Saturday, August 16

Ferragosto fireworks cancelled

Ferragosto. The busiest night of the year in Positano. Crowds come from miles around to see the incredible fireworks display that is set off from a floating raft in the sea. The bay is lit up with hundreds of boats and the whole coast road is jammed with cars and bikes as people park to find a good viewpoint.

But yesterday afternoon the weather suddenly changed. Clouds arrived and settled down close to the mountains, bringing stifling heat and humidity with them for the afternoon and then, suddenly, towards evening the winds arrived. Strong, fresh winds that whirled around the town, whipping the bougainvillea off the vines, sending umbrellas flying and causing havoc amongst the festive crowds.

Walking down to the beach in the evening we watched the wind cause mischief and mayhem. Girls staggered around clutching their skirts to their sides, vainly fighting the winds attempt to blow their dresses over their heads, while they were blinded by their hair that whipped across their eyes, sticking in their lip gloss and blowing into disarray.

Down near the sand little children screamed and jumped up and down, slapping their legs in fright as they were stung by a sandstorm brewed by the wind. People twirled and pirouetted, clutching their sand-filled eyes, trying to turn their backs to the wind, but to no avail. The wind decided to make things more exciting and rushed over to the bancarelle, the market stalls set up on the beach. With one big gust two stalls fell, collapsing in on themselves and burying their wares amongst canvas and sand. The dismayed owner stormed around his ruined stands, cursing to the skies and shaking his fist before storming off into the crowds.

As time for the fireworks grew nearer, the wind grew stronger. Strong enough, in fact to make the firework platform out at sea come loose from its holdings. For a while it drifted slowly away from the town until somebody finally noticed and help was called.

Midnight arrived, but the fireworks didn't. It was just far too windy and dangerous. Slanting almost horizontally against the strength of the wind, the crowds pushed their way home. For the first time this summer people had to sleep with the windows closed, so fierce was the gale. It raged on throughout the night and then, finally exhausted with its efforts, blew itself out in time for the morning.

The fireworks of Ferragosto have been rescheduled for Friday the 22nd August. Everybody is invited except for the wind.


  1. I slept with my windows WIDE open, to welcome a little fresh air after so much sticky humidity

  2. I would have done too, but the windows would have smashed against the wall. There is nothing to keep them still with.

  3. Oh! This might be good news for me! I might be in Positano for the 22nd and I was just complainging that I have never been there for a ferr'agosto celebration...

    Venice also had horrible storms yesterday. We ended up buying ponchos on the beach just to get home with.

  4. Oh what a great shame, its sounds quite terrifying, all those poor people and the market traders..what a time the gales chose to arrive.

  5. Thanks so much for the Feragosto update. I don't think I've ever experienced bad storms in the summer while in Positano. Yesterday we had a threat of a tornado over New York City. It is crazy everywhere!

  6. What was the wind direction?

    You made me think about the big "mareggiata" (swell) of Jan 11th 1987. Here's an article with some remarkable photos of Amalfi.
    On that day I was in Napoli in my parents house and when I opened the shades of my bedroom I saw the the most beautiful visions my 24 years old eyes had ever seen: the usually placid Golfo turned night time into a furious beast.
    I stared at it in awe all day.

    A few days later I went on a day trip to Positano. The fishermen boats were still "parked" in the smashed windows of Le tre sorelle...

    I'm sure everybody old enough there remembers that quite well. But I wonder if they ever mention it. Superstitious as the italians are, maybe they prefere not to...

    Sorry, didn't mean to steal the show here. Just thought it was interesting to share.

  7. It seems that the whole world is having crazy weather. I hope it clears up as fast as it arrived.

  8. Let's not forget about the pieces of colored tiles that you can pick up on the beach...especially after a storm.

    I don't find as many as I used to, but my friend from Naples told me about collecting them. Whenever I go to Positano, I try to find as many as I can!

  9. Niki -- You described the scene with such vivid detail -- I feel like I was there! That's crazy about the fireworks barge ripping loose from its moorings. There was clearly no choice but to put the celebration off. bummer for those who will now miss the ferragosto fireworks, but fun for folks like Nancy who now might get to come - an unexpected delight!


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