Easter offers visitors the chance to experience religious processions, events and enjoy traditional foods while traveling in Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and throughout Campania.
Falling much later this year than usual, the Easter holiday will be celebrated in southern Italy’s Campania region in a spring setting of sweetly scented blossoms and warm temperatures. Pasqua, or Easter, is one of the most important and celebrated religious holidays of the year in Italy. The events that take place during the Settimana Santa, or Holy Week, are among the most moving and passionate that you’ll find in Italy. While events and religious processions take place in nearly every town, there are a few outstanding events to experience during Easter in Campania. Of course, in addition to the regional dishes of Campania, there are traditional foods and desserts prepared for Pasqua.
The most impressive Easter processions in Campania take place in Sorrento, a resort town overlooking the Bay of Naples. During Holy Week visitors can experience the moving processions of hooded figures that take place through the streets of the city by torch light. On Giovedì Santo (Maundy Thursday) before Easter Sunday, the Procession of the Addolorata takes place in Sorrento with hundreds of men carrying a statue of the grieving Mary dressed in black and represented as Our Lady of Sorrows. This moving procession winds its way through the streets of Sorrento until dawn on Venerdì Santo.
The city is filled with an air of intense religious feeling as the processions continue on Good Friday. After dark, an elaborate procession of men dressed in black hooded robes lead the Processione del Cristo Morto, with a statue of Christ after he was taken down from the cross. Other symbols of the Passion of Christ are carried as the procession makes it way through town accompanied by the voices of men singing the traditional procession songs.
The Easter processions in Amalfi, the namesake town of Campania’s famous Amalfi Coast, are beautifully intense and moving. After mass in the Duomo of Amalfi, a torch lit procession lead by men dressed in white hooded robes begins down the grand staircase of the cathedral. A statue of Cristo Morto is carried on a platform surrounded by four mourning angels. A statue of Maria Addolorata is carried behind Christ as the procession follows the streets of Amalfi high up into the town, down again through the Piazza Duomo and along the seafront to the Church of Santa Maria Annunziata in Piazza Municipio. There the statue of Christ is removed from the platform and placed in the church to symbolize his burial, and as the procession continues back to the Duomo the statue of the Maria Addolorata is carried first, followed by the empty platform. It is a moving representation of the religious events remembered during Holy Week.
The Easter holidays in Campania are a traditional time to spend together with family and friends, especially in Campania when many Italians living and working in other parts of the country return home. The Easter dinner in Campania is a feast! While there are many variations throughout the region, there are some traditions that will be found on most tables over the holiday weekend. The meal often begins with antipasti of meats and cheeses, including soppressata and ricotta salata. The first course is traditionally a minestra maritata, a Neapolitan soup made with meat and greens such as chicory, cabbage and escarole. Other traditional primi might be fusilli pasta served with a tomato sauce enriched by sausage. The second course is often lamb or goat served along with potatoes, artichokes and other late winter or early spring vegetables.
Dessert, of course, must feature the traditional Neapolitan Pastiera, a cake made with ricotta cheese, cooked wheat grain and delicately scented with the flavor of orange blossom. It is the celebrated symbol of the Easter table in Campania, and just one of the many joys of celebrating Pasqua in Campania!