The festival of San Matteo: Culinary tradition and historical memory

Monday, 16 September 2019 

The Celebration of San Matteo occurs on the 21st of September and it symbolises the end of the summer season for the people of Salerno. Winter will have to arrive for the city to celebrate once again during the event of Luci d’Artista.

This is one of the few festivities that brings all the people of Salerno together, as it represents a link to its past, its history and the memory of the city.

Exactly one month earlier, on the 21st of August, the city begins celebrating its Patron Saint by organising a Mass at the Cathedral of Salerno, for the believers and the bearers. Right after the Mass is the moment of the popular “Alzata del panno”: it is the ceremony where a big painting of the Saint is showed with his motto: “Salerno is mine. I will protect it”.

The Celebration of San Matteo is perhaps the most beloved celebration for the people of Salerno. The popular procession bearing the saint’s image passes along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, going down through Via Velia and continuing along Via Roma,  reaching the Church of Annunziata. Once more it turns onto the Via Mercanti, and the procession finishes at the Cathedral. The three silver statues of the Holy Martyrs of Salerno, Anthes, Gaio and Fortunato, open the procession. The people from Salerno affectionately call them San Matteo’s three sisters. This is because of the sweet features of their faces and their long hair. The procession is often showered by red petals thrown from above by the faithful who watch the cortège from their balconies and windows along the street. To conclude, the crowd enjoy the stunning fireworks display with their faces upturned towards the sky.

There is no question that the bearers are the undisputed protagonists of the procession of San Matteo. You cannot become a bearer by applying for it. It’s a very ancient tradition handed down from generation to generation: you don’t do it for the show, but because you’re called to it. Just consider that the heaviest statue, San Giuseppe’s, weighs 100 kilos; it takes 48 bearers to carry it. All of them have to follow a special training regimen to accomplish the famous climbing of the stairs at the Cathedral of Salerno.

The festival of San Matteo is also undoubtedly characterized by the Mèveza Mbuttunàta (stuffed spleen), a typical regional dish that you can enjoy straight or with some bread as a panino. During the week before the 21st of September there’s no mistaking the aroma as it cooks, and the spleen is prepared according to the city’s tradition: stuffed with parsley, mint, chilli and cooked in oil and vinegar.

Would you like to be fully immersed in the lively atmosphere during the celebration of Salerno’s Patron Saint? On our website you can find our daily departures to Salerno from the ports of Cetara, Maiori, Minori, Amalfi and Positano. #goboating to Salerno and have fun discovering the stories, the flavors, and the unique local traditions only found in September.

See you on board!

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