Sartiglia of Oristano: the most spectacular horse ride

26 Feb 2023 Sardinia Tourism @bluAlghero-Sardinia

Sartiglia 2023: A Journey Through Sardinian Folk traditions

On the last Sunday and Tuesday of Carnival, the Sartiglia of Oristano is held. This event has a very ancient origin and was created during the Spanish domination. It has been celebrated every year without interruption since 1478, making it one of the most important carnival events in Sardinia.

Over 500 years of history for this race, driven by the audacity of the 120 riders led by the almost sacred figure of Su Componidori.

Among the many popular events, the Sartiglia is one of the most important events in Sardinia. To live it’ll be an unforgettable experience!

Sartiglia Edition 2023

➡️ Sunday 19 February – Sartiglia of the Gremio dei Contadini 

➡️ Tuesday 21 February – Sartiglia of the Gremio dei Falegnami 

The most important stages of the event:

  • 13.15: Parade
  • 13.30: Horse ride to the star
  • 16.30: Race of the Pariglie

What you should know before about the Sartiglia: some useful tips

1. Comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking a lot and standing around for several hours waiting for the riders to come by.

2. Buy tickets in advance. If you want to have a comfortable seat to watch the Star Race or the Pariglie, we recommend you to buy your ticket in the grandstand. Prices range from 20€ to 45€ and are available at the box office in the centre of Oristano or online (buy them in advance because they sell out quickly!). More information on the official website: Biglietteria Sartiglia.

3. Parking is one of the problems you’ll face. If you arrive late in the morning, the larger parking lots will already be full, so you’ll have to look for parking even a few kilometres away in the peripheral streets. And after parking, keep a reference of the street so you don’t have to wander for hours all over Oristano to find your car. 😭.

4. Eating during the Sartiglia in Oristano won’t be easy, especially during rush hour because of the thousands of people. Near Piazza Eleonora d’Arborea you’ll find many stalls offering grilled meats, hot dishes and sandwiches. Arm yourself with patience for the queue. In addition to the stalls in the square, some bars offer menus with two/three dishes.

Remember that the Sartiglia is a festival for all citizens of Oristano who want to experience these festive days with their friends and family. Some restaurants that are normally open during the week may actually be closed during Sartiglia.

5. Stay at least one night in Oristano. On the day of the Sartiglia there is a lot going on and also in the evening there are many events. This way you can enjoy the Sartiglia to the fullest and also avoid the queues on the way back.

Among the cheapest hotels in Oristano, we recommend Hotel il Duomo in a super central location. An alternative could be the Monastero di Santa Chiara, centrally located and a unique experience. On the other hand, if you’re a lover of modernity, the brand new Hotel TH Collection Rooms offers beautiful, super modern and comfortable rooms in a great location.

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Everything you need to know about the history of the Sartiglia of Oristano


The route goes through the historic streets of the city and continues to Cathedral Street, where the Corsa alla Stella will take place. Su Componidori opens the race with a wild descent, trying to pierce the star with his sword. Behind him all the other knights descend.

After the descent, Su Componidori goes to Piazza Manno where he performs the Remada, a spectacular acrobatics. This is a great art, because the rider gallops backwards on the horse.

Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia

After the race around the cathedral, the procession moves to Via Mazzini, where the pariglie (groups of 3 riders) perform daring acrobatics. When the pariglie are finished, Su Componidori finishes the race at a gallop. Accompanied by his helpers, he rides down the street on his horse and blesses the crowd with Sa Pippia de Maiu.

At the end, the procession moves to the headquarters of the Gremio, where the disrobing will take place. The gallop of the riders then reaches Piazza Eleonora d’Arborea.


Su Componidori

He’s the central figure of the event. He’s the highest authority responsible for the race. He’s elected and appointed every year on February 2, the feast day of Candelora. One of the most important aspects is the dressing of the knight. He’s assisted by the Massaieddas (young women in traditional Sardinian dress) and the Massaia Manna (the most experienced in this practise). It’s he who starts the race at the first attempt to pierce the star. His important role ends with the undressing, when the sacred clothes and the mask are removed, the figure of the heroic knight of Su Componidori ends.

Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia


The horsemen are undoubtedly one of the main components of Sartlia. There are 120 riders in total. Lately, the participation is almost exclusively reserved for the riders from Oristan, as the passion for riding in the city has grown among young people who want to participate in the event. The preparation of the riders for the Sartiglia takes a whole year. The athletic preparation and the cohesion with the other team members are very exhausting. The riders who are lucky enough to be asked by su Componidori to try their luck in the descent to the star experience an extraordinary thrill every time.


The gremi were religious guilds whose members practised the same craft, including farmers, carpenters, ironmongers, tailors, shoemakers, fig makers, and carters. The association was governed by statutes that came directly from Barcelona. Even today, the Gremi are the organisers of the event and are responsible for the most important decisions, including the proclamation of Su Componidori. The event is attended by the Gremio dei Contadini, which runs the Sartiglia on Sunday, while the Gremio dei Falegnami runs the race on Tuesday.

Tamburini e Trombettieri

The rhythms beaten by drums and trumpets mark the different stages of the race and accompany the entire Sartlia. Early in the morning on the day of the race, the group of drummers and trumpeters accompany a herald on horseback through the main streets and squares of the city to read the proclamation of the Sartiglia and invite people to participate in the star-studded race. The bright and colourful costumes and royal robes are impressive. They precede and announce the procession and create fascination and anticipation among the population.

Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia


1.The dressing

Dressing is the most solemn ceremony of the event, which takes place in the headquarters of the gremio. The ‘massaieddas’, the girls dressed in the traditional costume of Oristano, carry the clothes of su Componidori on their corbules. They are followed by ‘sa Massaia manna’, the woman who oversees the ceremonial dressing.

She wears leather trousers, a white shirt and coietto, a jacket also made of leather that stretches like a skirt down the front. Finally, the mysterious mask is placed on the knight’s face. This is one of the most exciting moments of the entire Sartiglia ceremony: the man is transformed into a Componidori. The placing of an embroidered veil and a top hat on the head completes the dressing of the man, who can no longer touch the ground until the end of the race. An artiere, in fact, will accompany the horse to sa mesitta, the table where the transfiguration of the rider took place: from there Componidori will mount his elegantly harnessed steed.

Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia

2.The race to the star

Su Componidori will attempt the feat first, then it’ll be the turn of his two adjutants. Then all the knights to whom the leader grants the honour of the sword may attempt the feat. He alone can decide which of the participating knights may tackle the course to try to win the star. The knights who succeed in the feat of capturing another star on the second day of the Sartiglia receive a small golden star as a prize. When su Componidori decides to approach the end of the race, he returns to the route with the swords he used and hands over the Stocco, the wooden lance, to the highest authority of the Gremio. Only he and his companions will have the honour to face again the Cathedral Route and try one last time to win the star.

Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia

3.The pariglie race

The Pariglie race takes place on Via Mazzini, a route outside the old city walls. Here begins the daredevil acrobatics of the riders who, after months of preparation, show off their enthusiasm and skill. The Pariglia de su Componidori opens the series of evolutions. The three riders make the passage with their horses led by the side riders, while the leader manages the course with his hands on the shoulders of his comrades. The last passage over the course is tackled once again by su Componidori with his pariglia. The end of the race is marked by the passage of the leader, who performs another remada.

Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia

4.The undressing

The now completed event concludes with the undressing ceremony of the race chief. Approaching sa mesitta with his horse, always taking care not to break the taboo of the earth, he dismounts from his horse directly onto the table, where the undressing will take place. The Massaieddas, having removed the top hat and veil, untie the webbing that for hours has tightened the mysterious mask. Once the mask is removed, su Componidori ceases to exist and the man’s face reappears and returns to reality.

Having reached the seat and ‘sa mesitta’, in total silence, the ringleader can then jump on the table and dismiss his horse for a artiere. . Once the top hat and veil are removed, the extraordinary roll of the drums marks the moment when the mask is removed: at that instant Componidori becomes a knight again.

Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia


Foto Credit: Fondazione Sa Sartiglia

In the history of the Sartiglia, there were apparently four women who received the investiture of Su Componidori. The last ones were Valentina Uda in 2013 and Emanuela Colombino in 2104. Both are veterans of the race, since they have participated in the Sartiglia of Oristano for more than 10 years and have won the star several times.

Women also play an important role in the dressing phase: the massaieddas. These are the young girls dressed in traditional Sardinian clothes, who carefully take care of dressing the su componidori. They’re under the watchful eye of the massaia manna, the oldest and most experienced, who completes this solemn ceremony with great care and attention.


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