Sunday, May 19, 2013

From Skyscrapers to Lemon Groves – Easter in Campania

The start of new Amalfi memories
Winter in the USA was unusually mild this year and I kept busy with personal styling and writing about Italian Fashion. Luckily I made it back to Italy just in time for Easter.
This Easter was especially exciting because it was my first Easter in Italy. I celebrated part of the holiday vacation in Minori, a village on the Amalfi Coast. We began the festivities on Good Friday, honoring Jesus’ death.  All the lights in the town were turned off and nothing but fiery torches and glowing candles lined the streets. My cousin and I respected the Good Friday tradition and didn’t eat meat that day. 
By the end of the day we were gathered in the streets with the rest of the townspeople, watching the procession, eating and socializing. The streets were vivacious and full of people laughing and greeting each other. My cousin who is also named Valeria, decided to buy a hot dog (not very Italian of her). As she held the hotdog in her hand, mouth open, about to take a big bite, her husband sauntered over. When he saw the hotdog in her hand, his eyes grew wide and he shrieked, “What are you doing, it’s Holy Friday, and you’re not supposed to eat meat!” We had completely forgotten with all the excitement going on around us. Imagine! She had gone the entire day without eating meat and was about to break the “fast” a few hours before midnight! We looked at each other and couldn't help but laugh.

Good Friday procession in Minori Italy
As the procession of white hooded believers paraded the Virgin Mary and the body of Jesus through the streets of this seaside village, I couldn’t help but feel a pride for the tradition and culture. The band played and the prayers were said over a microphone for all of us to hear.
After the procession came Holy Saturday, a day for rest and time with family.
Finally Easter Sunday arrived and I spent the day with my boyfriend’s family in Salerno. The holiday lasted well into the evening. We ate too much, talked too much, and had a fabulous time.
I was even able to bring the tradition of the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt to Italy, where my seven year old cousin, Myriam, was thrilled to learn about the concept of candy hidden in plastic Easter eggs….and presents from a rabbit. 
The Easter festivities don’t stop at Easter Sunday, however. Monday is a national holiday as well, called “Pasquetta”. Pasquetta is usually spent in the mountains or by the sea, amongst family and friends, and is another excuse to eat, drink and laugh too much. I was in Paestum experiencing a full emersion into this Italian tradition. Paestum, a town on the Cilento Coast, over an hour south of the Amalfi Coast. Paestum is known for its farmland- especially artichokes, mozzarella, and livestock, as well as Ancient Greek Temples.

Paestum and the ruins of the Temple of Athena

A Pasquetta Rainbow in Paestum
Easter seemed to be just the thing that was needed to bring life back to the Amalfi Coast after a long winter.  With tourist season beginning, the locals are busy preparing the coast for a long and beautiful summer… full of exciting things to write about.

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