Florence San Giovanni Fireworks
The origins of Florence San Giovanni holiday
The San Giovanni holiday has ancient origins. Once nobles and lords donated large candles to the cathedral to celebrate Florence’s patron saint. As the city and its lords became more powerful, the candles became richer and more and more beautiful. Some were destined for the Baptistery, others were sold and the money was used for the church.
Even today, on the morning of June 24, a small parade of citizens, including the mayor and other officials, leave Palazzo Vecchio and symbolically carry a large candle to donate to the patron of the candles in the baptistery. Here Florence’s bishop celebrates high mass (at 10:30). The long day of celebration of Florence’s patron saint ends with a gigantic fireworks display. The fireworks are set off between 10 and 11 p.m. from Piazzale Michelangelo, the ideal place so that the fireworks can be seen from all over.
The best places to watch Florence San Giovanni fireworks
One of the most frequented places to see Florence’s San Giovanni fireworks is undoubtedly the Arno beach. The Florentine word for fireworks is “fohi”, which comes from fuoco, the Italian word for fire. Since we Florentines have a hard time pronouncing the “c” in words, it becomes an “h” and makes us easily recognizable! Everyone in the rest of the country makes fun of us for it. Anyway, from the beach you can see the San Giovanni “fohi” as you stick your feet in the sand and relax on a beach blanket, with the Torre San Niccolò as the backdrop. The Arno’s banks are the most crowded place on the night of June the 24th. This is in fact the place to see the reflection of the fireworks on the river. If you want a guaranteed breathtaking view, find a place on Ponte Santa Trinita so you can see them go off over Ponte Vecchio.
Lesser known places to see Florence San Giovanni fireworks
Anyone who’s looking for an exclusive place to see the fireworks will be spoiled for choice. There are many beautiful luxury hotel terraces from which to enjoy the show. You can watch them while sipping cocktails and enjoying a candlelight dinner! Some of fantastic terraces are at the Grand Hotel Baglioni, Plaza Lucchesi, and the Westin Excelsior.
Orti del Parnaso Garden is the best solution for watching the fireworks for those who don’t love crowds. It’s at the highest point of the Giardino dell’Orticultura, Florence’s Horticulture Garden. You’ll enjoy a fabulous panoramic view with the cathedral’s dome in the background and the lighted Roster Tepidarium in a beautiful part of the city that’s ignored by tourists.
Another quiet place is Fiesole. The panoramic view of Florence from the hill of Saint Francis is romantic and ideal for enjoying the “fohi fiorentini”.