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Easter in Sorrento: A Moving Tradition Dating Back Hundreds of Years

Road Scholar expert Barbara Nucci’s love for and knowledge of Italy comes from countless visits and time spent living in the country. Below, Barbara shares her experience in a procession in Sorrento, one of many that take place across Italy as an Easter tradition.

Barbara Nucci

Every year at Eastertime, Sorrento offers the visitor a truly exceptional experience. Two ancient processions, which date back to the Middle Ages, somberly march through the darkened streets of the town. The White Procession takes place in the very early hours of the Friday before Easter, and the Black Procession takes place on the same day in the evening.

In the first procession, statues of the Mother of Jesus are carried by the various confraternities, whose members are all robed in white. The Mother of Jesus is in search of her son, and she goes in vain from church to church. In the second procession, hundreds of mourners in black lament the death of Christ, carrying representations of the crucifixion and rhythmically intoning archaic verses which stir deep emotions in every participant.

You not only witness but become part of this age-old tradition as, together with the local residents, you are surrounded by haunting chants, hooded robes, lighted torches, a desperate mother and the symbols of Christ’s passion. It is an experience that will remain with you forever.