Florence celebrates festa di San Giovanni

June 24 holiday packed with events

Editorial Staff
June 23, 2005

Florence celebrates its patron saint, San Giovanni, on June 24th, and as happens in all Italian cities celebrating their respective patron saints, the day is a local holiday. Florentines will close up their shops on the 24th in anticipation of evening activities.


Florence has long marked the Festa di San Giovanni with a traditional parade through the centre, a Calcio Storico match in Piazza Santa Croce, and, later in the evening, a fireworks display over the Arno River (see Top Picks, p.9). Records of the first celebrations of San Giovanni as the city’s patron saint date back to the 14th century, when the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the surrounding piazza were the heart of Florence’s religious and political life.


An unofficial tradition that has also been added to the holiday is eating a gelato after the fireworks display. Every year, gelato shops are inundated all over the city with festival goers reaching for cones full of their favourite flavours, thus giving the holiday its nickname, Festa del gelato.

This year, the City has decided to add several more attractions to the day’s already full list of events.

Not only will almost all of the central piazzas be host to food stands and musical performances, but museums and shops will be staying open until midnight. June 24th is set to be the second trial run (the first trial was the fairly successful May 21 late-night piazza festival) for the all night Nottata Fiorentina festival that will be held some time next Summer.


Officials are also boasting that the fireworks display, comprising hundreds of fireworks shot from just under Piazzale Michelangelo and exploding just over the Arno River at the Lungarno Zecca, will be unforgettable this year and should last almost an hour.


Parking will be difficult, and the centre will be crowded. Arriving early is advisable for those wanting to secure a front row seat along the banks of the Arno.


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