Special Events in Sorrento & Amalfi Coast

Special Events in Sorrento & Amalfi Coast

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Feast of San Gennaro

19 September (every year)

Naples

Patron saint and protector of Naples, San Gennaro is celebrated by hundreds of Napoletani. Expect singing, crying and praying as his statue majestically moves through the streets of town. The Patron saint and protector of Naples, San Gennaro is celebrated by hundreds of Napoletani. Expect singing, crying and praying as his statue majestically moves through the streets of town. The Feast of San Gennaro ends with the miracle of the liquefaction.

Since the forces of divine providence don't necessarily follow the Gregorian calendar, the miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro might not fall precisely on the day of the procession, though it seems that quite often it does.

The blood of the saint is contained in a vessel kept in the Duomo of Naples, and through the intervention of the saint the blood turns liquid again, to attest to the faithful that he still watches over the city.

Ravello Festival

26 June - 27 September (every year)

Ravello

Successor to the Wagner Festival, held in honour of the German composer who visited the area in 1880, the Ravello Festival organises classical music performances in the town's churches, gardens and piazzas. Exhibitions, ballet and cinema enrich the programme.

Full programme details, including individual costs, venues and opening hours, can be found on the festival website from May.

Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico

19 - 22 November (every year)

Centro Espositivo Ariston, Paestum

Paestum's Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico promotes archaeological sites and destinations at the Centro Espositivo Ariston. Presentations, meetings and interactive activities appeal to travellers, archaeologists and business tourism professionals as well as all the Indiana Jones fans out there.

The programme includes sections such as ArcheoFilm, with documentaries taking visitors to the Seven Wonders of the World, ArcheoToons, presenting archaeology through animation, and ArcheoVirtual, a virtual lab run by the Virtual Heritage Network Association. Professionals should not miss the interactive ArcheoMeeting, an area dedicated to experimental archaeology. 

Christmas in Naples

December - January (every year)

Naples

Christmas in Naples entails a month-long celebration, offering a huge variety of events and traditions, rich in Neapolitan flavour. In 2008, 17th and 18th-century music is at the heart of the festivities.

Live music shows and gospel singing take place through the duration of Christmas in Naples at various venues, including some of the best-preserved historic churches. Theatres stage art and comedy performances, while museums and art galleries offer a selection of exhibitions on archaeological findings, sculptures and sacred objects . 

Then, of course, there is the traditional Christmas Concert on 25 December at Naples' Duomo, which this year features music by Vivaldi, Mozart and Mercadante.

Sapori & Saperi

April (every year)

Santuario della Beata Vergine, Pompeii

Sapori & Saperi, meaning "taste and knowledge", is Naples' newest food event, celebrating the world-famous recipes of the Campania region at the Santuario delle Beata Vergine in Pompeii.

Sample wine, tomatoes, fish and, of course, the inimitable buffalo mozzarella. In true Neapolitan style, Sapori & Saperi couples food with other popular traditions, like music and dance, poetry and story-telling by folkloristic groups. Expect a loud crowd, a party atmosphere and a warm reception.

Three Gulfs Cup

May (every year)

Bay of Naples

Naples' Three Gulfs Regatta sees beautiful boats battling it out in a race from Naples to Capri.

There are three smaller regattas in Capri gulf on the days following the big event, but the main race starts at midnight in Naples on 24 May and ends in Capri the day after.

Tammorra Festival

May - June (every year)

Somma Vesuviana

A series of music performances, the Tammorra Festival in Somma Vesuviana celebrates the powerful beat of the Tammorra, a tambourine-like instrument capable of producing the range of sound of a set of percussion! Local wine and handicrafts enrich the event.

Saint Andrew's Celebration

June (every year)

Amalfi

Saint Andrew, patron saint of Amalfi, is honoured several times a year, but in June celebrations are by far the most spectacular. They entail a group of fishermen running up a steep 62-step staircase with the statue on their shoulders!

