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June 17, 2011 / TAB

Pisa- La Luminara

Pisa is not all Tower and Duomo. On the evening of June 16th, citizens of Pisa begin their celebration of their patron saint’s day (San Ranieri) by lighting the city with candles, especially along the Arno River. The tradition started in 1688 when Cosimo III of the Medici wanted the saint’s funeral urn to to be saluted in a grand way. This lead to a city feast and the illumination of the city. The following day a grand regatta is held on the river on the actual saint’s day. On the final day of the celebration, the urn of ashes is taken through the city in a solemn procession.
Candles and bonfires were used to celebrate other special events but now the Luminara takes a special form concentrating on highlighting architectural forms of the buildings along the Arno with white wooden frames. As evening starts, people begin lining the river, staking out their positions on the walls or bridges, chatting and eating from the numerous food stalls. Children run around with large balloons and lighted hats, mouse ears, swords, and flying saucers. Once situated, it’s almost impossible to move to another location. I tried to get some other angles on my way back to the hotel but the walls were solidly packed with people and I couldn’t get my camera into a space for a photo.
As the skies slowly started to darken, the lights from the candles began to stand out. The lit candles had been placed earlier by men in “cherry pickers” or by residents who could reach the frames from their windows. Now they were shinning brightly. At one point, one of the regatta boats came down the river, lit with candles and showing a large banner of San Ranieri. As it turned out, this was the only boat I saw. At 11:00 pm (11:23 this night), fireworks are set off.

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As usual, information varies before hand and times can be flexible. When I planned this event, the regatta was to be held in the afternoon. So I booked my hotel for just one night and was willing to hang around. However on the day, the time kept getting later and later until it wasn’t happening until 9 pm. Since I had a 2 hour drive back to my accommodations, that was too late for me. Next time I’ll know to stay over another day in order to se the whole show.

One Comment

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  1. ytaba36 / Jun 20 2011 11:21 pm

    It’s so good to hear about a different side of Pisa … not that there’ s anything wrong with the tower! What a shame you had to leave early.


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