Pagan Carnivals of Sardinia – Sos Battileddos of Lula

The most cruel carnival celebration on Sardinia preserved from pre-Christian times takes place in Lula , the passion of Dionisus is being embodied.
Dionisus is the Greek halfgod, son of Zeus that was worshipped in Sardinia way before Christ.

The most cruel carnival celebration on Sardinia preserved from pre-Christian times takes place in Lula , the passion of Dionisus is being embodied.

Dionisus is the Greek halfgod, son of Zeus that was worshipped in Sardinia way before Christ.

Pagan elements from a remote past can still be found today in many of the Sardinian carnival celebrations.

Today we set out with some friends to participate in the carnival celebrations in Lula, one of the most authentic carnivals of Sardinia, and we were all positively impressed by the details of the ceremony, and the good and happy mood of the whole thing. Even though there was a bit of a drizzle most of the time, it was a Fantastic day!

An important part of the celebration is called “la vestizione” the dressing, where it all begins. The faces are blackened with burned cork, including those of many bystanders. Goatskins and bells are hung around and the lassos and whips are prepared, even hear a pigs stomach belongs to the outfit.

[mk_gallery title=”Following the Battileddos through the streets” images=”459,460,461,462,455,454,453,452,451,450″ style=”style3″]
[mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]Sos Battileddos which in this case means the fools, are the figures participating in the carnival celebration. Literally Sos Battileddos are the ones who take the beating.

All have blackened faces as a sign of mourning. The main protagonist is Su Battileddu, the head of the fools so to say, he is drawn through the village in lassos by two other Battileddos, followed by a group of around 10 young men dressed as mourning women.[/mk_blockquote]

The women are mourning because Su Battileddu is going to be sacrificed, he is dressed up not only with goat horns, but also with a blood-filled pig stomach, hidden under his coat of black goatskin. The pig stomach is attached to a belt of cork where the other Battileddos occasionally prick in order to make their victim bleed.

Every time he goes down on his knees a sip of wine gives him new strength, and off he goes again pulling on his lassos into the crowd of bystanders. The wine comes from a barrel that’s being pulled around by the mourning women on a blue cart, and also the bystanders that have turned into participants get offered a cup of wine.

The mourning women run back and forth screaming, pushing bystanders and occasionally they catch young women and then show their phallic symbol which they keep hidden under their skirt.

The whole celebration is a pagan propitiation rite, bringing a sacrifice to appease the gods for a good year. A fertility ritual for people and agriculture. At the end of the ride Su Battileddu dies, the women lay down besides him and cry ferociously, the music starts again, Su Battileddu is loaded on the blue cart, some more wine is poured from the barrel and people start dancing the traditional ‘ballu tundu’ circle dance. Afterwards there’s a dinner where everybody ca participate against a small contribution.

Goloritze walk on your own

The walk to Cala Goloritze is easy to find.
The last couple of years Cala Goloritzè has been mentioned on Tripadvisor as one of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia. Probably they’re right, but

The walk to Cala Goloritze is easy to find.

The last couple of years Cala Goloritzè has been mentioned on Tripadvisor as one of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia. Probably they’re right, it surely is a gorgeous beach, with a white pebbly beach and cristal clear blue water.

In the summer it looses a bit of it’s charm because it literally gets covered with towels . Therefore I advise you to go outside of the summer months, or if you have to go in the summer go early.

However! Many people are uninformed

It’s quite funny to see people in thongs walking down, people with towels around their neck, thinking the beach is around the corner, I even once met a guy pushing a baby trolley over the rocks! A lot of people think they’re in for an easy stroll to the beach, but you could hardly be further from the truth.

[mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]The track is actually steep and lousy, lacking maintenance and frequently destroyed by the autumn rain showers.[/mk_blockquote]
[mk_gallery title=”Cala Goloritzè !!” images=”277,278,279,280,276,275″ disable_title=”true”]

What you need to know about the walk to Goloritzè.

Equipment

  • Wear good shoes, the track is all stones and rock.
  • Bring enough water and lunch, there’s no bar anywhere before you get back to the top. This means that on warm days you need to bring at least 2 liters per person.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.

Costs

The beach belongs to Baunei and once you get to the beach you’ll have to pay one euro to get on. Besides that also parking your car at the guarded parking of Su Porteddu costs around €5,00 for the whole day.

