Festivals in Amalfi Coast
Yearlong, the Positano calendar is filled with festivities and religious feste. At Christmas, wreaths are fashioned from bougainvillea, and orchestra and choir concerts pop up all over town. The Nuovo Anno (New Year) is greeted with a big town dance and fireworks on the main beach, as well as other events. In neighboring Montepertuso, a living crèche is enacted. Amalfitans also love to celebrate holidays. The Good Friday candlelight procession, Easter Sunday, and Christmas pageants with crèche competitions (with cribs mounted in the city fountains) are all excuses for lavish family occasions, with special foods and church ceremonies.
Festa dell'Assunta. Positano's star event of the year—and its main religious feast—is held on August 15, with the painting of the Madonna with Child carried from the church to the sea, commemorated by evening fireworks and music on the main beach. Positano.
Corso Internazionale di Musica da Camera. As part of this July festival devoted to chamber music, free summer concerts are staged in atmospheric settings throughout Positano and Sorrento. Lessons and master classes also take place. Positano. www.icmcfestival.com.
Mare, Sole e Cultura. In early July Positano hosts national and international authors, who read from their books in the shady gardens of Palazzo Murat. Concerts take place on the Spiaggia Grande. Positano. www.deliacultura.it.
Positano Premia La Danza Léonide Massine. The first week in September sees this celebration of dance that includes music concerts, dance performances, gallery exhibitions, panels, and an awards ceremony. Positano. www.positanopremialadanza.it.
Ravello Music Festival. Starting in the 1950s, Ravello became famed as the "City of Music," when concerts began to be performed in the spectacular gardens of the Villa Rufolo. The celebrated Ravello Music Festival runs from June to October, with full orchestras performing Wagner, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and slightly less well-known Italian composers such as Scarlatti and Cimarosa. The most popular event is the Concerto all'Alba (dawn concert), when the entire town wakes up at 4:30 to watch the sunrise over the bay to the accompaniment of music from a full symphony orchestra; this event takes place on August 10 to coincide with the shooting stars on the night of San Lorenzo. Viale Wagner 5, Ravello, 84010. 089/858360. 089/8586278. www.ravellofestival.com.
Regata Storica delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare. In this pageant staged every four years in Amalfi, mock battles take place in which four boats, each with eight oarsmen, represent the medieval maritime republics of Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa, and Venice. The prize, held by the winner for a year, is a scale-model gold-and-silver replica of an antique sailing ship. Each of the former republics is represented by 80 participants; Amalfi's musical contingent is adorned in jewel-encrusted costumes on loan from the town museum—doges, dogaressas, merchants, and commoners from the prosperous past come colorfully to life, with the day's festivities culminating in a show of fireworks. Held yearly on the first Sunday in June, with the four cities alternating as the urban stage sets, the pageant is scheduled to be in Amalfi in 2016.
Sagra del Pesce. The last Saturday in September brings this fabulous fish festival on Fornillo beach, with live music and plenty of fish and seafood dishes to taste. Positano. www.festadelpesce.net.
St. Andrew Race. Dedicated to Amalfi's protector of seamen, this race, which takes place on June 27 and November 30, is a religious celebration commemorating the defeat of Barbarossa and the Moslem fleet in 1544. A procession of white-robed men carry a silver-gilt replica of the saint to the harbor, and fishermen at the beach run it back to the cathedral and—in one dramatic dash—straight up its 62 steps. Later, the statue gleams silver in the sunshine of the piazza, as fishermen hang tiny wooden and gilt fish amulets from the saint's left wrist as tokens of gratitude. In the evening, guitar music drifts from many boats, and candlelight flickers. Amalfi.
Torello. At the foot of Ravello's mountain sits the satellite seaside borgo of Torello. On the second Sunday of September, this time-stained medieval hamlet reenacts its Saracen invasion with an unforgettable fireworks display. Replete with exploding stars that whiz through the streets on cables, this has to be seen to be believed. In addition, the town is illuminated for the preceding week, a magical sight even when viewed from Ravello, set 1,000 lofty feet up the hill. Ravello.
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