Myths and legends along the Amalfi Coast are connected for centuries like the waves skimming incessantly along the cliffs, as well as the beaches and ports of this stretch of land called “land of the sirens“.
The most sensitive and enthusiast traveler catches a hint of this legend walking along the coastline or swimming in the sea.
There are places where the history belongs only to the locals, but vistors are attracted by the raw energy just looking at a panorama or observing the historical heritage or just sipping a glass of fresh lemon juice – some of the things that happened here.
Well, that’s the Amalfi Coast that charms the visitors with a magnetic energy released by the ground and by the scents of the air, the waves of the sea and the green of the mountains. We are locals and we well know our past we listening closey to these legends and feel them deep within our soul.
On the Amalfi Coast, myths and legends link to our daily life between fantasy and reality.
YOU NEED SOAKING IN SOME OF THEM
AND YOU WILL FIND THE ANSWERS!
The miracle of Saint Andrew
This legend took place during the most prosper period of Amalfi, when the remains of Saint Andrew had already been moved from Patras in Greece to the Italian coastal town.
In a dark night of the Middle Ages, the Saracen pirate Ariadeno Barbarossa launched a massive attack on the city of Amalfi, plundering and destroying. The sentinels gave the alarm from the watching towers while the citizens ran away in panic. But some of the citizens who were devoted to St Andrew went to his tomb and prayed for a miracle.
When the pirates arrived onshore all seemed lost but then a strong wind rose and a terrible storm dragged them off to sea. Thunderstorm blew the ships over destroying and sinking the enemy army and also Ariadeno Barbarossa lost his life.
The city was saved and the citizens thanked the Lord especially the Holy Protector because he saved them and the city of Amalfi.
Every year on the 27th of June, Amalfi pays homage to St Andrew with a very emotional procession and a fireworks show which lights up the night.
Maria Giovanna of Aragon
Whilst many different versions exist, one of the most famous legends of Amalfi was the life of Queen Maria Joan of Aragon, the sister of Prince Philip descendant of King Ferdinand I.
Amalfi as the first Italian Maritime Republic, entertained close trade relationship with the Far East. The goods were bought or bartered and then transferred into the watching towers scattered along the Amalfi coastline from Vietri sul Mare to Sorrento.
In 1490 Giovanna d’Aragona married Alfonso Piccolomini, the heir to the Duke of Amalfi, but he passed away when the beautiful Giovanna was only twenty years old. A handsome, cultured and good looking butler Antonio Bologna arrived at the service of the Duchess and they fell in love and had three children. Their marriage had been kept secret to avoid the anger of the two powerful brothers of the Duchess: Cardinal Lodovico and the Marquis Carlo.
The social status of the butler made this union unacceptable and when the two brothers discovered the love affair Antonio had to escape, he was hidden away but then he was killed in Milan.
Giovanna was taken prisoner and locked up with her faithful maid and children in the tower above Amalfi where they were massacred a few days later. In according with local tradition that place was the Ziro tower and the ghost of the Queen wandered the hills seeking her freedom.
The myth of Janare
Witches were not considered bad and indeed the local tradition had always been a sort of empathy with all women, especially those who had suffered loss. Conca dei Marini has always been a fishermans village and often the men were away from home for months. So the frustrated housewives become Janara.
Dressed only with long nightgowns on the top of the trees, the witches waited for the fishing boats and they tried to attract the crew in every way (similar to the sirens of Omero) by songs, sweet words or showing their nudity. When the fishermen fell into the trap and had sex then the witches would take revenge for their loneliness and lack of their husbands by killing them. In the windy winter when the waves hit the rocks the popular legend say the noise is the groaning of witches.
The manna or oil of the saints
In the crypt of the Amalfi Cathedral dedicated to St. Andrew in the urn where the relics of his skull are kept, the miracle of manna is renewed several times a year, a gelatinous liquid envelops and often fills the glass connected to the relics. The Bishop or the priest on the day before the saint’s feast shows the glass to believers gathered in prayer. Sometimes it happens that the glass is empty and the whisper of sorrow pervades the crypt because it is considered a dark prediction, it means difficulty quite the opposite when the instead glass overflows with liquid the happiness goes over the walls of the church because it means abundance, wealth and well-being. The manna is there, proclaims the bishop, but no one listens to him anymore and in the notes of the Te Deum it is a celebration!
The phenomenon of manna occurred in Patras on the saint’s tomb and in Constantinople and when the remains were moved and in other places. For the Church it is evident that they are not phenomena limited to the religious reality of Amalfi, but are instead linked to the relics of St. Andrew because the phenomenon takes place wherever the relics are kept. In Rome, in the index of relics of the Vatican Basilica, in the 18th reliquary, in one of the 15 crystal glass there is the indication Mannae S. Andreae ap.
The Manna is collected on the main liturgical celebrations: June 26 and November 29, the eve of the feast of the Saint; On 7 December, the eve of the Immaculate Conception, on 28 January the anniversary of the discovery of the relic of the skull.
When the manna is found, every Amalfi citizen goes to the sacristy the day after and collects a sachet with the image of the Saint inside there is a piece of cotton wool with a drop of the holy oil on it and the Amalfi people keeps it in a drawer so that St. Andrea protects the house and those who live there. And thus the miracle of manna is repeated every day through the faith of its inhabitants.
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