One of the biggest festivals in Sardinia is L’ardia di San Costantino. It commemorates Constantine’s victory over Maxentious at Rome’s Mulvian Bridge in 312, in which Constantine is reported to have seen a flaming cross inscribed with the words “in this sign thou shall conquer”.
The highlight of the festival is a race on the grounds of the Santuario di San Costantino in the small town of Sedilo. The man chosen to be Constantine along with his two flag bearers races on the dirt track with other of Sardinia’s famous horse riders. The flag bearers are charged with the responsibility of holding back any challengers who try to pass Constantine to make it to the sanctuary fountain first.
There are no fences constraining the horses to the road. Instead, men with guns fire them when the horses get too close to the spectators. It seems to work.
The race is run twice, on the evening of July 6th and the Morning of July 7 (after the horsemen have celebrated the entire night away). The morning race is where you want to be if you’re brave enough.
Traditional food and wine is served on the sanctuary grounds during the festival, You’ll chow down on Sardinian specialties like grilled sausage, eels (Anguilla allo spiedo), and suckling pig, the famous maialino Sardo.
For the explanation of how the picture above came to be, see: L’Ardia di San Costantino.