Following a solemn procession through town, which commemorates the defeat of Barbarossa's pirate fleet in 1544, fishermen take the holy statue of the saint back to the Duomo as fast as they can, believing their effort is symbolic of strength and faith.

Fish in all its forms - fresh, fried, stewed, boiled - accompanies the celebrations, which conclude in the evening with a firework show.

Festa della Madonna del Carmine

July (every year)

Naples

Few cities harbour such effervescent religious passions in their hearts as Naples does. The Madonna del Carmine is a highly cherished figure in the Neapolitan pantheon and her celebration is one of the most spectacular the city has to offer.

It all starts the night before the saint's day itself, with the Incendio del Campanile, which literally means "the burning of the church tower". Fireworks light up the sky with flames and explosions, while the design of the show makes it look as though the belltower itself, the highest point of the city, is ablaze with flames, a lone burning structure towering in the middle of a pyrotechnic celestial inferno. A spectacular and memorable sight.

On the day of the Madonna itself, a Holy Mass is celebrated every hour of the day from seven o'clock in the morning until seven o'clock at night, to make sure that the devout and the pilgrims get to partake in the blessing of the powerful saint.

Landing of the Saracens

August (every year)

Positano

The Landing of the Saracens re-enacts the battle that took place on 15 August 1558 in the town of Positano, on the Amalfi Coast. Actors in costume, music and the almost-guaranteed spectacular sunset make for an entertaining family event. 

Byzantine New Year

August - September (every year)

Amalfi

Amalfi's celebration of the Byzantine New Year brings ancient traditions back to life. Costumed parades and medieval tournaments precede the proclamation of the Duke of Amalfi on 1 September, the day once associated with the beginning of the new year. 

The Madonna of Piedigrotta

September (every year)

Chiesa della Santa Maria di Piedigrotta, Naples

The elusive Madonna of Piedigrotta only comes out of her church and parades through town once every 50 years. However, as one of Naples' most cherished religious figures, she is celebrated annually with special masses, artistic performance, songs and music.

The last time that the Madonna was out was in 1967, an unusual occasion that broke the normal cycle of her appearances and marked the restoration of the statue. Otherwise, she's only taken out of the church once every 50 years without much ado, but the real event is her symbolic return.

The return procession takes the form of a boat parade along the seafront to nearby Mergellina, from where she carries out the rest of her voyage back to the Church by land. The parade takes place in a joyous atmosphere, as the Neapolitans celebrate the day of their protectress with their usual religious flair. 

Pompeii

Obliterated, submerged by a thick layer of volcanic ash in 79AD, Pompeii is the city that froze in time. Perfectly preserved buildings, artwork and solidified bodies reveal the most trivial and tragic moments of the unexpected Vesuvian eruption.

AdvertisementPompeii has fascinated generation after generation of archaeologists, scholars and amateurs from all over the world. Twisted bodies, caught in the moment of seeking shelter from the catastrophe and other remains are the first impressive signs of what the volcano is capable of. But scientific studies have given evidence that Vesuvius is actually a fairly uncommon type of volcano - a double one with the smaller active volcano lodged within the crater of another much older one, which still attracts great attention from seismologists.

Archaeological Museum of Naples

Daily; not Tuesday 

Archaeological Museum of Naples, Naples

Naples's rich archaeological past, including findings from the mythical city of Pompeii, can be seen under one roof at the National Museum of Archaeology. Permanent collections of gems, sculptures, architecture and mosaics, mostly Graeco-Roman, are on display.

AdvertisementThe museum is one of the world's largest and most important repositories of material culture from the classical world. The collections are extensive and include two entire galleries of Greek and Roman sculptures, with marble senators, kings and emperors who look down their noble noses from pedestals. Special focus is obviously directed at the nearby buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, with regular updates and exhibits on the archaeological work taking place on the sites. 

