Chapter 6 - Festival of the Paper Lanterns
Giulia was down the hallway merchandising the showroom at the front of the building for a small, private sale to some American clients who were in Florence the month of September for La Festa delle Rificolone (the Festival of the Paper Lanterns) and Marymas - the celebration of the birth of Mary. Each year, the city of Florence hosts a walk through the city wherein Florentines and tourists walk through the city carrying paper lanterns illuminated from within by candles. It’s a tradition dating back to the Renaissance when pilgrims gathered in front of Santissima Annunziata - the Church of the Most Holy Annunciation. The Cardinal of Florence speaks in the Piazza Santissima Annunziata with the main procession starting at Piazza Santa Croce.
The following day, the festivities continue at Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fior (St. Mary of the Flower) - better known as the Duomo. Its cornerstone was laid on September 8, 1296 and Mary’s birth has been celebrated there ever since. In her honor, the terrace surrounding the base of the Cathedral is open to the public. The vantage provides a birds-eye view of the surrounding hills and the concentric circles upon which the city is architecturally organized as well as a view of the lacy Gothic windows of the Bell Tower. Across the Arno, San Miniato, Portages San Niccolo, Forte Belvedere and Pitti Palace are visible beyond. Looking South you can see Santa Croce, the Orsanmichele, the Bargello, and Palazzo Vecchio.
It’s a beautiful experience and one that draws many of Alba’s faithful clients each autumn. Barbara Leeds and MarionHamnett were in Florence on a biennial art tour while their husbands were in Europe for a banking conference in Interlaken, Switzerland. Apparently, Barbara was redoing their yacht and looking for some small, water-themed paintings for the main living space.