On June 24th, Florence celebrates its patron saint, St. John the Baptist which is considered the symbol of moral rectitude and political correctness and this is a day of celebration for whole city.
Every year for San Giovanni different cultural and folk events take place (which culminate with the evocative fireworks or the “fochi” of San Giovanni, as the Florentines call them).
The festivity of San Giovanni has ancient origins: once, nobles and lords donated candles to celebrate the patron saint of Florence. With the growth of the power of the city and its lords, the candles became more and more beautiful and rich and some were destined for the Baptistery, while the others were sold, and the proceeds went to the Church.
Morning: procession and mass
Even today, during the morning of the 24th of June, a small city procession starts from Palazzo Vecchio and symbolically bears a gift to the patron of the candles in the Baptistery, even the mayor of Florence and other authorities take part in it. Here the Archbishop of Florence receives the offer, and everyone then goes to the Cathedral for the celebration of a solemn mass at 10:30.
Boating on the Arno
During the festivity of San Giovanni boat visits are usually organized, both during the day and during the fireworks. The Renaioli host visitors on board their special boat.
Reopening of the San Niccolò Tower
June 24th is the day of the reopening of the Tower of San Niccolò, one of the towers of the ancient circle of the walls of Florence that, after being restored, was opened to the public, but only in the summer. The Tower will be open until September 30th, every day from 5 to 8 pm. The tower can be accessed in small guided (in Italian, English, French and Spanish) groups.
The night of San Giovanni
Rediscover the magical atmosphere of the historic centre of Florence with one of the most ancient road races in Italy. With a racing course of 10Km that winds among the most beautiful places around the city. The race takes place during the night starting at 9 pm and finishing in Piazza S. Giovanni in front of the Sagrato del Duomo. For those who do not want to run there is also the 4 km non-competitive Family Walk.