Bastille Day Festivities Bring France to Florence

Bastille Day festivities will take to Florence’s Piazza Ognissanti this Friday. Photo courtesy of the French Institute of Florence.

Friday the 13th is something to celebrate with this year’s Bastille Day festivities in Piazza Ognissanti. Offering free admission, the French holiday moves to Italy with an evening of dancing, dining, and drinking, commemorating 229 years of French democracy.

Bastille Day honors July 14th, 1789: a day demarcating the end of absolute monarchy during the French Revolution. On this day, Parisians stormed the Bastille military fortress in a showdown against the traditional regime. A turning point of the revolution, Bastille Day has become a tribute to French nationalism and country pride, providing the opportunity for the world to come together and pay homage to efforts of the past.

While this year’s celebration is a day before the exact anniversary of Bastille Day, the sentiment remains the same. Run by the French Institute of Florence, the Italian rendition of the event begins at 8 pm, offering champagne to guests while supplies last. The party then turns to the square, where radio voice Tony Topazio, DJ Fred Gramigna, and the Opus Ballet Company will entertain visitors until midnight. With dances choreographed by Angela Placanica and Aurelie Mounier, the Opus Ballet Company brings an artistic interpretation to the holiday, giving guests something to watch as well as remember.

Those attending Friday’s festivities can further celebrate the French holiday with expressions of freedom; the French Institute plans to set up white sheets with felt-tip pens, letting visitors scribble their thoughts in accordance with the French motto “Les murs ont la parole.”

In addition to enjoying Bastille Day activities, guests can visit the refectory of the Ognissanti church to look further into the past. Painted in 1480, the Last Supper decorates the refectory wall with a harmonious fresco depicting the traditional religious scene. Open from 8 pm to 11 pm, Ognissanti invites guests to observe the painting every Friday until September 28.

Though a French holiday, Bastille Day has spread its legacy throughout Europe, coming to Florence and uniting Europeans with a common celebration of freedom. (anna staropoli)