June 24th is a special day for Florence – it’s Saint John Feast Day, the patron saint of the city, the saint to whom the Baptistery is dedicated, and during the day there are different events around the city celebrate it! Every year, on June 24th, Florence celebrates the feast of its patron, San Giovanni, with a series of exhibitions that involve the entire city.
St. John the Baptist has been the city’s Patron Saint since the time of the Lombard times. Florentines probably chose this particular saint because the previous protector of the city was the warlike god Mars, and courageous St. John must have seemed a worthy substitute. Secondly because his teachings were short, simple and to the point. Upright and inflexible, St. John was thus the ideal protector for a comunity whose wealth was based on commerce and to whom reputation was like ready money.
So St. John the Baptist feast begins on the morning of June 24th: the traditional offering of a candle for St. John has survived to this day. The Historic Parade starts from Piazza della Signoria and continues towards the Baptistery of the Cathedral with an offering of candles for the patron. After the parade, a solemn mass follows with the exposure of the Saint’s relics.
In the afternoon of June 24th, it’s time for one of the most popular events linked to the Feast of St. John the Baptist is the Calcio storico fiorentino, also known as “historic Florentine soccer,” which is held in Piazza Santa Croce. Historical re-enactment of an ancient ancestor game maybe football. The tournament takes place between the teams of the four historic districts of the city. After a long parade from Santa Maria Novella one of the most traditional piazzas of Florence, Santa Croce, becomes the “stadium” where you can watch the Historic Florentine Soccer born in the 16th Century.
The game is more similar to rugby or American football in its modern version, with rules that seem to be virtually non-existent, ranging from punches and kicks with blows below the belt. aim of the game is to score a “hunt “, ( that is, to get the ball in the ” port ” the opponent ), and do this almost every means is permissible .
At the conclusion, on the evening of the 24th, there is a traditional fireworks display in Piazzale Michelangelo called fuochi di San Giovanni (St John’s fireworks).
The traditional fireworks over the Arno date from the 17th century and replace the festive fires that were lit for the summer solstice and later became a feature of St. John’s Day.
The fireworks normally begin at 10 pm, and we recommend you arrive a little bit earlier to find a nice spot from which to enjoy the show! (the Arno River banks are normally really crowded!). Some people arrive at 7pm, the best spot is at Ponte Santa Trinità or Ponte alla Carraia.
In short, you have booked a stay in Florence exactly to coincide with June 24? Well, some then you’re lucky, you will have the opportunity to participate live in one of the oldest and heartfelt celebrations of the city.