THE BELL TOWERS OF THE AMALFI COAST, EXPRESSION OF RELIGIOSITY AND TRADITION
Churches, chapels and small religious shrines spread in the squares and alleys of the Amalfi Coast are the evidence of the strong religiosity which has always animated the citizens of these places which finds expression above all in the amazing beauty of its bell towers.
by Annalisa Russo
The Amalfi Coast is a magical place you will love for its infinite beauties, as a matter of fact it offers not only beaches and relaxation but also art, history, nature trails and traditions. It is known in the world as the “Divina” and nowadays, it is one of the most desirable holiday destinations in the world. So sometimes I think… I am really lucky to live just a few steps away from this paradise! I come back here often and every time I focus my attention on new details. And this is the reason why, today, I will guide you in the discovery of the most beautiful bell towers of the Amalfi Coast and much more… I want to take this opportunity to report some events which will intrigue you. Before starting our tour, let’s immerse ourselves in the heart of the religious tradition of these places.
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Amalfi - The bell tower of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew
Traditions and religion
Before describing some of the most beautiful bell towers of the Amalfi Coast, I feel I should refer to the religiosity of these wonderful places: churches, chapels and small religious shrines spread in the squares and alleys of the Amalfi Coast are the evidence of a faith which has always animated the citizens of the Amalfi Coast. For example, the devotion to the patron saints is heartfelt and the celebrations in their honor are proof of this. Yesterday like today, the patron saints were called upon to protect their citizens from dangers. When you reach the Amalfi Coast it will indeed not be difficult to stumble upon religious celebrations such as processions. The holy week processions are very evocative as well. Did you ever imagine the Amalfi Coast from this point of view? As you can see the Amalfi Coast holds pleasant surprises… our journey is going to start…let’s go!
Vietri and its majestic bell tower
The first stop is Vietri sul Mare, the first municipality of the Amalfi Coast coming from Salerno. Among its symbols, there is the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista with its dome and its bell tower.
The first time I went to Vietri sul Mare some years ago, the first thing I saw from the lay-bay of the highway was the cathedral and it was like it was welcoming me. I then found the bright colors of its dome and its bell tower in the heart of the town.
The majestic bell tower is about 36,5 meters and it is composed of six orders and surmounted by a small dome covered with bright yellow, green and blue majolica tiles. Both the dome and the bell tower, characterized by the same colors, are visible from several points of the town.
Therefore, every time I think about Vietri sul Mare, this architectural beauty comes to my mind. After all, it is almost impossible to visit Vietri sul Mare without paying attention to the majesty of the cathedral, which dominates the landscape, with its dome and its bell tower!
Amalfi's bell tower, among the 20 most beautiful ones in Italy
From Vietri sul Mare we move to Amalfi, the second stop of our tour. Its cathedral (Duomo di Sant’Andrea) is dedicated to the patron saint “Sant’Andrea” and it is for sure one of the symbols for Amalfi and the whole Amalfi Coast. As soon as you reach the homonymous square “piazza Duomo” where the cathedral stands, enjoy the majesty of its staircase, its facade and especially its bell tower! Look up at the sky… and enjoy the bell tower trying to see its details. We read from the web that according to Hundredrooms, the bell tower of Amalfi is among the 20 most beautiful bell towers in Italy. Built between 1108 and 1276, you will feel drawn towards the belfry (the highest part of the bell tower): a cylindrical core surrounded by four small and angular towers decorated with polychromatic majolica tiles. I assure you that there are no words to describe this wonderful bell tower. So, it does merit special attention.
But there is more: the relics of the patron saint have been kept in the crypt of the cathedral since 1208 and Amalfitans celebrate the feast in his honor two times per year: on June 27th and on November 30th. The procession of the patron saint, which ends with la corsa del Santo (the Saint’s run) along the staircase of the cathedral, is one of the most heartfelt events in Amalfi. In other words, the bust of the saint is carried to the top of the staircase. It’s exciting to be in the crowd meanwhile the bearers (men in red) are getting ready to carry the bust of the Saint. You will find yourself inciting them on the notes of Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto and the bust of the Saint will have reached the last step in the blink of an eye. Being in Amalfi during an event like this will give you the opportunity to experience first-hand the Amalfitan history and tradition.
The bell tower of Praiano and its majolica tiles
At last, if you take the State Road 163, you will be next to the Church of San Gennaro in Vettica Maggiore, a village of Praiano. The church stands, just below the State Road, in the homonymous square “piazza San Gennaro”. The dome of the church and the spire of the bell tower covered with majolica tiles, which usually draw the attention of tourists, are visible from the street.
The view from the square is simply spectacular! Here is a curiosity: there is an event that makes this square even more spectacular. Do you know what is it? We are talking about “Luminaria di San Domenico”. This is a summer event you should experience at least once in a lifetime, where fire and light play a starring role.
I do not want to say anything else… it is your turn! Come to the Amalfi Coast to discover new details and attend the events of the Amalfitan tradition.
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