Claudia Da Rin

A world of traditions: Easter in Sardinia

Easter – walk into a new life

Celebrated all over the world in various shapes and forms, from the Resurrection of Christ in the Christian faith to the crossing of the desert to reach the Promised Land in the Jewish tradition, Easter epitomises a triumph of colours, scents and joy. Traditions evolved over time, some of them clearly having a religious connotation, while others boasting peculiar origins. Easter bunnies, for instance, were allegedly imported to America by German immigrants, who brought along stories of an egg-laying hare: its decoration is believed to date back to the 13th century. Easter eggs, so loved by everyone and coming in every size and colour, may have some pagan origins, although some maintain they may refer to the rebirth of Jesus.

Our beliefs aside, Easter – and springtime – bring along a sense of rebirth, new life, new colours, delight and marvel. You could travel far and wide to see how Easter is celebrated, but we have come to a special island that sees traditions at the core of its essence: Sardinia.

Sardinia – an island that shines bright

Surely Italy is a maze of diverse landscapes and art jewels, culinary delights and dialects, traditions and habits being deeply respected throughout. Perhaps more so in the second largest island on the Italian soil: Sardegna – Sardinia for anglophiles. An island that saw invaders from all fronts over the centuries, Spanish domination has left a strong mark in the many traditions that include craftsmanship, local dialects and religious devotion. Add archaic uses linked to Nuragic Paganism and you’re in for a special blend of intimate, passionate and enticing rituals.  A proud island that strongly defends its fascinating heritage, Sardinia reveals its true core at Easter, where the entire land embraces highly-felt customs during Holy Week.

Let’s explore.

La Setmana Santa – Sa Pasca Manna

La Setmana Santa - Holy Week - starts on the Friday before Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. Sa Pasca Manna – Easter – takes on a prominence that even exceeds Christmas celebrations (called Pasquixèdda or “small Easter”). It should not surprise, then, that the entire island comes alive with a resonant expressive force epitomised in dances, solemn processions, mystical re-enactments and a general spiritual atmosphere. Alghero sees the procession of the Addolorata, when the entire town is infused with true devotion and various scenes, such as the Deposition, are represented with feelings of authentic passion, the whole city decorated with torches and street lamps.

Desulo, in the province of Nuoro, re-creates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, the palms turned to look to the sky, while Santu Lussurgiu, in the province of Oristano, celebrates the Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis) with the Miserere and the novena. Lunissanti, taking place on the Monday of Holy Week, is especially poignant in Castelsardo, to the north-west of the island: in this picturesque village perched high above the sea, the Confraternities congregate at dawn in the church of Saint Mary and then proceed towards the Basilica of Our Lady of Tergu, accompanied by chants and choirs. Several villages in the province of Oristano see many events taking place on the Tuesday of Holy Week, such as Ortigali, Planargia and Bosa, with evocative processions of the Mysteries taking place.


Sa chida Santa

Celebrations continue during Holy Week, each day taking on a new meaning, revealing yet another layer of special devotion. Wednesday sees people being dressed into mourning, with some places blessing the Holy Cross and giving out flowers and the olive tree – as is the case in Iglesias.

Thursday is the day of the Adoration of the Sepulchre, with processions recreating the figure of the Virgin Mary in desperate search of her Son: people are dressed with a white robe and a white hood, moving to the sound of drums. Holy Friday reaches the apex of this devotional journey, when the Stations of the Cross are recreated with tangible emotion and involvement. 

Su Incontru

Culminating with Easter Sunday celebrations, Su Incontru (also spelt S’Incontru) was introduced by the Spanish in the 15th c. and celebrates the reunion of the Virgin Mary with the risen Christ. Celebrated around the entire island, in Oliena it acquires a special connotation in view of the richness of its decorations: a triumph of traditional garb featuring silk, golden and silver threads and then orbace for men’s clothes, the richness of this adornment points at the relevance of this tradition. Curated by the confraternities of Saint Mary, Santa Croce and Saint Francis, processions meander around the streets and attract many participants.

The Virgin is clothed in mourning clothes, as she has lost her Son, while the statue of Christ is rich in ornaments: both statues are carried by enthusiasts, dressed in the traditional attire, with silk, silver and gold threads for women and sa berretta with su carcione – the black orbace skirt worn above white trousers – for men. After the two statues have “met”, folk dances commence, followed by a rich banquet. In Barbagia, folk groups perform songs and dances, a festive atmosphere touching the soul of anyone taking part in the festivities.

Enjoy Christmas biscuits

It would not be Italy without a penchant for delicious food. Sardinians love and cherish food, Easter celebrations being enriched by bountiful, appetizing treats. Start your journey of the senses with Su Coccoi – a special bread with a whole egg in the middle -,  Pardulas – a ricotta-based sweet –, then Sas Panadas – a pasta bake with lamb, potatoes and artichokes – and the famous culurgiones – ricotta-filled spinach ravioli.

Continue with amaretti – almond biscuits – and bianchiddus, lovely meringues made with lemon zest, Mustatzolus – a type of sweet bread, typical of Oristano, and Pirichittus – lemon biscuits. We could carry on and on into this journey of delights, so why not simply make your way to this splendid island? You would find out why the entire world has fallen in love with this magic realm of splendour and marvel. 

Best Hotels in Sardinia

I represent exceptional, family owned boutique hotels and private yachts in Italy that reveal the soul of their owners: not merely time spent admiring and rejoicing in splendid surroundings, but a journey into local habits and traditions, nurtured by unique personalities and delivered with love.

Su Gologone, (in the photo) Sardinia’s top country lodge, laid out on terraces amid bowers of Mediterranean trees and flowers. But it’s more than a hotel: dedicated to bringing the best of Sardinia to guests, it’s a colour-drenched oasis of authenticity, art and beauty. Along with fine wine and wilderness adventures. Su Gologone is the perfect blend of food and fun! Set amid the magical landscape of Sardinia, surrounded by a 10-hectare private park in the heart of the Barbagia, a dozen or so miles from Olbia – less than an hour – Su Gologone is the ideal location for your holiday on the island. Unique experiences and a flawless service, enriched by exquisite culinary delights embodying excellence. Time to relax, to make new discoveries and to relax, moments of pleasure, spirituality and fun: your memories will be even more intense, unique and unforgettable. Tradition, cuisine and unique design are the hotel’s X-factors. Hammocks and cushy intimate nooks, candles and lanterns add to the romantic, laid-back atmosphere. Evenings at the hotel are pure magic: watch the sun set over the mountains from the herb garden, just as hundreds of tiny LED lights flicker like fireflies.

L'Ea Bianca Luxury Resort is a boutique 5 star jewel, set on a lovely beach. This cozy and contemporary hotel provides guests with a tailored comfort. It is nestled between the green junipers and the turquoise sea, in front of the archipelago of La Maddalena. The freshwater pool is surrounded by flowering gardens, a sun terrace that offers  sun beds and parasols.  A small path through the private grounds offers an access to  the beach ‘Cala dei Ginepri’, just 150m, where two private areas are equipped for  guests  use.  The 31 rooms and suites are located on the ground, first and second floors serviced by  lifts, all individually designed and furnished combining contemporary influences from Sardinia and the Far East.  L'Ea Bianca features also 5 indipendent Villas with full hotel services which are the perfect choice for families or friends looking for privacy and relax