By Jade Johnston
The most thrilling part of travel is stumbling upon the unexpected. Unexpected architecture, food, customs, or festivals. A few years ago I went to Sardinia, an island south of Italy to visit a good friend who I originally met in Pisa. I did not plan for much of the trip, and had no idea what to expect.
In an attempt to get off the tourist trail, we left Alghero for the small village of Bosa where we had luckily found some couchsurfing hosts. It just so happened that we stumbled into Bosa for the first weekend in August – which just happened to also be the weekend of the Santa Maria del Mare festival.
Santa Maria del Mare
Translating into Madonna of the sea, on the first Sunday in August the whole town of Bosa gathers near the cathedral and the river. Early in the morning, the statue of the Madonna is taken from the cathedral and carried to the river where she is taken aboard a small boat. The procession of boats then slowly makes it’s way upstream while onlookers vie for spots along the footbridges. At the end of the procession, she is returned to the cathedral to rest for another year, while the town proceeds to revel in festivities, music, food, and fireworks.