Florence, June 24
THE HISTORY: FROM GOD MARTE TO SAN GOVANNI BATTISTA The choice of San Giovanni Battista as the Saint Patron of the city of Florence, comes only after the total transformation of the city to Christianity. Initially, the Patron (or Protector) of the city was the God Marte whose statue was located at the north entrance of Ponte Vecchio and remained there until 1333, when it was completely destroyed by the Arnio flooding.
It was however in the Longobard period (6th to 7th century), that San Giovanni Battista was recognize as the Saint Patron of Florence. San Giovanni Battista was already chosen as the Saint Patron of the Longobard people. In fact, it is in this period that the San Giovanni Baptistery was reconstructed in Florence (6th-7th century) over the rubbles of what it once was the Marte Temple.
The selection of San Giovanni wasn't only first and foremost for his clear and brief pedagogy, but also for his strong and courageous personality. However, it was until June 24th in the 13th century that the first celebration dedicated to San Giovanni Battista took place.
Thanks to these celebrations the San Giovanni Baptistery and the Duomo Square became the city heart of the Religious and Political life of Florence. In fact,it is in front of the Baptistery that the festivities of June 24 end. History narrates that an ancient tradition asked to the Noble people of Florence to donate their big candles richly ornamented which had then to be burned in front of the Baptistery. Originally, the festivisty ended with a large candle that was transported in a wagon from Piazza Signoria to the front of the Baptistery. That same wagon named Carro di San Giovanni (San Giovanni's Wagon) gave birth to the Scoppio del Carro festivity (Wagon's Outburst); however, at a second stage, this festivity was devoted only to Easter ceremonies instead to the Patron.
June 24th, it's a day where several festivities take palce in Florence throughout the day such as parades, the Rowing Club competition along the Arno river, fireworks, etc.
The final game of the Calcio in Costume (football soccer in costumes) was played on this same day. The famous Historic Florentine Football, was a peppy Medieval version of football, usually played in Santa Croce square. In 2006, the event was cancelled because an article of a document from the fifth council commission of sport and culture prohibits sporting events that cause violent celebrations by its fans. ?The unjustify events that took place on the opening match of the 2006 edition, forced the Municipality of Florence to take action on this important sporting event.?
In order to salute the Saint Patron, at around 9:00pm, you can admire a firework show in Florence. The best spot to see them it's in Ponte Santa Trinita (Santa Trinita Bridge). From there you can see Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), and behind it the beautiful fireworks reflecting in the Arno river. The bridge and its surrounding streets gets jammed of people, so it is recommended that Florentine people having houses with view towards Piazzale Michelangelo open their doors to their friends and relatives, so you can enjoy the show in company of your loved ones.
Again, during the same weekend it is usually organized another funny event, concerning just one side of the city: Nottarno, la notte bianca in Oltrarno (Nottarno, the White Night in the Oltrarno zone). Various and different events will be organized and dislocated along the streets and squares of the city district, and have been already inserted in the program of the night : music, exhibitions and various kinds of entertainment. On the occasion, shops, pubs and restaurants of the Oltrarno district stay open all night long and arrange tables on the streets of the centre.