Tuesday, August 5

Festival in Praiano- San Domenico

From the 1st to the 4th of August Praiano, the village next to Positano celebrates the Luminaria di San Domenico, a festival where the inhabitants of the town decorate the roads, terraces, balconies and gardens with candles and burning wax. Originating in the 15th Century when Domenican monks came to live in the Monastry of Santa Maria a Castro, on the mountainside high above, the festival is a spectacular event not to be missed.

So of course I missed the evening where they decorate the church square with hundreds of candles, creating a beautiful glowing pattern that makes for some spectacular photos..
So we went the next night to see what was happening. The road into town was lit up by burning candles placed on every availabe flat and the church had been transformed into a multi-coloured dream. I wonder what the monks would have thought about that!

At 11pm the fire dance started. I left my friends in the crowds and snuck into a restaurant overlooking the piazza, squeezing myself behind a plant pot in a corner behind a table, to watch the show and take photos. A circle of flames was lit and the dancers came out swinging flames around in the air.

They weren't actually devil worshipping here, it just looks like it:

After much flame swinging, flame throwing and dancing they added some sparkly stuff to the flames for the finale, and I discovered the fireworks setting on my camera, probably causing nearby people to wonder what on earth the strange girl straddling a potted palm in the corner of the restaurant was grinning to herself about:

At the end of the evening a statue, I presume it was San Domenico himself, (I haven't done my homework, sorry) was taken out of the church and carried around with much bell ringing, fireworks and prayers.
I extracted myself from the potted palm and escaped to find my friends, ready to enjoy the next part of the evening in the local bar...


  1. Nell said...
    I love the photo's sometimes straddling palm tree's or climbing onto walls etc. are the only way you'll get those amazing shots. Great stuff. I had no idea camera's have firework settings. Italy has so many interesting saints festivals that seem to breathe life into each village in a unique way.I know you had a terrific evening that night.

  2. Dominicans aren't monks, they're friars.

  3. Hi there, stumbled upon your blog while googling for "babysitting in Italy". I am a Malaysian, soon to be moving to Modena, Italy to join my husband who is working there. I was googling to see whether I could find any babysitting jobs, as I wont be having a full time job. I got really excited reading that you have been to KL (thats where Im from), and loved it too :) Am actually very overwhelmed about having to leave my family and move halfway across the globe. I will be taking Italian lessons first, and what comes next I dont know! Hope you have a tip or two for me ;) I gotta go hit the sack now, Ive been sitting here reading your blog for the past hour. Needless to say, I enjoy it :)

  4. Wow , fascinating photos!!

    http://www.amalficoast.com/evento/paese/praiano-9/praiano-sa-luminaria-di-san-domenico-539.aspx..it tells you here what the origin is.

  5. Brilliant!, love the look of the church too

  6. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and story. Why am I never in Italy when these things happen?

  7. I am so sorry my husband I have not made it to Positano this summer... it is a joy to continue reading your blog and seeing your photos. These are great!

    We usually stay at Onde Verde in August for a few days before stay in Positano. The hotle takes us by boat to Positano for fireworks on or about August 13th(another religious festival). Perhaps you will be there this year on a boat to watch and take some photos for all of us that can't be there!

  8. ooops...a typo! I can spell "hotel"...(:

  9. P.S. It's Feragosto that I was speaking about. Get your camera ready for the boat ride!

  10. the flame swinging is called 'fire pois', btw, it's done with kerosene because it doesn't burn too hot. I've done it a few times myself, lots of fun.

  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poi_(juggling)


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