One of my absolute favorite things about living in another country is experiencing little things that are completely different than things back “home.” Living in Italy for a year, one of my priorities is to really experience the country. Visiting a country as a tourist doesn’t allow you the same opportunities as living somewhere for an extended period of time does, and so when I got here I set out about finding a couple of good sources on local events. Because of budgetary concerns as well as my desire to get to know Florence a little better as a community, I’m pretty committed to not traveling over the next month, unlike some of my study-abroad roommates, so that gives me time to explore. When I looked at the calendar, I noticed that there was a local “festival” occurring on 7 Settembre in the city, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check it out… even though it didn’t start until 8:30 PM! Check out the video below of the procession!
The festival involved a processional (see above) which started in one piazza and ended in one that is coincidentally less than a five minutes walk from my apartment, so I just opted to head down to the end of it around 9. Got down to the square a couple of minutes early… lots of locals milling about and just waiting around. The processional came through… the bishop and some church representatives were leading it, and it came into the square and then a bunch of people spoke, including the bishop. Rificolone involves two main sets of children: the ones carrying the lanterns, some traditional, some unique, and the ones shooting spitballs at them. Some historians claim that villagers used the lanterns to light their paths as they made their way to the church to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary (noted on the 7th), and there was also a market in town the next day. The lanterns were continually used in town after arrival and a tradition was born. The winning lantern this year (most creative, I think) was of the pope. Too funny!
This was such an amazing experience and a good example of why you should always be open to an adventure… and check out the local blogs before you go! I never would have known about this festival if not for reading about it online. Back to the present day, things are going well here! It’s so much fun to be back here and experiencing the city in a completely different way than I did three and a half years ago. Check out below for some more cool photos of the experience. For example, I thought this Ponte Vecchio lantern was pretty sweet:
Above, a general crowd view of Florentines and some lanterns; below, the (arch)bishop?
And here you can see some kids trying to shoot them down:
And the final step for the lanterns is the burning: