Photo Friday: Sleeping Beach Umbrellas

Umbrellas on the Beach in Amalfi

Last weekend I was sitting down on the beach in Amalfi, and I loved the way the beach umbrellas looked lined up and wrapped tightly for the night. Since I had some time to kill, I entertained myself by experimenting a bit with my camera. I like how this image came out, with the red and white umbrellas against the strangely blue night sky. Wishing everyone a sunny and fun summer weekend!

Photo Friday: A Midsummer Night Swim in Amalfi

Summer night on the Beach in Amalfi

Last summer, not long after I got my new Nikon point and shoot camera, we went for a night swim in Amalfi. I brought my little tripod along and took a few photos on the beach while others were still swimming. For some reason that I can’t recall any longer, I never downloaded any of the photos on that memory card. Until this week! It felt like being transported back to the warm summer night last July in Amalfi as I crouched down on uncomfortable pebbles on the beach composing the picture in the darkness while listening to the voices and laughter of my friends carrying over the velvety dark water. I was pleasantly surprised to happen across such a nice memory of that beautiful summer night in Amalfi. Wishing you a week full of  beauty and happy surprises!

Ready for the Beach in Amalfi!

Summer Morning in Amalfi

Just before June came to end, I finally made my primo bagno, or the first swim of the season in Amalfi. Better late than never, right? I love swimming in the morning when the water is still calm and the beaches much quieter compared to the afternoon. I arrived in Amalfi early on a Saturday morning, and the colorful umbrellas on Amalfi’s Marina Grande beach were already set up and ready for the busy day ahead.

Amalfi June Marina Grande Beach

My favorite spot for a swim in Amalfi is the eastern end of the beach, which is the free area where you can either rent a sunbed and umbrella or simply throw your towel down on the beach. This is where you’ll find the Amalfitani, who also know that the water is the clearest and most beautiful on this end of the beach. Since it was still in the shade when I arrived, which you can see above, I took a morning walk along the harbor over to where the boats were already starting to arrive filled with visitors coming to Amalfi for the day.

I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of this happy bag my mother sent me for my birthday, which filled in last minute for a beach bag I couldn’t find. Thanks for the pretty bag, Mom! A little bit of sunshine in Amalfi … the perfect beginning to another summer on the Amalfi Coast!

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!

Photo Friday: A Birthday Dinner in Atrani

Summer Night in Atrani

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day … and will be a birthday I’ll never forget! The amazing day came to a close in Atrani, where the Tour Guide and I enjoyed an excellent meal at the Ristorante Da Zaccaria overlooking the sea. You can just spot the lights of the restaurant behind the trees on the left side of this photo. The weather was perfect and warm, the fish was very good and the setting … magical! Atrani is so beautiful at night, and I stopped to take this photo on the way to Amalfi for an evening stroll. Thank you to everyone for the sweet birthday wishes and to my family and friends for making it such an incredible day!