According to ancient accounts, Saint John the Baptist became the patron saint of Florence in the Lombard age, and was a dominant presence in the city’s life for centuries. Religious and civic ceremonies were organized to pay solemn tribute to him, and also to affirm the power of Florence in the eyes of the world at large. The Baptistery was built in his honour, and in ancient times heralds would announce the various festivities in key points around the city, while the nobles and upper classes were notified of their obligation to make offerings of candles. Some of the candles donated to Saint John were then used through the year in the Baptistery. As Florence’s power increased, the candles became enormous and more and more richly decorated. Even today, on the morning of 24 June a small procession goes from Palazzo Vecchio to offer up candles to the city’s patron saint.
At night let’s enjoy the FIREWORKS display
On 24 June the biggest attraction for Florentines nowadays is the firework display (the fuochi di San Giovanni) that takes place in Piazzale Michelangelo in the evening. The show, starting at 10 p.m., which lasts about an hour and ends with a final “big bang”, draws huge crowds, especially to the Lungarni.