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La Piazza Blog & Stories
Annual Festivals On Mediterranean Islands
March 12, 2019

Annual Festivals On Mediterranean Islands

Sicily and Sardinia, two island gems you’ll love exploring with us on our La Bella Sicily and Savor Sardinia bike tours. Historically, both isles have been the battlegrounds of significant power struggles in the Mediterranean. They are the home to Moorish legends and Greek Myths, to Genovese kings and the Knights Templar. This unique history has given rise to festivals that are as rich and varied as the islands themselves.

We can’t mention all the island festivals in every town in this article. There are far too many! But if you’re lucky enough to island hop with us in the Mediterranean, here are a few festivals you won’t want to miss.

Popular Mediterranean Island Festivals


The Procession of the Trapani Mysteries, Sicily

During Holy Week, the islands are filled with all kind of processions, but none are as interesting as the Procession of the Trapani Mysteries. An ancient parade, the procession features some twenty statues representing the passion and the death of Christ. The city’s Spanish origins actually forbade passion parades. So these statues are artistic representations sponsored by the guilds of the city.

A photograph of horseback statues in the Procession of the Trapani Mysteries.

Procession of the Giants Messina, Sicily

Legend says that Grifone (a Moor) fell in love with Mata, daughter of Cosimo II. Cosimo did not approve of the marriage and Grifone kidnapped the young maiden. Mata vowed to marry the Moor only after he had converted to Christianity and so he did, and they founded the city of Messina. Huge paper-maché statues of Mata and Grifone are paraded through the streets of Messina from the 10th to the 14th of August, just before Ferragosto.

A photograph of men participating in the Procession of the Giants Messina.

Il Girotonno Carloforte, Sardinia

In late June, the island of San Pietro in southwestern Sardinia hosts the annual red tuna festival. The festival demarcates an ancient tradition of tuna fishing near Sulcis but has come to attract hundreds of starred chefs from Italy, Norway, and Japan. It’s a gastronomic experience not to be missed along Carloforte’s pastel-colored village set by the seaside.

A photograph of a masked man on horseback during one of the Mediterranean island festivals.

Sa Sartiglia in Oristano, Sardinia

Some say the jousts of Sa Sartiglia come from the knights of the 2nd Crusade, who imported Saracen traditions to Sardinia. Some say the ritual is pre-Christian in origin. Either way, this Carnevale parade is worth seeing. Everything is ornately decorated with flowers and bright colors while the participants and horsemen are eerily masked to hide their identities.

Come with us to the island festivals and learn to festeggiare (party) in style!

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