On the evening of September 7th Florentines gather on the banks of the river Arno carrying colored paper lanterns. With lanterns on sticks they take part in the procession in honor of the Virgin Mary’s Nativity, that is celebrated the following day.
This event is often called “Rificola”, as this word is a traditional name for a lantern. People also hang the lanterns from the balconies, especially in the historic centre of the city. The most amusing part of the procession is smashing each other’s lanterns.
The first such processions were held centuries ago when all the peasants from surrounding villages assembled in Piazza Santissima Annunziata to celebrate the feast. Florentines initiated smashing tradition already at that time, joyfully shooting watermelon peels into the poor peasants’ lanterns. On the occasion of the Nativity local citizens and tourists are allowed to visit the terrace of the Florence’s Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore and get the view of this beautiful city from above. The terrace is open on September 8th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The entrance is free.