This year’s Festa del Mare in Levanto is upon us. Though there have been a few related happenings in the preceding days, the real action gets started tomorrow, Tuesday July 24, and has it’s big finish on Wednesday July 25.
Those of you who have seen video of Italian Sea Festivals have probably got an idea of the pageantry: small wooden fishing boats in narrow natural harbors, statues of the Virgin Mary and other saints paraded through the streets and out into the Mediterranean. Flowers, garlands, brass and wind bands, food, wine, priests, brotherhoods, dancing, singing, women in low-cut summer dresses, furtive lovers, the lot of it.
The Festa del Mare in Levanto certainly has all of the necessary elements for a genuine Italian sea festival, though not necessarily all of the above. There will be flag bearers and flag throwers, Medieval instruments played by more contemporary musicians, parades through the city center, special Masses, people in costume as warriors, princes, and princesses (our own inimitable boat captain will be one of the warriors, his mane flowing). The final event on Wednesday night (leaving from Piazza della Loggia at 9 p.m.) is a solemn procession with Holy Reliques, an offering made to the Sea, and the placing of thousands of floating candles in the water. All of which is followed by fireworks.
It’s the real deal. So if you’re in the area, staying here or in the Cinque Terre these days, check it out. Some experiences are not worth missing.