If you are in Florence this Saturday, you’ll get the chance to experience a folkloric event: La Festa della Rificolona. In all areas of the city, but also in all surrounding municipalities large groups of children will walk the streets after sunset with (homemade) paper lanterns. In the days leading up to the event workshops are organised to make the lanterns for this typical Florentine festival.
The festival dates back to the 16th century when farmers and mountaineers went to the city to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary of the Santissima Annunziata Basilica. Besides the pilgrimage, they took the opportunity to sell their goods on the market that took place the next day on the square in front of the basilica. In order to secure a good spot on the market to sell their cheese, bread, mushrooms and other goods, they left at night from home and lid their way with a lantern on a stick. They arrived the night before the market on the square of the Basilica and spent the night under the gallery of Piazza Santissima Annunziata, where until deep into the night by the flickering light of their lanterns the singing of hymns could be heard.
The name Rificolona is a degeneration of the word fieruculone, the nickname that the Florentines gave to these peasants who came to the market (fiera).
One of the highlights of the evening takes place on the square where the festivities will officially start with the blessing of the Rificolone, followed by the award for the most beautiful lantern on the square.
The evening ends traditionally with the shooting of the lanterns with blowpipes to make them catch fire and burn.
foto credit: Flickr dhooges