Sardinia: Places to Explore

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Oristano

The beautiful small colonial center exudes a distinct serenity. Oristano's evening passeggiata (pre-dinner stroll) teems with vivacious young children and has a relaxed friendliness about it. The city's star shone most brightly in the Middle Ages, when it was capital of an independent duchy led by Sardinia's own Joan of Arc–type heroine, Eleanora di Arborea (circa 1340–1402), who is immortalized with her own piazza, site of the city's town hall. Oristano is now the scene of livestock fairs and a rousing series of horseback competitions, called Sa Sartiglia, marking the end of February's Carnival. The tradition—in which a rider must pierce a string-suspended star with his sword—began in 1350 as a wedding celebration of Jugde Mariano II. It has since continued as an annual festival ensuring a plentiful harvest for farmers.

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