by Melinda Gallo

Festa di San Giovanni

Each city in Italy has its own festa (holiday), which is based on the day of the city's patrono (patron saint). Florence's patrono is San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist) is today, June 24th. I walked around a little bit earlier today and saw that many shops were closed in centro (downtown) even though the streets were filled with turisti (tourists), enjoying the city and its monuments. For tonight's fuochi d'artificio (fireworks), we decided to see them from our place instead of standing along the lungarno (street along the Arno) as we did last year.

Living in Florence :: Festa di San Giovanni

Because there was also an important partita (soccer match) between Spain and the United States for the FIFA Confederations Cup, we stayed home. After the primo tempo (first half), we ran out to get some sushi from Sushinami, a sushi take-away on via Palmieri. We had thought about getting a kebab, but the line was out the door and down the street a little bit.

We waited much longer than we had expected at the sushi take-away and the secondo tempo (second half) had already begun before we left. While we ran past a bar, I peeked in to see the television. At the end of the primo tempo, the US was winning 1-0, and now on the TV they were winning 2-0. I was so excited I had to cover my mouth to keep myself from screaming.

While walking home home, we heard a couple of big booms, which assured us that it was exactly 10pm because that's when the fuochi d'artificio were scheduled to begin. We rushed home and were happy to find out that we could see them from our living room windows. Last year we were out on a ponte (bridge) so we weren't sure we'd be able to see them from our place or not.

We put the television on so that we could follow the partita and peeked out the window to look at the fuochi d'artificio whenever possible. I looked out the window and saw crowds of people gathered in the piazza below our apartment, facing the Piazzale Michelangiolo. The lights along the Arno had been turned off to better view the fuochi d'artificio.

After the US won the partita, we watched the last few minutes of the fuochi d'artificio from our living room. I took a few foto (pictures) of the people leaving the piazza afterwards. The celebrations lasted well into the early morning hours even though the next day was a normal workday for the city.

I love that Florence has a festa that we can celebrate by taking a break from our routine, closing some of the city streets, and enjoying the fuochi d'artificio. It's unfortunate that we have to wait another year before we can commemorate Florence's festa, but I'll be watching the fuochi d'artificio no matter where I am in the city.

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