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!

“Creepy Italian Trees”

A sure sign that spring is just around the corner here on the Amalfi Coast is when the tree trimming begins. As those of you who live here or have visited here may have noted, there are a lot of platano trees, or plane trees (known as sycamores in North America) along the Amalfi Coast. I love these trees in the summer, and I don’t even mind sweeping up their large leaves in the autumn, but this time of year I find them, well, kind of creepy. I am reminded of that scene from Under the Tuscan Sun where Patti, the character played by Sandra Oh, is admiring one of those characteristic tall and pointy cypress trees in Tuscany:

Patti: I don’t like these trees. They know things.
Frances: And they know that we know that they know.
Patti: Yeah. Creepy Italian trees.

While I am not sure I have ever found a cypress particularly creepy, I laugh at that scene every time. I would, however, like to nominate the platano for the creepy Italian tree award. Here’s why:

After the spring pruning, with their knobby and crooked branches reaching toward the sky, the platano trees make me think of one of those bad horror movie scenes where the scary hand reaches out of the dark or a grave. So they have become for me the creepy hands of spring.

Okay, enough with the dramatic photos. But you have to admit that even in the sun they are a bit strange. Here is a row of plane trees along the beach in Maiori two years ago:

Do you have a nomination for a creepy Italian tree?

An evening passeggiata in Maiori

Maiori

Norman watchtower and Al Castello, Maiori

Yesterday the sun came out after almost a week of rain and clouds, and everyone seems to have had the same idea … time for a walk! We headed toward Maiori, because this time of year it gets the sunlight longer in the late afternoon than Amalfi, which is my usual favorite city for making a passeggiata, or walk. Maiori has a lovely, tree-lined promenade along the sea, and a port with the nice views of the city above. Everyone was out enjoying the good weather, from families, kids of all ages, people walking dogs, doing errands, to friends catching up in the sunshine. These are the moments when you can catch a true glimpse of life here on the Amalfi Coast, without all the hubbub of summer and the masses of tourists. While the weather is certainly not so lovely this time of year, it is a great time to visit the Amalfi Coast if you want to see day to day life here.

From the port of Maiori there is also a lovely view of the Amalfi Coast and Ravello, which is particularly nice at sunset. Today it is miserably rainy and foggy again, which makes these few hours yesterday especially sweet!