Festa della Rificolona: The Traditional Festival of Paper Lanterns in Florence

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 01:30
Typical lanterns seen in Piazza Santissima Annunziata during the Rificolona procession

Every year on September 7, the Festa della Rificolona takes place in Florence to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary.

The event is thought to have originated in the 17th century, when farmers would make pilgrimages into the city to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary for her birthday in the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata, and to sell their wares at the local market held for the occasion.

Many farmers began their journeys before dawn. To light their way, they would use lanterns tied to the end of a stick, while the candles were protected by a frame made of thin cloth.

The tradition has continued to this day, with residents and visitors carrying colorful paper lanterns of different shapes through the streets of Florence. As the procession progresses, you’ ll often hear participants singing along to a centuries-old song: “Ona, ona, ona, what a beautiful rificolona…”

It’s long been one of the most beloved traditions by children in Florence.

The procession begins at 8pm and goes from Piazza Santa Felicita to Piazza Santissima Annunziata, passing through Piazza della Signoria. 

Watch a past edition of the Rificolona here.