Take a step back in time for a wild cultural experience! Join veteran WT Trip Leader Stefano Baldi for a fascinating discovery of the captivating pagan festivals of Sardinia, wild spectacles that hold true to their Sardo roots, with 2,000-year-old rituals, allegorical reenactments, colorful parades, masked dancers, lively music, dancing in the streets, and spirited horse races. This is a chance to experience the real Sardinia—the deep “dark heart” of the interior, where few tourists venture, and where the locals proudly keep the oldest traditions. In the company of Stefano, whose irrepressible, exuberant nature is well known and loved by all who travel with him, we can’t help but get caught up in the action! Along with the festivals, we visit artisans in their workshops, learn the culinary secrets of making good pasta, see how the special bread—pane carasau—is made, and enjoy a wine tasting as we visit one of the most renowned wineries of the island.
Stefano's personal contacts and intimate knowledge of Sardinia really makes this trip possible and so unique. The behind-the-scenes interaction was incredible and made the festivals even more fun. Loved lunching with the shepherds, the roasted lamb, pecorino and ricotta-making. Despite the language barrier, Stefano's local contacts became our festival-going friends as well.
— Julie L., Harbour Island, Bahamas
Olbia / Sortilla de Tumbarinos
Our introduction to the heart of Sardinia begins with a hike to a shepherd's hut for lunch and a demonstration in the art of making Fiore Sardo, Sardinia's famous pecorino. In Gavoi, we attend the Sortilla de Tumbarinos, a lively local event where people attired in black clothes or robes, some with blackened faces or simple masks, roam around the town playing homemade drums accompanied by accordion and flute music.
Our hikes in the Sardinian countryside bring us to the Grotta di Ispinigoli, a deep cave linked to legends of human sacrifices in Nuraghic times. We also explore the Mamoiada area, with its beautiful landscape and “forgotten” archaeological sites, and learn about Sardinia's ancient past as we visit a Bronze Age tomb and the intriguing Museum of Mediterranean Masks, which displays the traditional masks used in Sardinian festivals.
We take the next few days to revel in the fun and excitement of Sardinia’s most fascinating pagan festivals, a chance to share a part of its fascinating ancestral history. At the Mamuthones carnival, we witness solemn parades of mysterious masqueraders in costumes of black sheepskins, heavy brass cowbells, and somber black wooden masks. We also take part in the Carrela è Nanti, where horses are ridden wildly through the narrow streets of Santu Lussurgiu in daring acts of bravery and skill; the Sartiglia, a reenactment of a medieval tournament on horseback, complete with reverberant drums and cheering crowds; and the carnival in Ovodda, culminating with a huge bonfire in the main square. Between festivals, we’ll enjoy short hikes along with the delights of Sardinia's traditional cuisine, and explore Romanzesu, an ancient Nuraghic village set amid centuries-old cork trees. Depart from Olbia on Day 10.