Sant'Anna in Riola Sardo, a feast of lights in the heart of wetlands

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In the late afternoon on the wall of each Riola Sardo house rests a laurel branch. The dark green leaves lay on the opaque pastels where the sun is missing, or are stirred in shadows in the breeze when the light arrives slanting and intense. Three days before the committee of the feast of S. Anna cut the branches from the luxuriant hedges of Milis, paying the farmers in baskets of fish. The laurel has been loaded on trolleys and tractors, especially by young people, and then distributed through the streets of Riola, dressed as a small Jerusalem. A great lunch follows the for the volunteers. Boiled sheep and dumpling close the long months of preparation.

This year the fifty-year’s call-up failed to gather. In its place a spontaneous committee formed around the president Gianni Enna. It was he who received at home the flag from the church. His house will remain open for all the villagers to visit during the celebrations. On Friday morning Mr. Enna riding a horse has reached the church for the holy mass, escorted by the committee, the accordion and launeddas, the peculiar Sardinian flute. The statues of S. Anna, S. Martino and S. Gioacchino paraded then in procession. The evening is on the contrary for secular celebrations. The gazebos of handicraft products sprout in via S. Anna, a broken line that leads to the ancient church of S. Corona, built between the 12th and 13th centuries and, as some recent studies have shown, belonging to the order of the Templars. After 1750 Santa Corona was abandoned and many parts of the church were used to decorate the facade of the houses, on which religious and Templar symbols can still be seen today. The "path" of the sacred stones leads to the church of S. Martino, built on a pre-existing Romanesque structure of the sixteenth century.

The first youngsters are already gathering around the rides, and the stages are prepared for the music of the "Duas Caras" in the public gardens and of the "Galusè" in Piazza La Marmora, which will host the traditional poetry competitions on Saturday. "It is the most important festival in the country, and the community answers with enthusiasm every year. Not only the people of Riola, tonight there will be people from all over the province to listen to groups until late at night and attend 'sa rota' "explains Lucia Sanna, councilor for the environment and productive activities. Along with some members of the committee she is visiting Giorgio Oliva, master of fireworks, the long-awaited show. The pyrotechnic choreography, imagined to last half an hour, is organized in a series of sequences, bags of dust with fuse inserted in steel tubes. Under the setting sun of the master makes his last checks. Beyond the patch of low grass dry the reeds and the section of the church of Santa Corona. Around the bends of the Rio Mare Foghe river, which flows slowly to enter the pond of Cabras.

At 11 am will be the gold willow, the white willow, the discharges, the spreaders, the stops, the split shots, the blinkers and the circles to draw the sky and illuminate this splendid glimpse of history and nature. "We should do something to return it to the community, make it a place of aggregation and culture, not only in the days of St. Anne," says councilor Sanna.

Photos ©: ale_bilanc