In Oliena, the pitch-note of Easter Sunday is given by the young men – and recently also women –, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of ancient bandits, who since the early morning are continuously firing from the rooftops. Wherever we go down there, lead, shot and shell casings are continuously falling on our heads.
Oliena, Wild West. Recording by Lloyd Dunn, 27 March 2016
A procession starts from the church of St. Francis, with the statue of the Virgin Mary, who wanders the streets of the old town in search of her son. Meanwhile, in the church of the Holy Cross, amid polyphonic Sardinian folk songs, they decorate the statue of the Risen Christ, and then also another procession starts from the door of the church to the main square.
I turn back to the Holy Cross church for a photo of the empty square. A young woman in an apron stands on the corner, looking anxiously back and forth. “Has Christ already gone?” “Five minutes ago”. “Oh, Madonna. Every year I’m late.”
On the main square, along a path bestudded with rosemary branches, the two processions are approaching each other. The encounter takes place, s’incontru, which gives name to the whole festival. Christ bows before her mother, the Sardinian men before the Sardinian women carrying her. Then all the participants, and the entire public dressed in traditional costume, retires in double row to the St. Ignatius church for the Easter high mass. Along the main street, every bar has already put out the tables and chairs. The locals – and with them we, too – go from place to place, tasting the almond cakes offered for free at this time in every bar. Friends meet, groups condense and disperse, like colorful flocks of bird they are swirling in the maze of the aviary of the town.