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It is between a combination of colors and scents that every year, on the first of May, Cagliari celebrates the most important event for the Sardinians: the feast of Sant’Efisio. For over 360 years, the city carries the statue of the saint in procession, to dissolve a vote made by the municipality in 1656 to free Cagliari from the plague. Efisio was an officer of the Roman army who, according to tradition, converted to Catholicism, becoming a defender of the crisitianism while his soldiers fought the barbarians. Sent to Sardinia to defend the interests of the Roman Empire, due to his disobedience, the emperor Diocletian ordered his death and he was put to the gallows. Before being executed, as an act of faith, he promised to protect Cagliari and its citizens forever.
At the procession of May 1st, the chariot of the saint is carried by the adorned oxen, followed by the devoted people who wear the costumes of various places of northern and southern Sardinia, and the scent of flowers, scattered along the path of the saint, completes the scenography.
Saint Efisio’s journey begins on 1st May when the saint leaves the church of Stampace and after crossing the streets of Cagliari he heads to Capoterra where he stops at the church of Su Loi, and finally at Sarroch, at Villa D’orri where he spends the night. The second day he continues towards Nora where he remains until May 4th before coming back to Cagliari.
The whole island stops every year to repeat this 65 km long procession, one of the oldest and longest in Europe, which involves the Sardinians but also many tourists from all over the world.