The Pompeii Mosaic rooms, which contain all the most amazing mosaics discovered at the lost city, are unmissable. These include the original mosaic of the barking dog with the words Cave Canem beneath it. "Beware of the Dog" signs can be found all over the world and the existence of one in Pompeii seems to confirm how much we still have in common with our forefathers. There are also some incredible portraits of wealthy householders from Pompeii, as well as the famous mosaic of Alexander the Great fighting Darius at the Battle of Issus.

Even more extraordinary is the Secret Cabinet, featuring erotic art found during excavation. Visitors pass through a bronze gate to discover a series of images revealing homosexual and heterosexual encounters. Pompeiian men and women frolic freely across the walls of the Secret Cabinet and there are also a number of phallic lamp-lights, sculptures of well-endowed satyrs and various other "naughty" artefacts.

Palazzo Reale

Daily; not Wednesday 

Palazzo Reale, Naples

Naples' Palazzo Reale is the most prominent example of Baroque architecture in the city, designed by Domenico Fontana in the 17th century. The eight statues on the facade are of Neapolitan kings.

AdvertisementThe palace's first-floor rooms are decorated with fine Baroque furniture, trompe l'oeil ceilings, great tapestries and lots of 17th- and 18th-century paintings. The chapel is well worth a visit, with its finely worked altarpiece, as is the terrace, which gives great views of the port and the Castel Nuovo.

Located in the heart of the city, the square on which the palace stands is one of Naples' most architecturally interesting, with a long colonnade and a church, San Francesco di Paolo.

Secret Cabinet

Daily; not Tuesday

Archaeological Museum of Naples, Naples

Within the Archaeological Museum of Naples is the Secret Cabinet, housing a collection of erotic art that was recovered during excavation works in Pompeii. Once deemed too explicit for public display, these long-hidden items are now accessible to all.

AdvertisementThere are some spectacular items to see - satyrs and goats, pygmies and nymphs, half-human beasts and bestial humans. These are divided according to timelines and their various functional categories. The Vesuvian artefacts are also sorted according to context and origins, divided into categories such as mythological paintings, sculptures and paintings used to decorate gardens, and the often rougher and more explicit objects from less affluent private houses.

Even before the opening of the museum, many of these pieces were already secured away from the eyes of the public, accessible only with a special permit. Once they moved to Naples they were on display until 1819, when King Francesco I decreed that they were to be closed off in a room which only "persons of mature age, known to be possessed of a strong morality" were permitted to enter.

After Garibaldi marched into Napoli in the 19th century the collection was opened again, only to be closed under the Fascist regime. In the years since Mussolini fell the exhibits have lingered in limbo but today they are restored to their full glory. 

Paestum Ruins

Daily

Paestum Ruins, Paestum

The majestic 3000-year-old Paestum Ruins are a set of ancient Greek Doric temples. The ruins were only brought to light by builders of a coach road in the 18th century, who bulldozed through the ancient Greek theatre!

AdvertisementThe largest of the three temples is the one dedicated to Neptune at the southern edge of the site. Built in the 5th century BC, it measures 60 metres long and 24 metres wide, with 14 fluted columns at the side and six at the end. Its stone is golden and when it catches the evening sun, the columns and entablature glow pink.

Herculaneum

Daily

Herculaneum, Ercolano

Smaller than their more famous neighbour Pompeii, the ruins of Herculaneum offer an intimate look at Roman life prior to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. Here houses retain their mosaics in situ and the well-preserved women's baths are spectacular.

AdvertisementFor 1700 years the town stayed buried, only unearthed when the back of the theatre's stage while sinking the shaft for a well in 1709. The highlight of any visit is the women's baths, boasting a waiting room, changing rooms and steam rooms, including the marble benches on which the sweating Roman ladies must have sat during their beauty treatments.

A shock is in store at the House of the Neptune Mosaic, for in what was once the atrium of the summer villa there is a glass case containing the carbonised remains of three skeletons. Two adult figures cradle between them the body of a child. 

