The highlight of the year in Escolca is the feast of San Simone; It is a fantastic experience to let yourself be filled with the joy of these three days of celebration, a feast of antonomasia from Saturday to Monday, a week before or after Pentecost (April/May) which literally involves all the villagers who spend all the preceding week preparing for it.
San Simone is not celebrated in the village but a few kilometres away in a hamlet of the same name, between the neighbouring villages of Mandas, Gergei and Villanovafranca. The masonry of the hamlet’s constructions (known as ‘Lolle’) is very simple and spartan, these structures serve both as houses and as meeting places. The celebration is inaugurated with a long, slow procession where the saint is taken on a cart pulled by oxen, from Escolca to San Simone (at the end of the celebration San Simone returns to Escolca in the same way) going through Gergei on the way and Mandas on the return. The inhabitants of these hamlets participate with great religious respect, covering the road with flowers as the procession approaches.
Amongst the many fascinating aspects of San Simone is the fact that all the different elements naturally meld together; the celebration for the saint unites with a pagan tradition that has remained alive for centuries – the sacred and the profane – millenary traditions combine with recent customs until they become inseparable. Another particular aspect is the enthusiastic and large scale participation of the younger inhabitants who are not only in the front line of the celebrations, but often become a driving force, sometimes taking on onerous tasks of organiztion and promotion San Simone is an exclusive event, organized by the families of Escolca, owners of a ‘Lolla’, who decide, by means of a personal invitation, who can participate in the celebration: those who don’t receive the honour of such an invite are not well received! No local authority or other organization has a role; those who participate do so as simple citizens.
The square in the middle of the hamlet becomes the scene of solemn religious rites but also of dancing and celebration until the morning. A key moment is ‘su giru ‘e is lollas’ which happens in the middle of the night between Saturday and Sunday and involves musicians, followed by other participants, visiting all the ‘Lolle’ to play music and dance: every house holder is expected to offer the ‘guests’ entetainment, food and drink The first part of the festival concludes when the procession returns, in the main square of Escolca, on Sunday, after sunset: The saint is returned to his resting place in the church whilst the locals look on in religious silence. The last part happens on the Monday when the same square hosts a more conventional rural celebration based on sweet dishes, songs and traditional Sardinian dancing
If you are interested in seeing the feast of San Simone we can offer you various solutions which will permit you to experience, at first hand, one of the best preserved and most attractive of Sardinian celebrations.
It is also possible to visit”IN VIAGGIO” the permanent exhibition of the photographer Ivo Pirisi located in the Casa Seu.
The exhibition is a mosaic with a strong anthropological impact, both delirious and dreamlike, pagan and holy, in a documentary showcase of the ancient traditions of the area.