Festival of Sant’ Antonio in Amalfi & Atrani – 2011

One of the things I love most about the religious festivals on the Amalfi Coast is that I feel like I see and experience something new every year. Not only are there different events planned, but there are also so many different spots to watch the processions and traditions to learn about. This year for the Festival of Sant’ Antonio that took place in Amalfi on June 13th, I had the chance to visit the Church of Sant’ Antonio in depth as well as watching the boat procession from Atrani and Amalfi. The festival began for me when I came across the marching band from Minori in Amalfi’s Piazza Duomo getting things started with a festive song. This is one of my favorite bands on the Amalfi Coast, and I was happy they were playing for this festival. Let’s get things started!

There was something Felliniesque about the music and the setting, especially with the Japanese couple having their wedding photographs taken on the steps of the Duomo at the same time. Love moments like these! We following the band toward the church of Sant’ Antonio in Amalfi, which is located next to the Hotel Luna Convento, one of Amalfi’s great hotels that has been family owned for generations. The hotel is connected to the church by a 13th-century cloister, which dates from when the church was founded as a monastery dedicated in San Francesco in 1220. Instead of climbing the steep staircase up to the church of  Sant’ Antonio, we stopped by the Hotel Luna Convento to say hello to the owner, Andrea, who is a childhood friend of the Tour Guide. I was admiring the cloister and Andrea suggested we go up above to take a look around, which was an opportunity we gladly took him up on! From above the cloister there was a great view of the bell tower for the church of Sant’ Antonio.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Campanile

And an even better view down into the 13th-century cloister. Across the cloister in the photo below you can see some of the simple stained glass along the nave of the church of Sant’ Antonio. This church is so tucked into the buildings of Amalfi that have been built up all around it that it can be hard to spot!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Cloister Hotel Luna

This cloister is described often as one of the most peaceful spots in Amalfi, and most days it probably is. But not with a marching band in it! The portico area in front of the church of Sant’ Antonio is so small that there isn’t a lot room for the procession to get started and have the band out there at the same time. So they wait in the cloister until the procession is ready to begin.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Marching Band Hotel Luna

This year I was so captivated by the architecture of the Hotel Luna Convento and the church of Sant’ Antonio that I just barely caught the procession as it was leaving the church.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Church Stained Glass

This is the original entrance to the cloister of San Francesco, which is flanked by two ancient granite columns. Although I cut it off in the photo below, above the door is a lunette with traces of a fresco depicting Joseph and the baby Jesus.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Antique Door

I resisted the temptation to go running after the procession and instead stepped into the church of Sant’ Antonio. It was peaceful and empty after the procession had left, and the Tour Guide and I had a special visit of the church by Andrea from the Hotel Luna Convento. The original Gothic design of the church has been covered by Baroque decorations, which is very common in churches in Italy. Behind the altar are beautiful wooden chorus stalls dating from 1593.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Church Nave

While I had been inside the church of Sant’ Antonio before, I had never been below to see the crypt of the church, which dates back to when the church was dedicated to San Francesco. Down in the crypt there is a Roman sarcophagus dating from the 3rd century with a tombstone mounted on the wall above it from the 14th century.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Crypt Roman

On the other side of the crypt is a beautiful altar decorated in polychrome marble with paintings depicting scenes from the life of San Francisco.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Crypt Altar

After another tour through part of the Hotel Luna Convento, we said goodbye to Andrea and headed over to Atrani to watch the procession. This is the only festival that is shared between Amalfi and Atrani, because the church of Sant’ Antonio is located between the two towns. The procession follows the road from Amalfi to Atrani around the Collegiata di Santa Maria Meddalena. Here you can see the procession with the men in the red jackets carrying the statue of Sant’ Antonio as the procession returns to the center of Atrani.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Procession in Atrani

I love the sound of bells of Santa Maria Maddalena when they ring for religious festivals. I thought you might like to hear, too!

The procession continues through Atrani and eventually makes its way down to the beach, where the statue of Sant’ Antonio is carefully loaded onto a boat. They did this it in a different spot this year, just near the Le Arcate restaurant. The location seemed to make it more challenging to transfer the statue onto the boat. If you listen, just about everyone had an opinion about how it should be done!

But the important thing is that the statue made it onto the boat safely, and after some work it was stabilized and ready for the boat procession to start.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Statue on Boat

Here’s a closer look at the statue of Sant’ Antonio on the boat. The priest and the religious procession then gets on this boat. Two years ago, I had the chance to ride on this boat during the boat procession of Sant’ Antonio, which was quite the experience!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Statue

I was so distracted watching the statue that I missed my favorite part … watching the marching band get on their boat! Here they are all loaded up and ready for the procession. There’s just something about a marching band playing on a boat that makes me so happy!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Marching Band on Boat

Slowly the procession started to leave the small harbor of Atrani. You can hear the priest speaking, the marching band playing on their boat and all the boats blowing their horns.

Here you can spot the statue of Sant’ Antonio (again, look for the guys in the red jackets) and the marching band boat to the right. This is truly a unique procession, and one of my favorites of the year on the Amalfi Coast!

