One of my favorite things about living in Sorrento is that I am able to participate in local events and activities during my time here.

This past month I had the opportunity to attend two festivals, one local to Sorrento and one in Venezia, both of which are tied to the values of faith and tradition that permeate everyday life.

Attending both of them was such an amazing and unique experience!

Feast of Sant’Antonino Abate

Every year on February 14th when many people are celebrating San Valentino, Sorrento honors its patron saint, Sant’Antonino.

I woke up early that Tuesday to make my way to the Basilica Sant’Antonino for the procession at 9:00.

While waiting outside of the basilica for the statue to be carried out, people participating in the procession walked toward the church dressed in robes and carrying processional crosses and large flags.

Church bells were ringing throughout the town and when it was time for the statue to be carried out of the church, everybody gathered at the basilica’s entrance.

Several people carried the large silver statue out of the basilica and started walking toward Via San Cesario.

As we were walking, many people from the balconies above were throwing confetti and slips of paper with statements of well wishes and celebrations of Sant’Antonino.

The statue was brought to the Cattedrale di Sorrento for a blessing before continuing to Piazza Tasso where it passed the statue of Sant’Antonino that is situated in the piazza year-round.

Once the procession had ended and the statue was returned to Basilica Sant’Antonino, I went down to the crypt to honor the saint.

I find it so amazing that all of Sorrento comes together to celebrate and commemorate Sant’Antonino each year.

In the United States, only a few saints are largely celebrated such as San Patrizio, San Valentino, and San Gennaro.

I love how every church, not only in Sorrento, but across Italy, celebrates its patron saint in such grand ways that show just how important the day is.

The day left my heart feeling so full and happy, and so grateful to have been a part of it.

processione piazza tasso sorrento sant'antonino 2023 Gianna Smurro
The silver statue of Sant'Antonino "meets" the one placed in Piazza Tasso, in Sorrento

Carnevale in Venezia

The weekend following Sant’Antonino day, I visited Venezia during the last weekend of Carnevale.

The celebration takes place over the weeks preceding Ash Wednesday and Lent.

After arriving in Venezia late in the afternoon on Friday, I went to Piazza San Marco, and though it was very foggy and cloudy, the piazza was filled with people dressed up for the celebrations.

Carnevale in Venezia became popular in the 1700s when aristocrats would attend the festival dressed in elaborate masks and costumes.

Today, people still dress up for the occasion either in full costumes or decorated masks.

Throughout the weekend I saw many street performances and contests for the best costume and masks.

I also tried some Frittelle di Carnevale andChiacchiere“, both of which were absolutely delicious!

You could just see and feel how excited everyone was to be in Venezia for this special occasion.

All of this was in anticipation of the season of Lent, and I am very excited to be able to experience many other celebrations and festivals in the coming weeks leading up to Easter.