Santu Lussurgiu hosts a traditional Carnival characterized by a horserace in pairs, called “Sa Carrela ‘e Nanti”. The event’s name, in the local Sardinian dialect, literally refers to the road “in front”, where the main race is performed, as opposite to “Sa Carrela ‘e Segusu” referring to the back way.
Equestrian traditions as “Sa Carrela ‘e Nanti” are very ancient and date back to past centuries, when the Judges of Arborea, first, and Spanish viceroys, afterwards, promoted horse breeding and specifically favored the selection of race horses. The most ancient reference to “Sa Carrela ‘e Nanti” would be found in “Dizionario geografico storico statistico commerciale degli Stati di S.M. il Re di Sardegna” (Torino, 1833-1856), written by Goffredo Casalis and Vittorio Angius, referring to the year 1840.
“Sa Carrela ‘e Nanti” is the core of Carnival for the village of Santu Lussurgiu and involves both horseman and horses and spectators. During the traditional races in pairs featuring Carnival in Santu Lussurgiu until today, brave horsemen perform breathtaking feats on horseback and are keen to offer a great show, complying with the rules of an event which originated from light cavalry’s exercises. According to tradition, horsemen must be lussurgesi and must wear a mask on or paint their faces. Spectators are part and parcel of the event. The crowd fills the narrow street of the center, it dissolves to leave the way clear for horses at the gallop and then thicken immediately afterwards, producing a very peculiar effect of vividness and participation.
The street hosting the event, Via Roma, is a downhill gravel road 350-meter long in the lowest southwestern side of the village.
“Su carrasegare Lussurzesu” (Santu Lussurgiu’ s Carnival) lasts three days and the horse race is replied every afternoon.
On Carnival Sunday, horsemen meet at the race departure, called “s’iscappadorzu”, and in pairs “a pareza” they launch into the race at full speed. Their aim is to perform and conclude the course joined in pair, with one’s harm on the companion’s shoulder as to symbolize communion, concord, friendship and solidarity. In ancient times, there were also pairs of three and sometimes four horseman. Carnival Monday is called “Su Lunisi de sa Pudda” (Monday of the chicken), because horsemen in gallop have to hit and drop a chicken with a baton, called “su fuste ‘e ortzastru”. The real chicken used to be hit and dropped until the 1970s has been substituted by a puppet.
“Sa Carrela ‘e Nanti” represents a unique moment of cohesion for the local community, which asserts its authentic self. It is an occasion of exchange and mutual knowledge; a unique occasion able to bring visitors into contact with the community’s history and its deepest soul.
“Sa Carrela ‘e Nanti” fulfills the desire of living an authentic experience, has in itself huge charge of outstanding attractiveness and represents a journey of fantasy, levity and transgression.