A Night of Music & Magic in Scala

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Concert

 

The moon, accompanied by her bright friend Venus, shone brightly over the Amalfi Coast a few nights ago. Along the moonlit and silent coastline, the ruins of the once magnificent Basilica di Sant’Eustachio tucked up high in the mountains about Amalfi were aglow. A magical night in Scala was about to begin. As I scurried down the steps to the ruins, I heard something familiar being recited. It was an excerpt of Homer’s Odyssey telling of the brave Odysseus and his voyage past the deadly sirens, long thought to have once inhabited the coastline along the Sorrento Penninsula. Thus began an enchanting evening!

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Moon Olive Trees  La luna through the olive trees

 

The event was called Il Viaggio in Italia (The Journey in Italy) featuring solo performances by great Italian singer Lucio Dalla interspersed with readings by Marco Alemanno of writings by travelers to Italy. It was held at the ruins of the Basilica di Sant’Eustachio in Scala, which I’ve written about here on Ciao Amalfi. I couldn’t think of a more evocative setting on such a beautiful night on the Amalfi Coast. After squirming uncomfortably in the pews that had been carried down the steps and placed in the church (now I know why the church that got ride of them did so), we got up and started exploring the ruins. Seeing them inside for the first time on a moonlit night with the music and recitations in the background was truly magical!

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Sant Eustachio1

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Sant Eustachio2

 

It was amazing to stand right at the base of the church and see the details so closely. I was able to distinguish for the first time the original details and what was added during a restoration to stabilize the ruins in 2002. For those architecture fans, here is a video with more detail:

 

 

 

 

And for those fans of Lucio Dalla, here is a video of him singing one of my favorite songs called Caruso.

 

 

 

 

I apologize that the video is cut off, but I have a strange problem with  my camera that prevents me from making videos much longer than two minutes (or they will be stuck forever on my camera). If you want to hear the entire song, here is a moving video of Lucio Dalla performing Caruso at Naples’ San Paolo stadium. 

 

 

 

 

This concert was the opening event for a conference taking place in Scala today and tomorrow called Grand Tour: Viaggio in Italia. In an area of Italy famous for its many visitors today, it seems quite appropriate to go back to the origins of today’s tourism, the Grand Tour, which brought so many visitors from across Europe to Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries. While these original tourists brought canvases and sketchbooks rather than the digital cameras of today, they marked the trail down to Naples, further south to Calabria and onward to Sicily. These were the tourists who wrote home telling of the beauty of southern Italy, its impressive historic sites, its people, culture and traditions, and who knew they had found a place at once remarkable and unforgettable. Avanti viaggiatori! Onward travelers!

Wishing on the Stars on the Amalfi Coast

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog San Lorenzo

 

As I spend my first whole month of August on the Amalfi Coast, I am learning a lot of new things. The first is that I finally know what really crowded here really means. And I mean the really crowded, no place to park, no beach chair left unoccupied, mobs of Italian tourists sort of crowded. It ain’t pretty, and let’s just leave it at that. The up side is that I am seeing so many festivals and events for the first time, which has been a great deal of fun. Tonight is the festival for San Lorenzo, that patron of the city of Scala on the Amalfi Coast. Most of the year a quiet and sleepy little town, you will be hearing more about Scala over the coming month as I write about the Scala Meets New York festival starting tomorrow.

 

nottedistelle

 

The town is all set up for the festivities, which started yesterday evening. I am looking forward to seeing the procession, hearing the music by a band from Lecce, and seeing the fireworks display over the city for the first time. I just read a fun article online at Italy Magazine about the night of San Lorenzo that I had to share here. I didn’t know before that tonight is a night for wishing on falling stars, called the “tears of San Lorenzo,” that come from the Perseidi meteor shower. You can also head over to Bleeding Espresso where Michelle wrote a lovely post last August 10th about the La notte di San Lorenzo. All across Italy, people will be outdoors looking for falling stars and making wishes. Speaking for this hopeless romantic, you can bet I will be in Scala with eyes searching the dark night sky for shooting stars ready to make my wish!

 

May all your wishes come true!!

Out & About: Night Bells and Moon over Ravello

Ravello is a beautiful sight at night with its churches glowing and the city lights sparkling up and down the Amalfi coastline. The other night while passing through Scala, Ravello’s little-known and charming next door neighbor, the bells of the Duomo of Ravello filled the valley down to Atrani with their rich sound and the moon cast a lovely glow over the scene. I captured a bit of it (plus a motorino zooming by!) on a this short video. Enjoy!

