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Pasqua a Sorrento - What Not to Expect

Thursday, 26 March 2015

I was woken by the sound of steady drumbeats, growing steadily closer. The beat was joined by the mournful swelling of a brass band, a funereal march in distinctly Italian style.



The sight from our balcony was no less stirring; a marching mass of hooded, white-robed figures, lit by flaming torches. It was deep in the night of Maundy Thursday, and on the streets of Sorrento, Italy the Procession of Our Lady of Sorrows was making its sombre way through the town.



Watching from above, the drama and scale of the procession felt awesome but distant, and as the procession slipped past I suddenly felt a pang of envy for the participants and those following behind.

On their return journey, I was ready. Leather jacket pulled over my nightclothes, I raced down to the street behind our hotel, following the sound of music to the procession.


The now scant crowd stood reverent in 5am darkness and a haze of curling incense. At street level, symbols of the Easter story passed - shields and spears, a rooster, the crown of thorns. As the procession paused, school boy choirs shifted impatiently, eyeing the crowds through slipping hoods.   

The following night, the Good Friday Procession of the Crucified Christ was said to be even more incredible; black robed mourners bearing a grieving Madonna through the streets, following the body of her son. And at a more palatable 8pm start time, far more popular too.


And incredible it was - from the stirring music to the painted face of the black-clad Holy Mother, looking as anguished as I've ever seen a statue. But with the weight of expectation (and the phone-camera wielding crowd), I couldn't recapture the electric magic of the early morning.

In a week I'll be in Spain, discovering how Andalusia does Semana Santa. Sorrento's Easter processions swept me up into a drama and atmosphere I'd not expected to feel - so as excited as my trip makes me, I'm trying my best not to over plan, over research or over anticipate what I might experience there...

April 2014, 6 days Sorrento/Amalfi/Salerno
Fujifilm X10 (and not nearly enough light...)

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