Activities in Tuscany are innumerable, but only a few will make you feel real Tuscans!
Every city, town and sometimes neighborhood have their own traditions, wherever you go do not miss the experience of living local traditions and festivals. The most famous are those that take place in the main cities:
Palio of Siena
The Palio of Siena is a competition between the districts of Siena, in the form of a horse carousel of medieval origin. The “Carriera”, as it is traditionally called the race, It is usually held twice a year: July 2nd there is the Palio of July (in honor of the Madonna of Provenzano) and on 16 of August the Palio of Mid-August (in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption). On the occasion of exceptional events (such as in 1969 for the conquest of the moon by the Apollo 11 mission) or recurrences (eg. Centenary of the Unification of Italy) the Siena’s community may decide to make an extraordinary Palio between May and September (the last one was held in 2000 to celebrate the new millennium). This event involves the whole life of the city, the citizens viscerally love their district “Contrada” and its success can ne a one time life moment, seeing is believing!
Luminara of San Ranieri (Lighting of San Ranieri)
The Luminara of Saint Ranieri is a town festival that takes place in Pisa on the evening of June 16th, on the eve of San Ranieri, the saint patron of the city. On March 25th 1688 in the chapel of the Cathedral of Pisa was solemnly placed the urn containing the body of Scaccieri Ranieri, patron of the city, died as a saint in 1161. Cosimo III de ‘Medici wanted to replace the old casket containing the relic. The translation of the urn was the occasion for a memorable feast, from which, according to tradition, beginning a three-year illumination of Pisa.
Since then each years 100.000 candles are placed on wooden frames that go to draw the architectural forms of churches, palaces and towers of the riversides. The only exception is the Leaning Tower, lit with oil pans.
Are used special candles with a very bright flame and wind resistant.
After switching on the candles, due to the reverberate of the myriad of flickering lights in the waters of the Arno and to the shutdown of public and private illumination, the event offers to the visitors a unique suggestion of an antique flavor. The evening is concluded with fireworks display around midnight from the Citadel and near the bridge.
The celebrations in honor of the patron continue the next day in the waters of the Arno, where it is celebrated the “Regatta of San Ranieri.” Four boats as the historic districts (St. Mary, St. Francis, St. Martin and St. Anthony, respectively called the blue, the yellow, the red and the green) , with frigates inspired by the Medici Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, will compete to win the Palio of San Ranieri. The bowmen will have to climb up a rope to reach the prize at the top of the flagpole mounted on a barge in the middle of the river. The last one win a pair of ducks
Calcio storico (Historical football game)
The historic Florentine soccer, also known as livery football or costume football, is a sport that has its origins in ancient times: in latin it was called Florentinum harpastum. It consists of a team game made with a balloon filled with air. It is considered by many as the father of the game of football, although at least in the most basics resembles rugby
The earliest evidence of this game are in the fifth century, and expressed not only the rivalry between neighborhoods, but also the pride of the city. Like when, as tradition says, February 17, 1530 the people of the Florentine Republic defied the army of Emperor Charles V at a livery football game, the city was under siege for months.
Today costume football tournament is a great historical pageant that expresses the attachment of Florentines to the city and its history. It is also the mirror of his vices and virtues of the city: sense of belonging and internal divisions, courage and research of the battle, great pride for its origins and contrasts with power.
Every June in the city center are held the games between the “Calcianti” (Kickers) divided in four teams as the four Historic Districts of Florence: “Bianchi” (Whites) Santo Spirito, “Azzurri” (Blues) Santa Croce, “Rossi” (Reds) Santa Maria Novella and “Verdi” (Green) San Giovanni. Santa Croce Square became an arena in which the kickers “calcianti” express “the modern spirit of the ancient football.” The tournament ends on the day of the celebration of the city’s patron San Giovanni (June 24th).
The event expresses the character of the city that has “Heaven in the eyes, and Hell in the heart” ( Curzio Malaparte)
Fires of San Giovanni
In Florence the sayng goes: San Giovanni does not want deceits. Here, since the VI century, the city celebrate its saint patron St. John the Baptist, chosen for the clarity of its message and its brave and combative spirit .
Every 24 of June a long procession, inspired by the festivities and splendor of the ‘500 Florentine Republic, cross the city centre, than thake palce the final game of the Historical Football, flag-wavers perform in the main squares, the flags of the city are escorted across the city and the evening is offered to the Florentines and visitors a beautiful fireworks display that lights up the river Arno.
All the Florentines go along the river to enjoy the show of the “Fochi” (Fires), in the ironic spirit of the city you will here many say ” they were better (the fireworks) last year”.