S'Ardia. Traditional wild horse race in Barbagia

Photograph by

Mattia Vacca

About this image

Barbagia is a large mountainous area in the central-eastern part of the Italian island Sardinia, with beautiful nature and little isolated villages where people still live respecting traditions.

One of these villages is Sedilo, where every year on July 6th a hundred of the best, most daring and brave horse riders participate in a wild and unrestrained race; S'ardia.They don't run for money or glory but to show their devotion to a warrior saint, Saint Constantine. Actually he is not a saint according to the Vatican Church that never approved him, but he is to Sedilo’s people, who celebrate his deeds and courage in defending the weak.

Riders race down the hill at full gallop, pounding towards the narrow entrance below the Arc of Constantine amid rifle shots and clouds of dust, the speed is crazy and a mistake can be lethal (which it has been, many times, with the last death occurring in 2009).

The dust filled air, harsh with the smell of gunpowder and the crowd' s frenzy bring Sedilo and it's devout inhabitants back to a time long gone.