Festival of Sant'Antonio Boat Procession Amalfi 2011

The procession heads toward Amalfi and continues down the coast to Conca dei Marini to salute the church of Sant’ Antonio located there before returning to Amalfi. Once in Amalfi, the statue is unloaded and the procession continues through the town to the Duomo of Amalfi.

Festival of Sant'Antonio Boat Procession Hotel Luna Amalfi

I didn’t catch the procession as it arrived in Amalfi … but it’s nice to know I have that experience waiting for me next year!

2011 Regatta in Venice Annulled

Regatta Results 2011

I wish it was with happier news that I was writing this morning about the results of the 56th Regata Storica delle Reppubliche Marinare that took place in Venice yesterday. No, I’m not sad that Amalfi didn’t win, or came in a close second like they did in 2009 and 2010. I’m disappointed to have to report that everyone lost yesterday, in what will likely be remembered as one of the worst regattas in the fifty-six year history of this event.

As the race was run, and by all accounts in Venice, the Amalfi team won. The team had a fantastic race, managing to pull ahead of the favored team Pisa to win by a photo finish. Surprisingly just like how Pisa won last year. Unfortunately, there were problems with the course that were contested, and problems with the Pisa team being remarkably poor losers. (They should have taken a lesson from the Amalfi team that lost by a similarly small margin last year, but in a much more respectable way.) But the more serious problems were the issues with the course. Even though Amalfi was announced the winner, it wasn’t long before not only Amalfi’s win but also the positions of the successive Pisa and Genoa teams were contested. Apparently, it was said by the Venice team that came in last, that they were the only ones that stayed on course and that the other teams should be disqualified. And that is exactly what happened. After nearly two hours of tension, meetings with the judges and the mayors of Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice, it was decided that the only result that could not be contested was just to annul the regatta. What a shame. I don’t understand in detail yet just what happened with the course or the buoys or the judging, but it seems like that is where the real problems are. My hope is that something positive can come of this in taking better steps to organize the event. And I also hope that a shadow won’t be cast over this event, which is supposed to represent the high points in the history of each of the four great sea republics of Italy.

The online newspaper Il Foglio Costa d’Amalfi has covered the event in great detail, and published an article this morning focused on who really won and who lost at this year’s regatta. (It’s in Italian, but there are videos at the end from the RAI 2 TV coverage.) They expressed disappointment that this type of debaucle had to mark the year that Italy celebrates its 150th anniversary. It is disappointing. But what is the most disappointing to me is that the all teams have to walk away from the regatta with such a bad experience, after a year of very hard work. I am sad for the Amalfi team that has been practicing so hard all winter and spring and had an excellent race yesterday.

The Regata Storica delle Reppubliche Marinare is in Amalfi next year, but I’m afraid that the bitter feeling left from this year’s regatta in Venice will likely hang over the event for many years to come.

Summer Religious Festivals on the Amalfi Coast

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!

Festival of Sant Antonio Amalfi

The Arrival of Sant' Antonio by boat in Amalfi

June

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.

Festival of San Pietro in Cetara

The procession of San Pietro in Cetara

July

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.

Procession for Sant' Andrea in Amalfi

Procession for Sant' Andrea in Amalfi

August

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.

Festival of La Maddalena in Atrani

Festival of La Maddalena in Atrani

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!

Eat your way through Calabria

Calabrian Table Tour Italy

Many of the regular readers of Ciao Amalfi will remember my friend Cherrye Moore from My Bella Vita who has contributed many guest posts about the beautiful beaches of Calabria – the region in southern Italy she calls home. If you follow her blog, you already know about Cherrye’s passion for sharing the culture, food and lifestyle of Calabria. If you’ve been thinking of visiting this beautiful region, I have a real treat for you! Cherrye has collaborated with Tania Pascuzzi from In Italy Tours, located in the gorgeous town of Tropea, to create the Calabria Table Tour: Eating Through Calabria with Tania and Cherrye.  I’m dreaming of joining them on this culinary tour through Calabria! Read more about the tour in Cherrye & Tania’s words …

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Calabrian Table Tour – October 16-23, 2011

With 500 miles of coastline, three national parks and thousands of acres of olive trees, vineyards and citrus groves, Calabria is one of the most diverse regions in the bel paese. That diversity, combined with the enduring influence of Calabria’s past conquerors, notably the Greeks, Spaniards and Arabs, is echoed in Calabria’s unique cuisine.

Join us, Cherrye Moore and Tania Pascuzzi, on our first annual tour through Calabria as we venture from table to table, introducing you to our local friends, chefs and cooks in the region.

We have handpicked our favorite towns and villages, many of which you’d never find in a guidebook, so we can offer you a comprehensive, authentic culinary experience. This Calabrian Table Tour is the first in a series of exclusive cooking, food and wine events that we will be offering twice a year.

From Italy’s largest national park in the northern Calabria to the rugged coastline of the sun-kissed south, we have spent years eating our way through Calabria … and we want to share our Calabria with you, one table at a time.

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For more information, check out the Calabrian Table Tour itinerary and read more about the lovely ladies – Cherrye Moore and Tania Pascuzzi – who have created this delicious tour through the region of southern Italy they love. If you decide to join this fabulous tour, please do let me know, because I’ll want to hear all about it!