Florence’s Feast of San Lorenzo & Liberation Day

Palazzo Vecchio

In Florence, August 10 is celebrated as the feast day of St. Lawrence (San Lorenzo), which is a trademark of the characteristic neighborhood around the church of San Lorenzo near the Central Market.

The day will start with a parade of residents in the traditional dress of the medieval republic of Florence walking from the Palagio di Parte Guelfa to Piazza Signoria (9:45 am), to end in Piazza San Lorenzo where city officials will offer candles (ceri) for the 11 am mass, officiated by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori.  Another mass is scheduled at 6 pm in basilica of San Lorenzo, which was once the parish church of the Medici family.

A band concert will take place starting at 8 pm in the square, Piazza San Lorenzo, followed by a free dinner offered by the neighborhood to all comers:  penne pasta with ragù (meat and tomato sauce), wine, ending with a choice of yogurt or watermelon.

The free meal on the feast of San Lorenzo is a Florentine tradition spanning centuries — in medieval times, the public was treated to pieces of grilled steak.

August 11 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Florence from the retreating German army and the fascists by Tuscan resistance fighters (partigiani) and the arrival of Allied forces. One of Palazzo Vecchio’s three bells, the “Martinella,” historically used to summon the Florentines to Piazza Signoria, will toll at 7 am as it did on August 11, 1944 at 6:45 am to announce a local uprising. Fifteen minutes later, the members of the Comitato Toscana di Liberazione Nazionale (the Tuscan Committee for National Liberation) had established a new city government in Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

Seventy-four years later, a laurel wreath will be laid on the plaque outside Palazzo Vecchio commemorating the liberation of Florence; a ceremony will take place in Piazza Santa Croce at 9:45 am to honor the war dead.  Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, will address the public from the steps of Palazzo Vecchio at 10:30 am.   In the evening, the F. Nucci Philharmonic Band of Ponte Buggianese will give a free performance in Piazza Signoria (8 pm).  (rosanna cirigliano)