by Melinda Gallo

Festa della donna

As Marta's boyfriend drove us home from dinner last night through the narrow streets near Santo Spirito, people seemed to be everywhere. Mostly women out celebrating the Festa della donna (women's day) and men looking for a good time, which means going wherever the women are.

It was a little past midnight and the streets were filled with people, walking on the sidewalks and in the street. I saw crowds of people standing outside of bars and other locali (places). Many people these days stand outside of restaurants to smoke because it's now vietato (forbidden) to smoke inside any more. But tonight the area near our house was even more animated than usual.

Many women and girls get together here in Florence and go out to different places to celebrate. And many others refuse to celebrate because of what the day represents. It stems from a horrific event that happened in America and yet I have never seen as many people celebrate it as I do here in Italy (and France). I didn't even know there was a Festa della donna (women's day) until I lived in France many years ago.

Out of curiosity, I researched it on the Internet and it turns out that the owner of a factory, named Mr. Johnson, where women were protesting because of poor working conditions locked them all inside and set it on fire. Unfortunately, all of the women died. We celebrate March 8th to remember those women and many like them who have struggled.

Everywhere I went, people said auguri (best wishes) to me for the Festa della donna (women's day). It was supposed to be a happy day for women, yet after reading about the history of today, I felt a hint of sadness too.

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