evocative Romanesque church of Nora.
At the Church of St. Efisio of Nora, the Archbishop of Cagliari Mons. Giuseppe Baturi will celebrate the solemn mass of the dissolution of the vote.
At the end, the simulacrum will return to the church of Stampace.
Given the ongoing health emergency, all phases of the dissolution of the vote will be held with the sole presence of of the officiants, representatives of the Archconfraternity of the Gonfalone and the Alter Nos.
Visit Cagliari hiring a car at the Cagliari Elmas airport.