Stampace, at the heart of the most important festival in Cagliari
Discovering the district of Stampace, the fulcrum of the Sardinian capital, an authentic “city within the city”.
Walking along the alleys of Stampace district, one of the four historic districts of the Sardinian capital, a “city within the city” and the “district of the seven churches”, you have the feeling of experiencing the most authentic Cagliari, breathing its scents, listening to the original language of the inhabitants, discovering the iron and wood artisans’ shops and admiring unique glimpses of an ancient past.
Stampace is a picturesque world in itself, among the liveliest and lived, built by the hands of the Pisans around the thirteenth century below the mighty medieval walls of the Castle, a few steps from the current shopping and nightlife streets such as Piazza Yenne, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Via Manno and Largo Carlo Felice.
Many reasons make the heart of Cagliari so special: starting from the sixteenth century, it hosted numerous workshops of artisans and artists who created artefacts for the convents and churches of the city. These craftsmen went down in history for their impulsive and fiery temperament, an aspect that still earns residents the nickname of “cuccurus cottus“, that is, “hotheads”.
Still, anyone walking in Stampace, cannot help but be struck by the details that embellish it, whether they are flowered balconies, the neoclassical and Art Nouveau buildings, the Rococo and Baroque churches with their sumptuous and richly decorated facades or the archaeological evidence that survived urban expansion.
It is precisely here that Cagliari shows its many faces starting from the Roman Carales, with the remains of the Amphitheater, and “Villa di Tigellio”, up to the Botanical Garden. Further discoveries are the medieval Cagliari features, with the ruins of the oldest tower in the city, the Pisan Tower of the Sperone, and underground Cagliari with the “Prison of Sant’Efisio” and the Crypt of Santa Restituta , up to the city of popular devotion with Sant’Efisio’s festival and the Rites of Holy Week.
Last but not least is the Neoclassical, Baroque and Baroque Piedmontese styles that meet in harmony in the churches of Sant’Efisio, San Michele Arcangelo and Sant’Anna.
The best itinerary to discover the charm of Stampace
To discover Stampace, the ideal itinerary starts below the imposing walls of the Castle, in Via Cammino Nuovo: from here, following the stairs of Santa Chiara, you find yourself in front of the church and what remains of the ancient convent named after it.
Walking along the central and popular Piazza Yenne with outdoor cafes and nineteenth-century palaces, you arrive in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, completely pedestrian and full of restaurants, shops and cafes.
Turning right, here is Via Porto Scalas with the Torre dello Sperone, incorporated between private homes and the Military Hospital.
Via Sant’Ignazio da Laconi leads to see the Botanical Garden and the ruins of the Villa di Tigellio, an ancient residential complex so called for an alleged link with Tigellio Ermogene, a Sardinian singer who lived in the first century BC.
Continuing along the street, here is the church dedicated to Sant’Ignazio and the Roman Amphitheater: along the railing, you arrive in Via Anfiteatro at the end of which stands the San Giovanni di Dio Hospital with classical style; along Via Ospedale, you arrive at the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, a pearl of sculpture, painting and Baroque and late-Renaissance architecture.
It is also a real pleasure to enter the inner streets, such as Via Siotto Pintor, Via Carlo Buragna, Via Sant’Efisio and Via Santa Restituta and then return to Piazza Yenne, the beating heart of Stampace.
Stampace, the fulcrum of Sant’Efisio’s festival
One of the best times to be in Stampace is at the beginning of May when the whole neighbourhood dresses up for the solemn procession dedicated to Sant’Efisio, a triumph of colours, devotional songs and traditional clothes, a ritual that has been handed down unchanged for almost four centuries and that has never been interrupted, even under the bombings of 1943.
The Municipality of Cagliari, in 1652 promised the Holy Martyr that, if he put an end to the plague epidemic that raged on the island, he would receive homage over the centuries with a solemn rite.
So, every year, at noon, Stampace becomes the starting point of one of the oldest and longest processions in the world, from the 1st to the 4th of May, ending at the beach of Nora, the place of martyrdom of the Saint, and return at night to Cagliari.
A unique event, dedicated to folklore, history, faith and tradition, in an atmosphere of true celebration with floats adorned with flowers and fruit, the typical traccas, the chariot pulled by two oxen with horns adorned with wreaths and the evocative devotional songs of the brotherhoods.
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