To see the Tuscan night sky ablaze with hand painted lanterns is a sight to behold. The energy in Florence is reverent and joyful on the evening of September 7th, when children from around the city gather to commemorate the birth of the Virgin Mary, toting their handcrafted paper lanterns. The church of the Santissima Annunziata was built centuries ago to worship the Virgin Mary, as such, her birthday each year is cause for celebration.
As follows tradition, children from around the region craft colorful and unique paper lanterns and affix them atop sticks, which they carry in dedication to the church. Explore Florence by moonlight yourself with this guided tour. Parents, family, and onlookers crowd into the city streets to observe the spectacle and take part in the night market that has come together for the celebration. In ancient times, poorer farmers from the outlying villages in the region would come early on the 7th in order to capitalize on the event as well as be prepared for September 8th, which was generally a market day in Florence. The tradition of an evening market has continued to the present day and now the procession on the 7th attracts a large and varied night market. For a taste of the local offerings and an in-depth explanation of Florentine cuisine, opt for a Florence food tour.
The children’s procession begins at the Piazza Santa Felicita and continues through to Piazza Santissima Annunziata. The young group is guided by the Cardinal, who makes a speech at the final point of the parade. After the close of his speech, a party is held in the main square where you can often hear live music as well as partake in the delicacies offered by the vendors.
If you’re traveling to Florence with your own young ones, bring them to see their Italian peers get artsy with lantern making. You can also take them on a creative scavenger hunt through the city. If this kind of an activity sounds like fun for yourself instead of your young ones, get creative and immerse yourself in Florentine culture in one unique Whodunit evening of sleuthing through the city.
Have you ever witnessed this lovely procession? Are there any similarly crafty activities where you’re from? How do you imagine the tone of the evening is on this late summer’s eve? What types of Italian cuisine do you think would pair nicely with a night in the Piazza?