Completely by chance, Id randomly picked up a guide book on Amalfi, whilst strolling thru the streets of the town; and chanced upon the description of this local festival – that would coincidentally happen 2 days from then, whilst we were still on the coast.
We ll it sounded exciting enough (and something different), to make us want to drive back to the town again (we were staying in Sorrento and it was an easy hour’s drive).
Every 26th June, Amalfi celebrates St Andrew’s Feast day (the town s patron saint).
Twice a year, the Saint’s statue is taken out from the cathedral and paraded around the town in a a sweet, incense filled procession. With hymns being chanted throughout – its moving even if you are not Catholic or devout.
The highlight (and for us the spectable of the trip), was when at sunset, the procession (now escorted by the town police’s marching band) returns to the cathedral. The statue is now handed over to to a group of selected fishermen (its quite an honor to be amongst the ‘selected’ as San Andrea is considered to be the patron saint of all fishermen). Now get this – in one go – without pause or breaking stride, they carry the lift size statue up the steps, into the cathedral; and onto the altar. ALL 150 STEPS IN ONE GO 😀 .
For these few minutes, the entire town, families, those that have moved on and abroad, but are back just for the feast, have all gathered in the square below the cathedral; more than an hour earlier. Line up in good time so you can see the excitement; and cheer on (more like roar) and applaud the ‘pescatori’!
That excitement is simmmppply contagious! The townsfolk are AMMAAAAZZING in explaining the local customs.
Get this – procession over, crowd disperses, square s cleaned up, trattoria tables back on the pavement – all in less than 15 minutes. WOW. This is something that never ceases to amaze me..Inspite of the thhhouussands of people and the excitement of the moment, everything is so seamlessly done.
After dinner (its Italy – ofcourse there ll be a big dinner 😄 , the crowd’s back just before midnight. But now – every one’s by the waterfront. Bang at midnight there s a spectacular fireworks display. Annndd that s when everyone then troops home (its a small family town – no all night partying here 😉 ).