Wow. It has been an incredibly long time since I’ve made the time to blog, and this blog entry is very long over-due…I believe it has been over 2 months since I last updated! I think that’s a new record for me and this blog. Let’s hope the intervals only shorten…
Let’s see….the last thing I wrote about was my winter vacation (it really has been a long time…) and since then, I have been going to school regularly. I have also begun swimming laps regularly at a local gym as well as participating in a choir at the music conservatory in
. Other than that, my daily routine also
includes hanging out with friends, both Italians and exchange students, and
a bit more. Cagliari
In these past couple months, I have been a bit busy with trips around Sardegna. The first weekend in February I went to Oristano and Narboglia to visit a friend, in late February I went to Oristano once again as well as Alghero, and in early March I visited some other friends in Iglesias.
For my first trip to Oristano in February I took a train early Saturday morning. Oristano is a rather large city near the western coast halfway between the south and north tips of the island. I arrived in Oristano and roamed around the city for a bit until I could be picked up by my friend and her host family. I stopped in a caffè for a bit, stopped in a few shops, and did general sightseeing around the city. I had already been in Oristano during my winter break, so I didn’t see many new things. It was an interesting and fun adventure anyway. If you’re interested in seeing some pictures of Oristano, see the previous entry! After my friend and her host family picked me up, we made our way to their house. I met everyone in the host family, and they were all very friendly and welcoming. We had a lunch of boar-meat stew, pasta, bread, cheese, salad, and a fried and sugared sweat bread called frittelle typical of Carnevale in
least Sardegna). Everything was very
good! Later, we tested their vocabulary
of English and they tested ours in Italian and Spanish by throwing out words
and saying what it translated to. It was
very interesting! Then, after a small
tour and a visit to their dogs out back, we made our way to a party that was
being thrown for my friend’s exchange program.
The party wasn’t all that eventful but it included successful speeches
from all exchange students (along with me, even though I don’t even belong to
that program), karaoke, dancing, and LOTS of eating. Italy
About a week afterward, I joined that same friend in Oristano for La Sartiglia and La Pariglia, events included in the Carnevale festivities of the city. Both events are 500 years old, maybe more!! In preparation for La Sartiglia dirt and sand were spread over the narrow street in front of the cathedral (the traditional location of the event). But before the actually event could start, a few other events had to take place! On that narrow street a troupe of cross-dressing, middle-aged men put on a dancing show for the audience. After the show passed a parade of drummers, people dressed in the traditional clothing of Oristano, followed by the court of “Eleonora D’Arborea”. Eleonora D’Arborea was a queen of the region of
called Arborea, known for her advanced code of laws granting many rights to
woman that weren’t granted in most places around the world. After the procession of the court came a
group of trumpeters, followed by the horsemen!
The horses were covered in colorful decorations and bells and the riders
wore traditional Carnevale costumes with white masks. I was told that, because of the prestige of
the event, the horses and riders train all year for the event, and it is a
requirement for the riders to have been born in the city of .
So needless to say this event is a really big deal. There were about 70 horses and horsemen and
they marched down the street in lines of 3 horses across. Now this street was barely wide enough to
accommodate 3 horses across, and the spectator areas were packed full with no
room to move. And I was right against
the fence separating me and these horses.
