EASTER ON THE AMALFI COAST
If you love folklore and traditions, spending Easter on the Amalfi Coast could be the right choice. Attending the many peculiar rituals here, you will surely live an experience full of emotions.
by Barbara Iovine
If you visit the Amalfi Coast during the Easter period, you will certainly realize how heartfelt and engaging this holiday can be here. All the coastal towns actively participate in the programming of unmissable events, organizing local festivals and religious celebrations that bring the Passion of Christ to life. Despite the fact that these are very ancient festivities, a strong air of sacredness hovers among the songs and the religious services, steeped in tradition and mysticism, today as in the past. Do not miss the opportunity to take part in these celebrations: experience the emotional transport of the Via Crucis, with the characteristic songs of the “Battenti”, and enjoy the delicious traditional food!
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"Battenti" in Minori ©Marco Piscopia
Religious events during Easter week
In the entire coastal area, it is widespread the tradition of the “Battenti”: hooded men dressed in white tunics, who, as a sign of penance, beat their breasts with their bare hands during religious processions. These scenes, always accompanied by songs and prayers, are able to evoke truly mystical scenarios. Watching them is a unique experience.
Below I show you some events you can take part in during Easter on the Amalfi Coast.
In Atrani on Holy Thursday it takes place one of the most touching and longest celebrations in the area. During this ceremony, the Battenti, illuminated by softly lit torches, parade while praying and singing until they reach Amalfi.
On Holy Friday instead, in Amalfi, the Passion of Christ is not to be missed. Every year after sunset this procession comes to life near the Amalfi Cathedral: this choir of hooded people in white tunics sings the agony of the death of Christ, while they carry his statue and that of Mary surrounded by lighted torches. The procession proceeds slowly to the small church of San Nicola dei Greci, near the Town Hall, where Jesus is then placed in the tomb.
The Via Crucis also takes place in Maiori and Ravello, but it is in Minori that this event is considered one of the most evocative and moving on the entire coast. The procession takes place on the evening of Holy Thursday, and also here the Battenti have a part in the show.
They walk behind a large cross through not only the streets of the city center but also along its hamlets, parading through all of the city until the dawn of the following day. A particularly exciting moment is when, during the stops, the parade gathers in a circle, giving voice to ancient songs. It is interesting to know that their songs have remained identical to the originals from the fourteenth century and are handed down orally from father to son. Their songs are divided into "tono e vasce" (low tone) on Thursday and "tono ‘e coppe"(high tone) on Friday: it is certainly a masterful show, made unique by the perfect fusion of the two vocal tones.
Another beautiful artistic tradition of Minori is the creation of colored sawdust carpets.
These are pieces of art made with the use of poor materials only: sawdust mixed with marble dust, plaster, or stucco, used then to cover the floor of the Basilica of Santa Trofimena. The representations on these carpets attract not only the attention of the most curious tourists, but also that of the inhabitants of the area themselves, who every year go to the church to admire the surprising works of the skilled artists chosen for the occasion.
Finally, we have also to mention Easter in Salerno, where the touching Via Crucis starts in the streets of the historic center and takes place with the participants wearing characteristic period costumes.
Typical Easter food of the Amalfi Coast
As we all know, Easter on the Amalfi Coast is not limited to religious processions, but also includes exquisite banquets with traditional dishes. On Easter, at the table, there is certainly no shortage of delicacies: the "fellata", an appetizer of hard-boiled eggs, sausages, cheeses, olives, tortano (a savory pie typical of Neapolitan cuisine), pasta al forno (baked in the oven) or minestra maritata (a complete dish with seasonal vegetables and different types of meat), followed by lamb dishes. Not to mention the desserts: the casatiello (a sort of low sponge cake covered with icing and sugared almonds, with a little lamb made of sugar in the center), the unmissable pastiera, and the delicious homemade chocolate eggs, finishing with a glass of limoncello as digestive.
After the days of Lent, there is no better way to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.
- An ancient tradition, now almost forgotten, is linked to the symbol of the palm tree: the weaving one. In Conca dei Marini, in the weeks before Easter, it was customary for ladies to prepare particular creations, made of intertwined palm strands, which were then blessed on Palm Sunday.
- In ancient times the different vocal tones of the Battenti of Minori, "tono e vasce" and "tono 'e coppe", were used to distinguish the two local Arch-confraternities: that of the SS. Rosario and that of the SS. Sacrament.
- The “Canto dei Battenti” of Minori is cataloged as an Intangible Demo-ethno-anthropological Good at the Ministero dei Beni e le Attività culturali.
- In Salerno, close to this holiday, the special Easter Market comes to life. It is in honor of the Festa del Crocifisso ritrovato (Feast of the Rediscovered Crucifix), an ancient traditional festival that brings visitors from all over the world.
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