processione in mare – part of the festival of Sant’ Erasmo

One of the events I wrote about while in Santa Margherita Ligure this past June was the Festival of Sant’ Erasmo. Sant’ Erasmo is the patron saint, the protector of the fishermen. I attended three of the events.

The first event was a procession at sea (processione in mare). Saturday morning, June 28th, I walked down to the boat area across from the church where I believed the procession would be taking place.

A few minutes after I arrived, I noticed a very handsome priest, all dressed up talking to a few people in the small crowd. Next came a small procession of people, also dressed up, along with four men carrying the statue of Sant’ Erasmo. The statue was placed on a big fishing boat. This was quite an interesting ordeal. Once the statue was safely aboard, the people involved with the ceremony boarded the boat.

As I was taking photos, one of the men (who I believe had had something to do with the event) told me that if I was interested, I could go on a boat at the imbacadero. I understood everything he said to me except I was not sure where the imbacadero was. I walked down the waterfront in the direction he pointed but did not see any boats that looked like they were boarding passengers. I was just about to walk back, when I noticed a few ladies who were also watching the statue being placed on the boat walking towards the main boat dock where the boats left for Portofino and Rapallo. How obvious! The imbacadero meant the dock where you could catch the boat.

I followed the woman to the boat. There was a huge crowd waiting for the next boat to Portofino. The women weaved through the crowd and said something about the procession and were given free tickets to board a boat ready to depart. I followed the women and was also given a ticket to board the boat.

Our boat followed a bunch of other boats out to sea, motoring almost to Portofino. The breeze on the boat felt wonderful as it was a very hot day. As we motored out, a sweet older woman standing next to me started pointing out some of the sights; where she was staying, what beach she went to, etc. At one point I said “wow”. She replied, “Oh, you are not Italian”. I smiled. After we established where I was from, how I learned my little Italian, etc. she went right back to describing the various houses and villas she knew about. She also told me more about the procession.

We stopped at a spot near a big building on shore where monks lived. The priest said a short mass using a microphone so everyone could hear. All the boats blew their horns when the mass was finished and a wreath was thrown into the water. For some reason, I thought the statue would be going in the water, but it never did. I think I thought this because I remembered seeing a movie once that took place in Italy where a statue was put in the water. I think it might have been The Talented Mr. Ripley.

I felt very honored to be a part of this event. My guess is the family on board the boat lost someone at sea.

Everyone on my boat was very kind to me. I think I was the only American tourist on the boat. On our way back, we stopped closer to Santa Margherita Ligure. A few people on the boat that carried the statue and the handsome priest started waving to a few people on my boat.

The Picasa slideshow of photos I took during the procession at sea no longer works, so I updated this with a square tiles display.

Here’s a so-so short video. Clicking on the arrow on the bottom right corner and then clicking on HQ after the video starts will display the video in high quality. Warning – turn your volume down a little bit. Also this video is a little shaky. It may make you motion sick.

Here is the festival notice with all of events listed:

s erasmo sign.JPG

7 thoughts on “processione in mare – part of the festival of Sant’ Erasmo

  1. Fantastic slide show and video clip of the Festival. I’d also thought that the statue would be submerged in the water as I’ve also read it being done on other feasts. I seem to recall reading about a similar feast in Portofino or somewhere near the Ligurian Coast.
    I want so much to return to SML but in the early summer, to enjoy it to the fullest but I’m afraid it might be a bit crowded.


  2. I remember when you posted previously about taking part in this procession — what a cool experience!
    Your photos/slide show is great and I enjoyed the video (although I think I would have become seasick had I been there)
    I firmly believe that one big plus of traveling solo is that people often assume you’re local (because, of course, all tourists travel in packs!) And if you’re local, you must belong to whatever is going on. Which is great!


  3. oh how amazing to experience something like that. I thought the video was cool, really gave a sense of being on a boat in a crowded harbour! I haven’t been to this area, but really hope to on a future visit. Although won’t be returning to Italy this year, since we’re going to Newfoundland in July. I was about to say it is much closer to home, but then realized it will be about 5 hrs of driving, a 6 hr ferry ride, then another 5 hrs of driving so the travel time is not so different from flying to Italy!


  4. Wow, didn’t realize that I haven’t commented here yet. Thanks for all of your comments.
    Annie, it was very cool getting to experience this event.
    Maria, I am glad I was not the only one thinking the statue was going in for a dip. I was there mid June. The beaches were crowded but I did not find the town very crowded, at least not like Rome, Venice, Florence, etc.
    Leslie, I love this part of Liguria also.
    sandra, do you get sea sick? I hope the video did not bring back bad memories. I moved the camera much to fast. Meeting more people is definitely a perk to traveling solo. I often pass as Italian until I open my mouth and speak.
    Anne, looking forward to learning more about Newfoundland. Did not realize it was that far away! Liguria is a pretty special area if you like the ocean. I have spent time there during many of my visits to Italy.
    Chiocciola, me too! I was so excited when I found out that I would be able to go out on a boat.


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