My host sister warned me about how dangerous this event is but I didn’t
truly believe her until now. Whenever a
horse would get spooked or annoyed, I was rather certain I would get a horse
hoof in my face. I had no room to back
up, and the horses seemed to get spooked fairly regularly. It was only after the event that I learned
that the horses were the least under control, and most spooked they had been
for years. But luckily no horses kicked
me in the face that day. However, we did
witness a few close calls with some other spectators. Oristano
After the procession of the horsemen was over, La Sartiglia began! One at a time, the horsemen would ride back to where they came from in the procession, trumpets would sound, and the horseman would ride at full speed back on the narrow street to the Cathedral where a small star with a hole in the center hung from a cord hanging across the street. The goal was to, at full gallop, catch the star by getting a sword through the small hole. If the star was caught, it signified additional good fortune for the city. Traditionally, the event takes place twice two different days, and each day it is hosted by a different group (one day is for the farmers another for the carpenters if I remember right). So catching the star on the group’s day earns good fortune for the coming year of that respective group. Again, this part was rather intimidating (having a horsemen gallop at full speed in a narrow street towards you is a bit frightening) but also incredible, and definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. We watched maybe 15 runs (maybe seeing 1 horsemen get the star, which goes to show how difficult it really is; remember they had trained the entire year) and then we made our way to eat lunch at some street vendors, and to walk around the many stands selling typical Sardinian foods, wines, musical instruments, and other products.
|Traditional Clothing from Oristano|
|See how close they were??|
|The Gallop for the Star|
The next event we saw was La Pariglia, which involved acrobatics and pyramid stacks on top of the horses. This was another amazing and memorable event, but it was a bit difficult to see due to the hundreds of people packed in to watch. We saw a dozen or so runs before the event ended at its traditional ending time of sundown. After that event, I took the train back to
A week or so later, I was invited by a couple friends to visit them in Alghero for the weekend. I took a train up to the upper part of the island, and after 3 or 4 hours of travel, I finally arrived in Alghero and met up with my two friends! We went to one of their host houses, where we would spend the next couple of nights. We met the family, had yet another delicious Italian dinner (is there any Italian meal that’s not?), and got dressed for our Carnevale party! It was a costume party, so one of my friends dressed up as a vampire-pirate, and the other dressed up as a hippie, and I dressed up in a toga with the laurel leaf crown (the crown was made by my Swedish friend Linnea in the way they make leaf and flower crowns for Midsummer in Sweden, making my costume very multicultural!). We all had a great time at the party!
The next day, we explored the city of Alghero, had caffè and hot chocolate (the hot chocolate here is more like a pudding than a drink) at a coffee shop with an excellent view of the entire city, and watched another horse event involving knocking down lanterns hanging from a cord, “sword” fighting with wooden sticks, and acrobatics. This event was on the
! Afterwards, we returned to the house, and ate
some Frittelle. Afterwards, one of my friends needed to leave
to return home. Later, we had a dinner
of pizza and called it a night. beach
|A street in Alghero|
|The Coastline of Alghero|
The next morning, Linnea and I made the biggest breakfast I have had since I left home. We had granola with dried fruit and yogurt, caffè, boiled eggs, fruit juice, homemade bread toast with marmalade…I think that’s it. It was excellent! Afterwards, we spent the early afternoon sitting on the beach and enjoying the first really warm day of the year J After loafing around on the beach, we took a train to Sassari, ate a quick lunch, had a quick look around, and I got on the train back to Cagliari.
|The Beach where we spent the early hours of the afternoon.Yeah, I live on this island...|
These past couple weeks have been filled with afternoons at the beach with friends (I actually got sun burnt in the beginning of March!) and exploring the city with exchange students. This past Sunday, I had my first ever sailing lesson! How many Minnesotans can say that their first sailing lesson was in the
in Italian? I hope to have many more
Well that’s about all that’s happened over these 2 months since I last wrote, you guys are all caught up on my life! I really hope to update much more often in the few months remaining (less than 100 days left in Sardegna??). I would also recommend looking up either pictures or information on the places, foods, people, and events I’ve mentioned in this entry and other ones!
P.S. I learned the Sardo (the dialect of Italian on the island of Sardinia, a mix of Italian and Spanish, which can change from city to city on the island) and Italian versions of the stereotypical Minnesotan figure of speech “Yeah sure you betcha”! In Sardo it’s “Ci poris contai” and in Italian it’s “Ci puoi contare” (“You can count on it” in English). Thought all you Minnesotans following my blog would be interested!