Paestum National Archaeological Museum

Daily

Paestum National Archaeological Museum, Paestum

Paestum National Archaeological Museum explores the archaeological history of Poseidonia, aka Paestum, from the 6th century BC to the end of the Roman period. Highlights include the Tomb of the Diver, one of the few surviving examples of Greek painting.

AdvertisementThe nearby ruins of Paestum complement the visit to the museum. 

Virgil's Tomb

Daily; not Wed

Parco Virgiliano, Naples

Virgil's Tomb, at Naples' Parco Virgiliano, is where one of the greatest luminaries of Western literature is buried. Undisputed master of the metric arts and composer of the Aeneid, Virgil was also the Roman Empire's "national poet".

AdvertisementVirgil was Dante's guide through Hell and Purgatory in the Divina Commedia and the source of inspiration for countless later poets, including Ovid, Spenser and Milton. While he was the object of literary admiration and veneration already before his death, in the following centuries his name became associated with miraculous powers, his tomb the object of pilgrimages and pagan veneration. The poet himself was said to have created the cave with the fierce power of his intense gaze.

The tomb still sports a tripod burner originally dedicated to Apollo, bearing witness to the continued allure of hinted dark powers and bizarre mysteries. It is said that the Chiesa della Santa Maria di Piedigrotta was erected by the Church authorities to neutralise this pagan adoration and "Christianise" the site.

In the park you can also pay homage to poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), whose body was transported here in 1939. 

San Carlo Theatre

Daily

San Carlo Theatre, Naples

Naples' San Carlo Theatre attracts international orchestras, performers and troupes. Built in 1737, it is the oldest working theatre in Europe and, barring the reconstruction and the 1872-1874 economic crisis, it has not interrupted its seasons in almost three centuries.

AdvertisementToday the San Carlo is still bustling with activity. Besides staging frequent operas, ballets and concerts, it is also involved in several projects, including the reintroduction of operatic masterpieces from the 19th century and the ongoing attempt to restore the 18th-century opera buffa.

The theatre is open for guided tours, except when performances and rehearsals are in progress. 

Museo San Gennaro

Daily

Museo San Gennaro, Naples

Formerly known as the Museum of the Treasury of Saint Gennaro, this museum houses extraordinary ancient documents, precious objects, silver pieces, jewellery and paintings, donated to the Saint by kings, popes and other devotees.

AdvertisementThis museum has a high historical, spiritual and artistic value, displaying frescoes by Luca Giordano and paintings by Domenichino and Massimo Stanzione, among others. Next to the museum there is the Royal Chapel of the Treasury of Saint Gennaro, a unique jewel from the Baroque period.

Saint Francis Cloister

Daily

Saint Francis Cloister, Sorrento

The 14th-century Saint Francis Cloister, near port Marina Piccola in Sorrento, boasts a combination of architectural styles, delicate arches, octagonal pillars and some pagan elements. Its scented garden is the backdrop for art exhibitions and the annual Summer Music Festival. 

Sorrento Cathedral

Daily

Cathedral, Sorrento

The Romanesque Sorrento Cathedral is home to various works of art including paintings by Oronzo Malinconico and Giacomo del Po. Visitors can also see the fully restored baptistery where poet Torquato Tasso, the city's most famous citizen, was christened.

Argenti

Daily

Museo San Gennaro, Naples

Argenti is a thematic exhibition dedicated to the silverworks belonging to San Gennaro. It is held at Naples' Museo San Gennaro, enriching the museum's current collection of gifts donated to the Saint throughout the centuries.

AdvertisementBearing evidence of the history of craftsmanship dating back to the 13th century, Argenti documents the extraordinary skills of Neapolitan sculptors and silversmiths, and their ability to combine technical knowledge with creativity.

On display are sacred objects that were once used in daily liturgical ceremonies, such as chalices, baskets, holders, candelabras and plates, crafted by artists like Filippo Del Giudice, Carlo Schisano, Giovan Domenico Vinaccia and Lorenzo Vaccaio, among others.