...being there, but without the crowds
1. La Confraternite in festa
2. La processione
It is with great pleasure that I intend to add something to my decades of experience in Siena and Pamplona: the possibility of “being there, but without the crowds” in Seville as well, for the exceptional celebration of the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, the days preceding Easter Sunday.
Since this tradition is associated with Easter, the dates change every year: in 2020, this essentially means the days between April 5 and 11, both included.
For this event, the city of Seville wears its best dress, as we may well say: not only banners draped from the balconies in the town centre, but the whole population dresses up elegantly as a sign of respect for Christ’s Passion. In these days, the city essentially splits up between the thousands of people that physically take part in the processions, and those who admire and support them from the side of the streets: a well-behaved and elegant presence, very sober, that helps create an intense yet quite pleasant atmosphere, attentive and at the same time very free.
The majority of Sevillanos - who well know the maze of alleys that makes up their town centre - spend their days (and nights!) moving from one procession to another, to admire this and that paso (the floats carried on their shoulders by the faithful, divided between cruz and palio), to greet a friend who is a nazareno (those who actually make up the procession, with typical peaked headpieces, called capirotes) belonging to an hermanada (Brotherhood) and then another friend of another fraternity. In the meantime, they meet other friends and acquaintances on the street, stopping at a bar for a beer or a snack, thus multiplying the already considerable energy of the town, while still maintaining a very measured behaviour, without the clamour and exaggeration that are typical of other events of great popular acclaim.
While watching from the street is for free, fascinating and advisable for everybody, we should not forget that every procession lasts between seven and eight hours. So people who do not have acquaintances in town and/or are not aware of the routes and details of the processions find it hard to get the full picture without getting exhausted. Also, the view from the street, although certainly significant, cannot be compared to the one from an upper floor: this is where you get to appreciate what a procession with an average of 2,000 people is like! Especially when evening falls, and the candles of the faithful light up the night, amidst the silence of the admiring throngs.
As usual I offer solutions in private apartments that allow you to follow the processions from a privileged point of view, with the comfort of having room on the back to rest, freshen up, snack and use sanitary facilities. In particular, the most significant and absolutely exclusive offers are those of “Semana Santa by the hour” and the “balcony tour” detailed on the following pages.
See you soon in Seville
Jacopo Mauro della Torre