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Religious Tourism on the Amalfi Coast: the churches of San Michele, San Giacomo and Sant'Elia a Furore


By Joseph Liuccio

Loaded with strong and intense emotions are the memories that bind me to Furore. I recall a trance of them below. It had begun in the morning my pilgrimage of love to discover the fjord reborn in the fine conservation restoration. And I had been enchanted by the dawn whitening overhanging gorge, by the breeze ruffling the green water's fur almost caressing stairs of a construct that is true in the painting of rocks. They danced to me in the flickering mirror of emotion images of seasons young and with agave sucking life from the crags and threatening piercings to the prickly pear stumps exposed to precipitous barricades to chasm of sea. Poised were domes of sky to craggy terraces drunk with sunshine, gilding generous arbors of vines.

And it was a miracle to exist that fjord, the love child of mountain and sea. And words, though sincere, seemed inadequate to celebrate an event that had been sighed for decades. Now the fishermen's houses were there, in muted colors, scaling the rocks and blending with them. And pulsing with life was that mini auditorium for prestigious conferences and events of extraordinary significance. And the village offered itself, a place of magic and mystery, to the whimsical enjoyment of poets and painters invaded by the "furore" of inspiration. And in the gentle suction of the wave, which washed away at the root tiny stairs and cracks of rock, materialized voice and figure of Anna Magnani, sanguine and passionate, possessive and furious in the scenes of jealousy with Rossellini, master and lover. "The ways of cinema," a happy intuition of the talented Michele Savino at the input of the volcanic Raffaele Ferraioli, were populated with frames of art and human affairs in the "museum of memory" crush with stars of international level who made the Amalfi Coast the stage of transgressive loves and sensational betrayals.

There is the ancient art of the collected churches, open to the winds and the sea, with the scent of the countryside wafting in the three naves of St. Michael the Archangel, as of St. James and in the unique and beautiful one of St. Elias with that valuable triptych by Angelo Antonelli dated 1479 and representing the Virgin with St. Elias and St. Bartholomew on either side. There is art and pomp in a few aristocratic palaces, evidence of the arrogance of some isolated squire always afloat in the alternation of political events. There is art in the country houses with their characteristic, sometimes extradosed roofs, blinding in the bright whiteness of quicklime contrasting with the green mottled with gold of the lemon groves and the arabesque purple of the generous vineyards in the right season. There is art in the rubble bordering terraces and inflorescing with yellow or mottled green gourds in the shape of balls that threaten to roll down the hill in the months of late spring. There is art in the painted walls and in the streets and squares protecting sculptures, acts of love by artists enamored of a country that is not there, of a relatively vast territory that has no populated districts, of a community that rests its feet in the water and lends its eyes to the sky and whose life is an act of generous loyalty to the countryside, which laughs at vines and lemons in the iodized air of the sea and sings epic of labor to the breeze that rolls in the fjord's gorge in a mélange of understanding with the undertow of the wave. And voices of call chase each other over the hills and farms from the windows of the houses, eyes open to the domain of countryside and sea.

It is the ideal town for a Sunday where spring is already breathing to practice the precept of the festive Mass in one of the beautiful churches, which are a foretaste of paradise. For lunch with family and friends my favorite restaurant is "Da Bacco," a terrace wide open to the infinity of the sea of myths and Great History with in the distance, among others, Licosa and Palinuro and on the right the mermaids beached at "Li Galli" in Positano. Intoxications of smells and tastes with the forgetful complicity of a "Fior d'uva" from Marisa Cuomo! And after lunch, taking into account that on Sunday we are already on the eve of Valentine's Day, a slow walk to Punta Sant'Elia is recommended to everyone. There it is easy to feel intense emotions by walking the "Via dell'Amore" at slow paces, especially if the breeze lightly bleaches the silver of the olive trees and fills the air with the scents of Mediterranean scrub. On the dry-stone walls the voices of poets materialize, eternalized in arabesques of polychrome tombstones all the way to the abyss that precipitates over the valley of "La Praia" to grasp sea in the glory of light. Oh, the poetry of one of the most beautiful villages in Italy!

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