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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Sorrento: the Italian community built on 2,000 years of sea lore

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Sorrento, Italy, is a beautiful city to visit on the Bay of Naples. It has a 2,000-year connection with the sea that is still remembered annually as a statue of Virgin Mary is carried through the city’s streets and placed on a boat. The solemn ceremony is designed to protect sailors from a watery death from Sirens who are mythical sea creatures. Almost every family in this seaside village has lost at least one ancestor to a boat accident or knows someone who has never returned from a voyage. In addition to this August ceremony, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Sorrento, which is easily reachable from Naples, Italy.

Good Friday processions

The Good Friday processions in this community and others along the Sorrentine Peninsula have been occurring since the 1300s. On Thursday and Friday before Easter, members of brotherhoods who are mostly Catholic don hoods and walk through the streets carrying symbols designed to remind themselves and those watching of Christ’s death on the cross. Participants also carry a statue of the Virgin Mary along with a crucifix. Many processions also include chanting.

This community that dates back to at least 485 BC also uniquely celebrates the Feast of Assumption. Located just off the coast is an underwater statue of the Madonna. During the feast, participants lay flowers at her feet asking for protection for divers and sailors during the coming year. On this day, it is customary to eat a feast and end the day by watching fireworks over the sea.

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The beautiful art of marquetry is still practiced by many people who live in Sorrento, just like it has been since the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies that lasted from 1816 to 1860. While you can find wonderful examples of this inlaid wood in many places around town, you can also learn basic techniques yourself by taking one of the classes at Museobottega della Tarsia sorrentina. Even if you do not want to or have the time to take a class, visit this museum that is filled with beautiful examples with many dating back over 100 years.

There are also numerous places around Sorrento where you can reconnect with nature. During the reign of Emperor Frederick II, he hired a man from Sorrento to be the expert for his book on falconry. You can still see many raptors dive for food in the water’s off this coastal community. Sorrento’s location means that it is on the flight path for the trans-Saharan migrations with many birds visiting this community from April to July.

There are many reasons that visitors go to Sorrento, Italy. This community built on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples has a close tie to royalty and to the sea, which is celebrated throughout the year.

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