Festa della Rificolona (Festival of Paper Lanterns)- Florence, Italy
One of our favorite ways to travel is by exploring festivals as it is a way to highlight the culture at ambiance of a place with craft, food, and entertainment.
This festival celebrates the birth of Mary. The parade of people starts at Piazza Santa Croce and wraps around Florence ending at piazza Santissima Annunziata as it is dedicated to Mary. We knew very little of what to expect but we were excited to be participating in this local tradition.
Joining the back of the parade, we were in awe of the activity around us- all shapes and sizes of lanterns, many different musical instruments and bands as we processed.
Once we arrived at Santissima Annunziata it became evident the scope of this festival- there were hundreds of people squeezed into this square!
After everyone was in the square, the religious procession was the last set of people carving their way through the crowds up the the stage the lead the festival ceremony.
Among all the lanterns, we began to spot kids with spitball blow guns with a large wad of putty attached. We stood quite confused as we watched spitballs flying across the square targeting the lanterns. What kind of festival was this?
As we expected, first the victim lantern was hit, the candle inside knocked over, and the lantern quickly ignited. Where we expected to hear anger and sadness over the lost lantern, there was celebrating. More and more lanterns dissipated to dust after lighting up the square with flames.
After the religious ceremony, there were several large traditional paper lanterns set into the sky, a few of which had a rough start up with one almost flying into an open window (yep). I think we were the only ones concerned about the potential fire hazard!
We all felt humbled to be apart of this tradition for Florence!