A human river. Nine hundred devoted curridoris, men of all ages, dressed in white robes with a cord tied around the waist and barefoot, carry on their shoulders the ‘simulacrum’ of santu Srabadori, which represents Christ in his Transfiguration. The army of Salvatore’, led by a flag bearer, quickly moves forward from the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cabras as far as the little village of San Salvatore di Sinis. Seven kilometres non-stop, amidst sweat, dust, tears and strong emotions. This is the charm of the Corsa degli Scalzi, a celebration of faith and folklore, with the 2023 edition setting off at dawn on Saturday, 2 September. It starts with the celebration of the mass. Then, in a solemn and evocative atmosphere, comes the procession along the festively decorated town streets. At 7 am, the is curridoris are ready. The tension grows as they move along the dusty, dirt tracks in the fields of the Sinis peninsula, while the morning sun is already warm. Their faces express a sense of responsibility and pride, representing the 'protectors' of the Cabras community and evoking intense, palpable devotion, which emerged when a group of fishermen and peasants of the village saved the saint from Saracen pirates in the early 17th century.
The magical, electrifying atmosphere intensifies as the start of the race draws near. The start is at the exit of Cabras. The crowd applauds the saint, who is about to 'travel' to the village of San Salvatore, where he has already been celebrated for the past week. Day and night, the scent of mullet and roast pork wafts through the dusty alleyways of the village, a film set for ‘spaghetti westerns’ in the 1960s and 1970s. By eight o’clock, the mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends waiting for the barefoot runners become restless. The Vernaccia, a speciality wine of the area, offered to all those present, helps to attenuate this. The arrival of the 900 runners is imminent. ‘Evviva santu Srabadori’ (Hurrah for Santu Srabadori): the chant is yelled out loudly by the barefoot runners as they approach. The trail of white approaches, followed by a huge cloud of dust. On arrival come firecrackers, cheers and tears - the ritual is completed and the village is coloured in white. The procession continues, accompanied by is coggius - songs in honour of the saint - up to the little seventeenth-century church of San Salvatore. The next day - Sunday, 3 September - the simulacrum ‘returns home’ before sunset, carried back to Cabras where, between worship, the sound of the launeddas, dances and performances, another celebration begins. Leading the way are dishes based on mullet bottarga (salted roe), the gold of Cabras.
In the 17th century, the inimitable coast of Cabras, although surrounded by basins separating it from the hinterland, was constantly under attack by the Saracens coming in from the sea. Hence the origins of the Corsa degli Scalzi (Race of the Barefoot Runners), a historical-religious re-enactment of an event dating back to 1619, defending against an invasion of the Moors. To protect themselves from the advancing Saracens and to secure the statue of Srabadori, the people of Cabras devised a plan. Before fleeing, they tied branches of leafy boughs to their bare feet in order to raise as much dust as possible and thus seem much more numerous. The stratagem worked perfectly, as the Saracens, in fear of having to face a large army, withdrew. The village and the simulacrum were saved, thanks to the ardour of those with no choice but to flee. Since then, the ritual is repeated every year in memory of the miraculous event, in order to renew the vows made to the saint. And with well-defined rules: there are 14 groups of curridoris, each in turn composed of 14 teams, each with five runners. Seven run on Saturday, seven on Sunday. Fate decides who carries the saint to the village of San Salvatore and who carries it back to Cabras.
Sea, lagoons, food and wine, events, archaeological sites, museums and outdoor sports. During the celebration, there is no shortage of reasons to associate to the event the discovery of natural treasures in the marine area of the Sinis peninsula and the endless and captivating cultural attractions. The Cabras territory, extending over one hundred square kilometres, was the 'cradle' of all civilizations that have characterised the prehistory and history of Sardinia. The greatest piece of evidence of the protohistoric period is the Nuragic necropolis of Mont'e Prama, ten kilometres from the village. It is here that one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries in the Mediterranean basin was unearthed, consisting of more than five thousand fragments, now reassembled, of about thirty statues of fighters - archers, warriors and boxers - the famous Giants of Mont’e Prama, part of which can be admired in the archaeological museum of Cabras. One millennium before Christ, there was already a town in the area, where the village of San Salvatore stands today. There is also evidence of the population of the coastal area where the Phoenicians founded Tharros in the 8th century BC, which later became a Carthaginian colony and, in the end, a flourishing Roman city. Today, you can admire the ruins next to the blue background of the sea. Tharros was also the capital of the Judicate of Arborea, which was later abandoned around the year one thousand due to the continuous incursions of pirates and was partly dismantled to build Oristano inland. Also emerging in that period was the village of Masone de Capras, the ancestor of Cabras.