My latest travel article for MatadorNights is about S'Ardia, a religious festival where the most important moment is a reckless horse race. In Sardinia dangerous horse races seem to have been always very trendy since in many villages they are the main attractions.
In Sedilo, where the real Ardia takes place, two weeks later horse-riders and common village-people engage in the same race with only an apparently little difference: the hostile path is faced on foot.
The "Ardia a piedi" (Ardia on foot) starts at 6am, and it couldn't be a minute later in Sardinian July, when burning temperatures start hitting at 6,30am. The scheme is exactly the same as when it's run with horses, just a bit slower, especially when uphill.
The day after the run, all townspeople exchange comments on their own Ardia and the competition becomes over who can boast more pain and wounds, caused by falls or the leaders' escorts who certainly don't spare baton blows to the bravest who try to overcome St. Constantine and his generals.
I have run this race on foot a couple of times, and this gave me the opportunity to boast some injuries for having tried to arrive to the little sanctuary before the Saint and, mostly importantly, to hear my grandfather say: "Seeing all this youth running for St. Constantine just opens my heart."