Tempting Tuesday: Piazzetta di Pontone


Two weeks ago I promised to show you what was around this beautiful little corner in Pontone. Surely one of the rarely visited cities on the Amalfi Coast, the little town of Pontone has some excellent restaurants, a peaceful little Piazzetta, and wonderful views. Just a few steps down and around the corner you see above, you pass by a little bar called Blu Bar before entering the Piazzetta di Pontone. In the picturesque little square you will find tables arranged for the Blu Bar where you can sit and enjoy a cool drink, the church of San Giovanni Battista, a little fountain, and a terrace with a spectacular vista. For this week’s Tempting Tuesday, I have a series of photos to show you one of my favorite stopping places on the walk from Scala to Amalfi.

Church of San Giovanni Battista

Blu Bar

Perfect stop for resting during a hike on a hot summer day.

Fountain in the Piazzetta

Sculpture by Amalfitan artist Franco Mangiri

Pontone and surrounding mountains

Spectacular view of Amalfi from Pontone

There is so much to discover in each little town on the Amalfi Coast. For me, Pontone is a peaceful little respite from the crowds of the more popular cities during these busy summer months. It is a perfect spot to get away, have a nice lunch or dinner, and get a taste of the true peace and quiet of life up in the mountains on the Amalfi Coast. I hope you enjoyed this relaxing visit to Pontone for today’s Tempting Tuesday!

PS: The feast of San Giovanni Battista is coming up soon on June 24th!

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Tempting Tuesday: San Filippo Neri in Pontone

Tempting Tuesday: Scala Porte Aperte

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Tempting Tuesday: San Filippo Neri in Pontone

The city of Scala on the Amalfi Coast is located in the mountains high above Amalfi. Long before there was a road connecting the two cities, there were the steps. About 1,300 people say, but I haven’t bothered to count them. Some things, I have decided, are better left unknown. There are old photographs I have seen of farmers carrying their lemons and grapes in baskets on their shoulders up and down these steps to market in Amalfi. And it wasn’t all that long ago when Scala kids scampered up and down those steps every day to school in Amalfi. I met a man in Scala who said he used to make it down in 22 minutes, a good ten minutes faster than my best time. I wish I had asked him how long it took him to get home going up the steps, which is a trip I have and will continue to avoid. (Why go up the steps when they go down just as well??)

The steps on the Amalfi Coast are a way of life here. When you start exploring the areas around Scala and Ravello on foot, you quickly see how the cities were originally built around the footpaths. The architecture does not revolve around the roads like we are so accustomed to in other parts of the world. That is why you really must get out and climb the steps and explore the cities here on foot. When you take the steps heading down from Scala to Amalfi, you walk right through the atrium between the campanile and the entrance to the Church of San Filippo Neri in Pontone (top photo). Every time I walk through there I have the same feeling of amazement as I ponder the connection between the church, the city, and the neighboring houses. Everything is connected! I always knew there was something interesting to see beyond the closed doors I usually walk past, and two weekends ago I was able to find out during Scala Porte Aperte. How exciting!


Founded during the 12th century by the de Bonito family in Scala, the church was originally dedicated to San Matteo Evangelista. Inside, the little church is divided into three naves in a most unusual arrangement of two low and unevenly spaced arches. The current Baroque decorations were added in the 17th-18th centuries when the church was rededicated to San Filippo Neri. I wish I could offer more information about this change, and about the followers of San Filippo Neri in Pontone during that time period, but there is little that I have been able to dig up at the moment. I chose this church to write about today since May 26th is the feast day of San Filippo Neri. I think the procession and celebrations for the Saint were held last weekend, since I heard church bells ringing in Pontone that I don’t usually hear. Now I know for next year to be better prepared!


You can get a sense of the unevenly spaced arches in the photo above, which gives the interior a strangely compact and slightly unsettling feeling.

If you go through a little door on the right side of the church, you will find a chapel with a large crucifix made in stucco dating from the 14th century.

I found the tile floor of San Filippo Neri surprisingly bright and pretty. I haven’t seen a floor quite like this on the Amalfi Coast. I just love these little surprises you find in each church here!

Down a few more steps on this picturesque pathway and you will arrive in the Piazzetta of Pontone, which has a lovely vista looking down the valley to Amalfi. Stop by this blog next Tuesday and I will show you what is just around that corner!

Related Posts

Tempting Tuesday: Scala Porte Aperte

Tempting Tuesday: Ravello’s Villa Rufolo

Tempting Tuesday: Ravello Festival 2009

Tempting Tuesday: Sorrento’s Surprising Duomo