martedì 18 giugno 2013

The festivity of San Giovanni in Florence

written by Ilaria Gelichi

A very important date for the city of Florence is coming: June the 24th, the feast of the patron saint of the city, San Giovanni.
San Giovanni was chosen as patron saint of Florence during the Longobards’ domination (7th -11th century) for the clearness of his teachings and for his brave and combative personality. It is in fact in this same period that the Baptistery of San Giovanni was built. San Giovanni was celebrated for the first time in the 13th century and also nowadays it is in front of the Baptistery in Piazza del Duomo that the celebrations end.

Since Middle Ages, San Giovanni has been considered a great festivity by the Florentines. Nowadays the celebration starts with the Mass in the morning, then it goes on with historical re-enactments, flag-wavers shows and parades. The parade in the morning goes from Piazza della Signoria to Piazza del Duomo with people dressed in Renaissance style carrying the banner of the city. Then in the afternoon you can watch the final match of Calcio Storico Fiorentino (Calcio in Costume), in Piazza Santa Croce.

Despite its name, the game of Calcio in Costume does not look like football (“calcio” means football or soccer in Italian), but it is much more similar to rugby. It was not played as a sport originally: it was probably invented in military camps as training for soldiers during periods of rest, so that they would not loose the skills for fighting. It has been played from the 16th to the end of the 18th century, then again since 1930 to present day. Nowadays there are 3 matches of Calcio in Costume, the final one being played on the 24th of June. There are 4 teams, one for each historic neighbourhood of Florence: “Bianchi” (White) for Santo Spirito, “Azzurri” (Blue) for Santa Croce, “Rossi” (Red) for Santa Maria Novella and “Verdi” (Green) for San Giovanni.

In the evening, at 10 pm, there is the most long-awaited event of the day: the fireworks, or as Florentines say, “i fochi”. They are fired from Piazzale Michelangelo, so the best places to watch them are Ponte Santa Trinita or Lungarni. You will admire the Ponte Vecchio with fireworks in the background, reflecting in the river Arno. Amazing and not to be missed!

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