Happy Hour and the Bells of San Benedetto in Amalfi

 

I received such happy comments about the church bells from the Ferragosto Procession in Amalfi that I just have to share another video with you all. Turns out I’m not the only one who loves the daily ringing of the bells across Italy! On Tuesday I was in Amalfi for the evening and enjoyed the summer breeze and a Bellini at the Bar Gran Caffè overlooking the packed beach at Marina Grande. The Bellini was inspired by the ever fabulous Lola from Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino. She is always up to something tasty, and on Monday it was the Bellini. Head over to her blog for the recipe! It was the perfect drink for a hot summer evening in Amalfi. Thanks for the inspiration, Lola!

 

flute Image: AO&P

 

[Add: Apparently this is a Bellini themed week around the web! Linda, one of my regular readers, who writes over at Ciao Chow Linda, also had an excellent post about it being Bellini Time this week. Something is in the air! Thanks for sharing, Linda!]

 

When we got up to leave, the bells at the Church of San Benedetto along the main road through Amalfi started ringing. I looked at my boyfriend and said, “I’ve never heard these bells ringing.” He responded, “I’m not sure I have either.” And he’s from Amalfi! So we both stopped to listen, and after a few seconds simultaneously started laughing. Yes, laughing. For me these will always be the bizarre bells of San Benedetto! Was it the Bellini, or do they make you giggle, too?

 

 

 

Giggling aside now for a few moments, the stark facade of the Church of San Benedetto, which is easy to walk right past without noticing, gives no clue of the Baroque interior and beautiful decorations within.  Built at the beginning of the 17th century, San Benedetto is small church with a single nave with four side chapels. Its vaulted ceiling is decorated in typical Baroque elements in a light colors that make the small space seen larger.

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Church Interior

 

The most notable feature of San Benedetto is its decorated ceramic floor from the 1700s, typical in churches along the Amalfi Coast during this period. Walking around the church, you will find lavish floral decorations festooned with fruit and birds. Unfortunately, much of the floor is in poor condition, but here are a couple of shots I took of the areas in better condition:

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Church Floor2

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Church Floor1

 

 

The photos above are from two years ago. After walking by San Benedetto countless times, one day I walked by and the doors were open. Always curious, I popped inside to see what it looked like. Here in Italy you never know quite what you’ll find inside a church. San Benedetto in Amalfi was a lovely surprise!

Out & About: The Wind Surf in Amalfi

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Windsurf in Amalfi above

 

Yesterday I took a nice walk down to Amalfi to go to the beach. (Note to Self: wait until it gets cooler to do that again!) Taking the steps down to Amalfi is one of my favorite walks to do along the Amalfi Coast. There is a moment when you come around a corner and are greeted by this wonderful panorama of the city of Amalfi from above. Surrounded by terraced lemon groves and only the sound of wind blowing through the valley and  perhaps the tinkling of sheep bells in the distance, it is truly a beautiful way to see Amalfi. Yesterday there was an added treat in the form of the Wind Surf cruise ship, a beautiful five masted ship that stops occasionally in Amalfi.

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Windsurf in Amalfi

 

Part of the Windstar cruise line, I have always thought if I could take a dream cruise it would be on one of these ships. They are so beautiful, especially when they come into port with the sails up. What an amazing way to tour the  Mediterranean!

Ferragosto Procession in Amalfi

While I spent most of Ferragosto hiding out in the house from the heat and the crowds, Saturday evening we decided to venture out to see what was happening and to meet friends for dinner on the beach in Atrani. As we drove through Amalfi looking for parking, I heard the distinctive procession bells ringing from the Duomo of Amalfi. I ran into Piazza Duomo just in time to watch the procession celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary come slowly down the grand staircase. How beautiful!

 

 

(You can hear the procession bells I mentioned at the very end of the video.) The procession went down toward the beach and then entered back into the Piazza Duomo, but by that time I was on my way to Atrani. We had a wonderful dinner at Le Arcate, one of my favorite restaurants on the Amalfi Coast, overlooking the lights of Atrani shimmering on the sea. In the distance we watched Maiori’s fabulous fireworks display while enjoying the best tasting anguria (watermelon) that I’ve had this summer. What a lovely evening!

 

Head over to Positano My Life to check out Massimo’s photos of the Ferragosto celebrations in Positano here and here.

The Dog (or Cat) Days of Summer on the Amalfi Coast

  Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Puffy on Couch

 

We have definitely entered into the dog days of summer here on the Amalfi Coast. Or, around my house I should perhaps say the cat days of summer:

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Puffy Passed Out

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Regal Puffy in Window

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Puffy Close

 

Puffy doesn’t seem to be able to do much at all during these giorno afosi, literally  “sultry days,” which is what I found in my Italian dictionary for “dog days.” He comes into the house and collapses in one long, stretched out pile in the coolest spot he can find, often near a fan or on the marble windowsill. I have to admit he pretty much captures the effect this weather seems to have on me, too. I wish I could say that my recent absence from blogging here on Ciao Amalfi was the result of time spent relaxing like my fortunate little cat Puffy. While I have been enjoying a bit of time away from the computer, it has also been a very busy month so far for me. Busy is great news with respect to my travel writing, and I am pleased to be adjusting to a full schedule. With the heat and the summer crowds, most days the most peaceful spot is right at home. Just ask Puffy – he’s the expert!

 

What are you doing to stay cool this summer?

Buon Ferragosto!

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Positano Lights

Festival Lights for Ferragosto in Positano

 

August 15th is an important holiday here in Italy called Ferragosto, which celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin into heaven. One of the most important holidays of the years and a bank holiday, Ferragosto is a day usually spent with family and friends enjoying the warm summer weather. One of the busiest periods of the year for Italian tourists, the Amalfi Coast is regularly packed during the Ferragosto holiday. While it is a crowded time, a visit to the Amalfi Coast during the Ferragosto holiday offers more than just sun and beautiful beaches. Ferragosto is also an important religious holiday in both Positano and Maiori, where there are elaborate festivals in honor of the Virgin Mary. These celebrations are a great chance to see firsthand the significance of Ferragosto as a religious holiday.

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Positano Night Positano with Ferragosto lights

 

Positano’s picturesque church of Santa Maria Assunta is located just steps from the beach and is home to an important 13th century Byzantine icon depicting the Black Madonna. On Ferragosto this icon is taken from the church and carried on an elaborate procession through the city. The beaches and harbor of this famous seaside town are packed with visitors and boats that come to see the splendid firework displays that takes place at midnight on the water. Just down the coast to the east, the city of Maiori celebrates their patron saint and protector Santa Maria a Mare on August 14th and 15th. A beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary is processed through the town ending with a dramatic procession of the statue up the 127 steps to the church. In both Positano and Maiori, Ferragosto is one of the biggest celebrations of the year.

 

To read more about Ferragosto, head over to Becoming Italian Word by Word where Dianne Hales has a great features today about the holiday. Brush up on your Ferragosto vocabulary and have yourself a wonderful day. Buon Ferragosto!