In Search of Floating Fire Lanterns, Music, and Dancing: Summer Festivals on the Amalfi Coasts
By Shannon Kenny
While you are bound to find fireworks in Italy during your summer visit somewhere or another, timing your visit to the Amalfi Coast to catch one of several must-see festivals during the summer months will greatly enrich your family’s experience, creating timeless memories for the kids and immersing them even deeper in the area’s history and culture as it comes to life during these annual celebrations commemorating local miracles and legends. Below are a few of our favorites:
Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics (Amalfi)
Each year the four most powerful maritime republics of medieval Italy—Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa, and Venice, rotate by city to host a historical regatta in early June. Boats reconstructed exactly as they would have been built around the 12th century are manned by 8 oarsmen dressed in historical dress. In Amalfi, boats race a distance of 2 kilometers, beginning in Capo Grande and ending dramatically in Marina Grande. Each boat proudly displays the flag of their respective republics and boats are adorned with symbolic protectors, in the case of Amalfi, a winged horse and a mermaid.The event is of course preceded by a historical procession.
Festa di Sant’Anna (Ischia)
Every year, in the small bay at Ischia Ponte extending to the Aragonese Castle on an island in the bay, Ischia celebrates the Festa di Sant’Anna on July 26, the feast day of Saint Anne. Each of Ischia’s 6 districts submits an elaborately decorated barge to the parade on the water, representative of the region’s colorful legends and history, such as a reconstruction of a fortified tower or local cathedral. After the ornate floats have passed, a spectacular fireworks display is launched from the castle, and then the castle is lit up dramatically as if on fire. Crowds line the stone bridge to the castle and line up along the shore to watch the show, along with hundreds of boats in the small bay.
Luminaria di San Domenica (Praiano)
At the beginning of August every year, the community of Praiano commemorates a miracle related to local Saint Domenico, in which his mother had a dream while pregnant with him that a dog kept a torch burning, symbolizing that her son would keep the fires of religious faith burning in a time when the faithful had been in a period of despair. The festival takes place in the piazza in front of the cathedral, itself overlooking the sea, with thousands of candles illuminating the outline of the mosaic in the square. Each evening of the 3-day event, fire-themed entertainment and music is held in the piazza. As the sun sets, residents of the town light up all of the terraces and line the streets with oil lamps and votives. On the last night, August 4, following a religious ceremony reenacting the miracle of Saint Domenico, “fire balloons” are released into the air, which float enchantingly out to sea.
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