Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sardinia is burning

Yes, it's a beautiful island. Although not easy to travel, due to the lack of public transport, Sardinia is rich in heritage sites, even dating back 3000 years, and stunning landscapes, both beach-wise and mountainous.

And now it's burning. Literally. Fires are taking on the island, destroying lands, farms, killing people and animals, that are for some the only bread and butter. This year, like every year, fires started to violate people and environment early June. And like every year, there are people who for absent-minded mistake or amusement, set on fire, spreading destruction and panic.

Sadly, most of the summer Sardinian landscapes are yellow or black, and the temperatures unbearably hot. Lakes are prepared to be used as water tank in case of emergency and during a car trip it's very likely to see smoke and flames.

Only a few days ago a man died trying to save his animals from the fire that invaded his farm and another from an heart attack trying to escape the flames himself.

What's happening? Is our society becoming so empty that people don't have anything better to do than set on fire to amuse themselves?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sedilo, faith, life and death



Is it still possible to die for faith? Yes it is. But is it still accepted? It seems so.

In Sedilo, tiny hamlet in central Sardinia, every year a dangerous horse race takes place. In the video is only the start, I've seen this run all my life and is still gives me the willies.

Is it the recklessness? I don't know, maybe. But this year one of the horse-riders fell off the horse and died. The route is truly dangerous, full of pitfalls, with very narrow bits, especially when it approaches the arch, where seven years ago another rider died bumping into it at high speed.

After that accident, the vault was widened and padded. This year, arguments on enhanced security measures are still raging. Helmets, changes in the route, any sort of further rule was suggested, and riders don't even want to talk about it.

"We know what we face, we are trained and prepared to the dangers," it's the most common answer riders give, men and women alike. Every year the leader of the run changes, and to be chosen by the parish, the name needs to be registered in an old register. They wait for a lifetime, since when their parents put their name on it, knowing that one day it will be an honour for their sons to be Sa Prima Pandela.

Is it faith? Most likely, among the riders will be also some non-religious, but for St Constantine can made an exception. Love for horses (Sedilo's riders are among the best in Sardinia), faith, passion and tradition are the ingredients for this feast day that has become the soul of this village and its inhabitants.

Being half from Sedilo, I know there is no law capable to stop this race, nor the riders will wear any helmet. They don't run for show, they don't run for money, every year there is at least an accident, more or less serious and they will keep running, with or without tourists. Sedilo's townspeople will be there, no doubt about it, some praying, some laughing, everybody hoping the race will end with all riders safe on top of their horses at the sanctuary, where they are awaited and will be feted.

And if someone won't make it, there will be the solidarity of the community, and the following year everything will take place exactly like the previous one.

This is the way it, like it or not.
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