June has arrived … and it’s summer on the Amalfi Coast! If you’re planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast this summer, here is a list of some of the best religious festivals from June to August. Even if you’re not Roman Catholic, timing your holiday on the Amalfi Coast to coincide with a religious festival offers you the chance to experience the excitement, the religious traditions and celebrations that take place each year in the small towns of the Amalfi Coast. Or, if you’re looking for a quiet escape, you’ll want to avoid these holidays as they attract large crowds, create parking nightmares and a lot of noise. (Think booming fireworks at 7am.) But, if you’re like me, you’ll love a good festa and the chance to experience something truly Italian!
June 13th – Festival of Sant’Antonio, Amalfi
The beginning of the summer season of religious festivals on the Amalfi Coast starts with the Festival of Sant’Antonio (St. Anthony) in Amalfi. This festival has one of the most elaborate religious processions that I’ve seen on the Amalfi Coast. The procession of the statue of Sant’ Antonio (above) begins from the church near the Hotel Luna in Amalfi and follows the road through the tunnel to Atrani. The procession then makes its way through Atrani and down to the beach where the statue, religious procession AND the marching band are all loaded onto boats and continue for a boat procession from Atrani to Conca dei Marini to salute the church of Sant’ Antonio there before returning to Amalfi to continue the procession on land through Amalfi and back to the church. At night there is a large fireworks display over the harbor of Amalfi.
June 24th – Festival of San Giovanni Battista, Pontone in Scala
The hamlet of Pontone in Scala celebrates their patron saint San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) on June 24th. This is a wonderful chance to visit this pretty village set in the mountains between Amalfi and Scala. While the procession is small in scale compared to some of the other religious festivals in June, the pretty piazza at the center of the village is always decked out with lights and decorations.
June 27th – Festival of Sant’ Andrea, Amalfi
For me, the top religious festival of the summer is the Festival for Sant’ Andrea (St. Andrew), the patron saint and protector of Amalfi. The celebrations that take place on June 27th are in honor of a miracle that happened on June 27th, 1544 when Sant’ Andrea saved the town from an attack from pirates by stirring up a wild sea storm. (If you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast off season, plan to come for the winter festival for Sant’ Andrea on November 30th.) The religious procession is solemn and beautiful. A large silver bust statue of Sant’ Andrea is carried down the steps of the Duomo of Amalfi, on a procession through the streets of town and down to the Marina Grande beach where a blessing is said to the harbor and boats (that blow their horns to celebrate!). The finale is worth waiting for … when the statue of Sant’ Andrea is run up the grand staircase of the Duomo! The fireworks display after dark is one of the largest of the summer.
June 29th – Festival of San Pietro, Cetara
Just a few days after Sant’ Andrea in Amalfi, the Festival of San Pietro (St. Peter) takes place in Cetara. I experienced this big religious festival for the first time in 2010, and will be going back again each year. The procession of the statue of San Pietro standing on a boat decorated with flowers is carried through town on a long procession. With the strong fishing tradition in Cetara, I felt that this procession was still very deeply connected to the people of Cetara. When the procession reaches the beach, it is particularly beautiful against the lights of town and the medieval watchtower.
July 13th – Festival of Santa Trofimena, Minori
On July 13th, the town of Minori celebrates their patron saint Santa Trofimena during this summer festival. While I’ve experienced the winter celebrations for Santa Trofimena, I’ve not yet been to the summer celebrations. The church of Santa Trofimena in Minori is beautiful, and I’ve heard the procession is very moving. I hope to attend this summer!
July 22nd – Festival of Santa Maria Maddalena, Atrani
Right at the peak of lovely summer weather, the Festival of Santa Maria Maddalena (St. Mary Magdalene) in Atrani is a beautiful religious festival on the Amalfi Coast. The procession begins in the Collegiata dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena, and continues through town and to the beach. After dark you’re in for a treat … a fireworks display from the sea that is fabulous from the beach!
July 27th – Festival of San Pantaleone, Ravello
At the end of July, the town of Ravello takes their turn at celebrating in honor of their patron San Pantaleone (St. Pantaleon). The Piazza Duomo is filled to the brim, and the religious procession follows the narrow streets through town. After dark, a fireworks display is set off on the mountainside below the Piazza Duomo. For a wonderful view, head over to Scala and watch the fireworks with a view overlooking Ravello.
August 1st – Sant’ Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori , Scala
The town of Scala is decorated with colorful lights by the first of August to celebrate Sant’ Alfonso de’ Liguori. Born near Naples in 1696, St. Alphonsus was very closely connected to the town of Scala, where he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. While a religious celebration takes place on August 1st, the decorations are also part of Scala’s celebration for their patron saint on August 10th.
August 10th – Festival for San Lorenzo, Scala
The biggest festival of the year in Scala takes place on August 10th in honor of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence). The celebrations include a religious procession through town and a fireworks display after dark. This is an excellent opportunity to visit the beautiful Church of San Lorenzo in Scala when it is lit up and decorated for the festivities.
August 15th – Ferragosto, Positano and Maiori
Ferragosto is a holiday throughout Italy in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. You’ll find beach parties and events taking place in most on the towns of the Amalfi Coast on August 15th. The celebrations are more elaborate and fun in Positano and Maiori, where the most important churches in both towns are dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, or the Assumption of the Virgin. Positano’s celebrations take place starting on August 14th, and are especially vivid as the history of the arrival of the town’s famous icon of the Black Madonna is recreated. The fireworks displays in Positano and Maiori on August 15th are wonderful from the sea, and there are boat tours from Amalfi that will take you to see both of them.
This is just a taste of some of the biggest summer religious festivals on the Amalfi Coast. There are many more! There are also many sagre (food festivals) and other summer festivals, but I’ll include those in another post. If you’ve experienced a summer religious festival that I’ve left out, please do leave a comment and I’ll add it to a list. Let the summer festivities begin!