For over 150 years on the last Sunday in July, the sea around the Adriatic coastal town of Pescara is awash with action as a flotilla of fishing boats and pleasure craft form the procession of St. Andrew.
As the fishing community prospered, they erected a church and dedicated it to St. Andrew, who, on the banks of the Jordan, met John the Baptist and later became the first disciple and the first apostle: it was he who brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus before the feeding of the five thousand.
Although being the patron saint of Amalfi and with the official celebratory date internationally being November 30, Pescara, in the Abruzzo region, chose to celebrate his life at the end of July with a unique procession that incorporates the land and the sea.
On the day of celebration, crowds gather in the centre of the town and wait for the procession to begin at 11 am. A statue of the saint is carried aloft and followed by the parish priests, town dignitaries, a band and finally the spectators who have been gathered there since the early morning.
The procession makes its way towards the coast moving parallel to the river on its way down to the harbour where the boats are waiting. The band continues to play as the statue is blessed before being taken aboard a fishing boat and the procession continues, this time moving out to sea where, once in a central position in the harbour, wreathes are cast overboard in celebration and remembrance of all those who gave their lives to the sea.
This procession in Pescara, the birthplace of the Italian writer and poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, Prince of Montenevoso, attracts a large crowd and is worthy of the few hours it takes to complete before the onlookers disperse to complete the celebrations with a family feast.
By car from the autostrada, A14 from Bari, take the exit Pescara Ovest, and from Bologna the exit Pescara Nord. From the autostrada A25 from Rome, take the exit marked Chieti-Pescara.
There are regular coach services from both Naples and Rome to Pescara with Arpa, Prontobus and Gruppo La Panoramica, check their websites for timetables and fares at: www.arpaonline.it; www.prontobusitalian.it; www.gruppolapanoramica.it.