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The track to Goloritzè in numbers

You need about 1,5 hours to get down and 2 hours to get back up. The altitude difference between the starting point at Su Porteddu and the beach is around 450 m. One way is just under 4 km.

About 60% of the track is in the shade, but because you’re in a valley there’s not much wind so it will be nice and warm!

The sun disappears relatively early, around 15.00 in the late summer due to the steep rock-wall behind it.[/mk_blockquote]

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Su Gologone springs and the Cedrino river

The Su Gologone spring’s highs and lows
The Su Gologone spring is a place where we often stop with groups and also privately, it’s an excellent quick stop to score some valuable points, and besides that

The Su Gologone spring’s highs and lows

The Su Gologone spring is a place where we often stop with groups and also privately, it’s an excellent quick stop to score some valuable points, and besides that a good spot for a coffee and a toilet break when you’re on the road.

Sometimes they organise events, life music, open air yoga sessions etc.

However when it rains heavily hell breaks loose!

What happens is that the river brings down water to the lake, the spring and the Sa Oche cave too, and the level of the lake can even rise a few dozen meters further down stream. In that case the whole area around the spring floods, and can rise by even more than 10 meters.

[mk_blockquote style=”line-style” font_family=”none”]Fortunately the water doesn’t come down with a lot of violence, but still, it’s strong enough to lift up and move the terrace covering of the kiosk for example as happened in 2013 and leaves a big mess in general. After the dam is opened up the water level slowly comes down again and mud and branches are left everywhere and the guys running the bar and guide service have to clean for days and put a lot of effort into getting ready again for the season.[/mk_blockquote]
[mk_gallery title=”The Cedrinio river and Su Gologone springs” images=”176,179,178,177,175,174,173,172″ style=”style1″]

Here is how it all works:

Su Gologone is a very impressive fresh water spring, where hundreds of liters of water per second come to the surface. The proven depth is 135 meters, which makes it one of the deepest pot holes filled with water in Europe. Basically the spring is the exit of a karst system, more than 3o km long and with a capacity that’s bigger than the lake it borders on. Exit, because the surrounding mountains where it gets it’s water from, and the cave system underneath them are all higher than the spring, which lies at only just over 100 meters above sea level.

[mk_blockquote style=”line-style” font_family=”none”]- karst actually means limestone, the Karst mountains are situated on the border between Slovenia and Italy, they are composed of limestone, and this was the first area where research was carried out on limestone erosion and the topography caused by it. Hence karst became synonimous for limestone and therefore it’s also used here in the Supramonte mountains.

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Parts of this intricate karst – cave – system hav been explored, by the various local caving clubs, however big parts of these caves are at least partially filled with water, and that’s where the cave divers come into play. Different hazardous expeditions have been carried out throughout the years, and the italian cave diver Alberto Cavedon ( is his name a coincidence or what?) reached the incredible depth of 135 m in 2010.

What comes after these 135 meters of depth is still a mistery, but due to tests with coloured water it is known that the springs are connected with several other caves in the Supramonte area which are up to even 20 km away in a straight line.

Therefore it is known that the surface area from which it gathers its water is around the 180 square kilometers big. So when it starts raining heavily hell breaks loose! From the surface the rain water sipples and runs down into the underground cave systems which are literally more than 30 km long and a lot of this water than ends up running out of the spring of Su Gologone. Not all of it though, some fills up the underground lakes so that also when it’s not raining the spring is active, and then a big part of the excess water runs out of the Sa Oche cave in the Lanaitto valley, about 5 km away.

Both the excess water from the spring and from the Sa Oche cave bring their water to the artificial Cedrino lake, that extends for some 7 km. The Cedrino lake springs in the Supramonte of Orgosolo at around 1200 m. a.s.l., and also big a big part of the rain water fills the river before it reaches the spring.

All in all this can cause the Cedrino lake to fill up even overnight! So in the time of year when the heavy rains can be expected the water company Abbanoa (litt. new water) has to make sure that the lake is empty. If not they have to open the dam, which causes problems in the towns further downstream. The risk in Galtelli and Orosei is that they get their feet wet and their basements full of water! And of course this has happened a few times in the last 15 years.

Which is one of the reasons that the dam in the Cedrino river was built (in the seventies) in the first place, so not just as a water reservoir, but also as a protection against flooding.