In Sorrento on the 26th of July, there is the Festival of Saints Anne and Joachim with processions and fireworks on the sea. Every year, this event is highly awaited by the faithful and numerous visitors looking to experience one the Sorrentine Peninsula’s most important traditions up close, with its mix of the sacred and the profane, religion and local folklore.
Sorrento is a city known for its ancient traditions, but also ancient legends, such as that of the Sirens. In fact, it is often associated with the myth of these creatures and their song, as the story goes, that would bewitch sailors along the coastline. And right there, just off the ancient jetty of the village of Marina Grande, the sea is a reference for many stories, such as the festival dedicated to Saints Anne and Joachim which is celebrated in the ancient village, starting in mid-July, the day after the Festa del Carmine, and, generally, continues until the 1st of August with events organised by the Parish of Saint Anne, the Parrocchia di Sant’Anna, one of the city’s most important churches.
Siren with two tales, Cathedral of Sorrento | Photo: © Fiore Silvestro Barbato, via Flickr
The church is right at sea-level in the charming village comprised of colourful houses and small beaches dotted by tiny resorts and restaurants. It was founded by some fishermen in the XVII Century. Over time, the building, with its single nave and barrel-vaulted ceiling, has undergone several restorations. Inside, besides the statue of Saint Anne on the altar, there are several wooden sculptures like the Crucifix and the statue of Saint John the Baptist.
On a beach in Marina Grande, with Vesuvius on the horizon | Photo: S J Pinkney, via Flickr
This year, festivities begin on Tuesday the 17th of July with the Novena every evening and the celebration of the Eucharist at 8 pm. From the 26th of July, the Festival begins in full, dedicated to the two Saints, and from 5 am until 12 pm, hourly, various forms of the Holy Mass are observed. At 6 pm, there is the blessing of the sailors who will carry the statue of Saint Anne and on Saturday the 28th of July at 8 pm, the celebration of the Eucharist is presided over by Archbishop Francesco Alfano. The following day at 8 pm on Sunday the 29th of July, from the Church in Marina Grande, the processions departs with the sailors carrying the statue of the Saint towards the centre of Sorrento, eventually returning to the church. The following Monday, there is a final celebration of the Eucharist to give thanks at 8 pm.
Marina Grande, niche dedicated to Saint Anne | PHoto: © Fiore Silvestro Barbato, via Flickr
Sant’Anna is a festival full of music, Neapolitan songs and related events open to everybody, games such as the soap-pole on the jetty, the treasure hunt, the tug-of-war and potato-sack races - these last events are generally held on the beach. On Sunday the 29th of July, in fact, there is an unforgettable musical performance and the event Passioni Napoletane (Neapolitan Passions) with actor Marco Palmieri. On Monday the 30th of July, the entire city heeds the call to participate in the traditional games which start at 3 pm and don’t end until late at night.
The days of the Festival are an incredible opportunity to discover the culinary and recreational traditions of the Sorrentine coastline, with games and luscious banquet tables throughout the village, offering typical dishes and products such as walnuts, limoncello and fried seafood. Each restaurant has a special menu for the days of the Festival - don’t miss out on spaghetti with clams and the delizia al limone, a special local lemon-based desert. Try the delizia at the Trattoria Emilia, in business since 1947.
A glimpse of Marina Grande with the Trattoria Emilia in the foreground at the bottom left | Photo: Davidhermanns, via Wikimedia Creative Commons
Amidst the colours of the lights of the city centre, the village and the decorated boats with their lights and lanterns, which, on the sea, seem to sparkle like fireflies, one need only wait until around 23.30 pm on the 30th of July for the highlight of the Festival - a fireworks display that, because of the intense reflections on the water, seems to be rising straight up out of the sea and straight up to the heavens.
Author: Fabio Pariante - © 2018 ARTE.it for Nozio Business