The Renaissance craddle
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La Cavalcata dei Magi
on January 6
Cavalcata dei Magi ( the Three Wise Men horse ride) is a solemn procession in costume along the streets of Florence historic center and every year it sees the Three Wise Men parading, followed by the Corteo of the Florentine Republic. The parade is inspired to the famous Benozzo Gozzoli’s fresco exposed in the Cappella dei Magi inside Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. It starts from Piazza Pitti and goes along the ancient streets of the city till the cathedral Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Here many gifts are left in front of the image of the Lord, as a memory of the Three Wise Men visit to Jesus; while the Opera del Duomo gives small gifts to the children.
Festa di San Giovanni – San Giovanni Celebration
on June 24
The celebration, organized in honor of Florence’s patron San Giovanni Battista, has ancient origins: since in the Middle Ages, on the 24th of June, the heralds were used to celebrate in the main spots of the city. Following the tradition, during this day the nobles and masters had to give candles and poles to the saint. A part of these gifts should burn in the Baptistery all year long. With the growth of the power of Florence, the candles became even bigger and adorned. Still today, during the morning of the 24th of June, a small procession parades between the streets of the center in order to offer the candles to its patron. The most awaited event is, however, the firework display on Piazzale Michelangelo during the evening.
Festa del Grillo
The origin of the celebration Festa del Grillo ( the Cricket’s Festival) dates back to the old celebrations for the arrival of spring, when the youths, after having adorned their girlfriends’ doors and windows with flowers, were used to give to their beloveds a little cage with a cricket as a gift. In the popular tradition the singing cricket was in fact considered a good-luck charm and protector of the hearth. Nowadays, during this celebration, parents give their children small cages, where to place inside graphic or sonorous crickets’ reproductions.
on May 23. Piazza della Signoria
The Fiorita (the Flowered) is a celebration organized in honor of Frà Girolamo Savonarola, Dominican and prior of San Marco, burned at the stake on the 23rd of May 1498 in Piazza della Signoria. Today, to honor him, a Mass is celebrated at Palazzo Vecchio, while the square is adorned with flowers (hence the name) and hosts a musical and the exhibition of the “sbandieratori” (flag weavers).
Calcio Storico Fiorentino
June. Piazza Santa Croce
The Calcio Storico Fiorentino is an old game practised by the legion soldiers of the roman Florentia as an athletic exercise. The most famous and unforgettable match of “Calcio in Livrea” was played on the 17th of February 1530 in Piazza Santa Croce between the “whites” and “greens”, while the city was besieged by the Imperial troops. The champions of this game, called “calcianti” (kickers), were originally identified in the collective imagination as good-looking gentlemen who performed in sumptuous uniforms. Among the famous players, there are many figures from the Medici family and other Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The Calcio Storico, also called “Calcio in costume” (costume football), was played till the XVIII century on Carnival’s day or in occasion of particular festivities, in the main squares of the city. Unfortunately this tradition fell into disuse until May 1930 (the fourth centenarian of Florence’s siege). Today there are only three matches: two semifinals and one final, that has to be played on San Giovanni’s Day (the 24th of June). During the tournament, according to a tradition from the Sixteenth Century, the teams of the four Florentine historic quarters challenge each other: the “Greens” for San Giovanni’s quarter, the “Reds” for Santa Maria Novella’s one, the “Blues” for Santa Croce’s one and the “Whites” for the one of Santo Spirito. The team that realizes the biggest number of “caccia”, the equivalent of goals, at the end of every match receives a veal as a gift.
Scoppio del Carro
on Easter’s Sunday. Piazza del Duomo
Scoppio del Carro (carriage’s blast) is a celebration with ancient roots and still today it is celebrated according to the typical features of that time. The protagonist of the day is a carriage from the XVIII century, on the center of it there is a stone thread, on which a dove slips at Easter Sunday noon. At this point a series of firecrackers and thousands of clouds of smoke, along with whistles and bursts that will color the carriage, are started. The highlight of the show is the activation of the carriage’s pinwheel which, after a crash, opens up like lily petals. On the petals are pictured the emblems of Florence, of the ancient Pazzi family, of the art of wool and of the ONU. The carriage is accompanied by the procession of the clergy, that from the church China dei Santissimi arrives to the Baptistery, where the sacred functions begin.
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