June is maybe one of the most interesting, fun months to visit Florence (and surrondings), as there are many events organized to celebrate the city's patron saint and which draw thousands of visitors, creating a contagious and joyful atmosphere. Summer is in the air, so while the number of visitors in Florence rises (and will keep rising throughout the summer), the days are also longer and warmer so you can enjoy many hours outside, even after sunset enjoying the starlit Tuscan sky. In Florence, fireworks are part of the celebrations on June 24th, while just a few weeks later Fiesole will also celebrate St. Romolus, their patron saint, with more fireworks.
St. John the Baptist and Calcio Storico
Topmost for Florence in June are two of the most important, traditional dates for the Florentine calendar: the Patron Saint’s feast day celebrating St. John the Baptist and the Calcio Storico Fiorentino.
Keep in mind the FINAL game for Calcio Storico is always played on June 24th as part of the celebrations for the patron saint, but the semi-finals are played before-hand in June. The Calcio Storico is a competition dating back to the 16th century between four teams that represents the four historical quarters of the city, playing - but actually there is quite a lot of violence involved - against each other in a game like no other. Always hosted in Piazza Santa Croce, which is prepared with dirt/sand to recreate the original setting, while participants are dressed in historical costumes (for the most part). This coming June, the two semi-final games will be played on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16, while the final will be played on June 24 as every year. The final game is preceeded by a parade in historical costume, the Corteo Storico Fiorentino, which leaves from Piazza Santa Maria Novella and wind its way through the streets of the city center to get to Piazza Santa Croce, ending with the entrance of the 4 teams into the square. For further information, hours and ticket prices, take a look at the dedicated page on the city of Florence's official website (page only in Italian).
At the end of the day, amazing fireworks will be launched from Piazzale Michelangelo. This is the moment that everyone, both locals and tourists alike, most eagerly await since they are obviously free and may be watched comfortably from along the Arno’s banks. During the morning of June 24, a small civic parade with the city Mayor usually leaves from Palazzo Vecchio to symbolically taking an offering of candles to St. John to the Baptistery in Piazza del Duomo where the Archibishop of Florence receives the offering and then celebrates the Holy Mass in the Cathedral. Take a look at this article for further information about the the celebrations in Florence throughout the entire day.
June at the table
The rest of the month, you can join in both in Florence and in surroundings on traditional summer events revolving around food - one of the best ways to enjoy traveling through Italy!
From May 31 to June 6, Pontassieve will be home to a folkloric event designed to celebrate the territory and its typical products: Toscanello d’Oro will be honoring made in Tuscany food products, with wine at the very top!
Another culinary festival will be held in Chiesanuova (San Casciano Val di Pesa) from June 2 to 12, dedicated to a small but very savoury fruit: the pine nut. Ten days of music, entertainment for children and grown-ups, fireworks displays and obviously many, many delicious pine nut recipes, including the renowned pinolata (you have to taste this soft cake made with pine nuts and shortbread and then try to recreate it at home!)
Certaldo Alto will host a very special gastronomic festival on June 4 and 11, now in its 16th year: A cena da Messer Giovanni, a medieval dinner during which a huge, long table will be set all along via Boccaccio with wood settings to recreate the original atmosphere of that times. Participants will be served typical medieval dishes by waiters dressed up in historical costumes. The dinner is hosted on these two dates to allow everyone the opportunity to step back in time, enjoy some delicious food in good company and enjoy the entertainment of the times, from jugglers to acrobats and then enjoy beautiful fireworks to end the evening. Take a look at this website for more info, cost per person and the detailed menu. Reservation in advance required.
Photo credit leo_leibovici
To continue the theme of past times and tastes, head to the center and below the tower in Vinci, hometown to the genius Leonardo da Vinci, on June 24 to the Menar mascelle all’or di cena, a dinner offering Renaisance dishes.
On the last Sunday of June, head to Lecore, a small fraction of Signa, for the Volo di Cecco Santi e la Sagra del Ranocchio, an historical reenactment of the love story of Cecco Santi and his sentence to death by "flight" from the castle's tower (event usually held in Vinci also). A delightful, tasteful accompaniment to the evening will be the frog festival, with culinary local delights.
The famous itinerant street food manifestation will be stopping in San Casciano Val di Pesa from June 10 to 12, so don't miss the chance to try out some of the most delicious street and finger food dishes of all Italy: there will be stands coming from all over the country bringing their traditional recipes and specialties all around.
A few more dates with the local sagre, that begin to spread out over the territory with this new warmer season: the Sagra delle Fragole (Strawberry Sagra) in Scarperia on June 4 and 5 (culinary stands, traditional markets, sport, dance and music exhibitions, live concerts and typical dinner with products from the Mugello valley); Palazzolo, Incisa and Figline Valdarno will be housing the Sagra del Porcino Mushroom from June 3 to 5.
Adventurous, Sportive Tuscans
The traditional sport event that used to take place throughout the Chianti territory until a few decades ago - The Chianti Marathon - will be brought to life this coming 5 June, guiding all participants to the discovery of one-of-a-kind landscapes, immersed in the amazing vineyards typical of Chianti. A sort of successful combination of sport and territory, a race into the past, the history, the culture and the traditions of this wonderful region that will offer 3 differently long itineraries: the marathon (42 km), the half marathon (20 km) and the short trail (10 km) passing thorough San Casciano Val di Pesa, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and Greve in Chianti. More info and registrations on the site http://www.chianticlassicomarathon.com
Cerbaia, a small fraction of Florence, will be home to the Palio dei Ciuchi manifestation on June 5 and 12, a traditional event with gastronomical stands, markets and sport competitions. On the last Sunday of the feast, June 12, there will be the most eagerly awaited of the manifestation, a funny race between donkeys...see to believe it!
Head to Scarperia, the small but charming Renaissance town in the Mugello valley known worldwide for its production of high quality knives to see the Sharp Tools Market/Exhibition, where visitors will have the possibility to admire and buy handmade knives and tools realized by some of the most famous master craftsmen of Scarperia. Stay tuned for the new dates of this 2016 edition.
Gambassigena will be housing once again many interesting initiatives spread all over the territory of Gambassi Terme and surroundings until September 23, proposing a step back into the ancient traditions, the old crafts and the culinary culture of this marvellous region, amidst rows of grapes and vineyards. Events, guided hiking tours, e-bike and horseback excursions over the same path that ancient pilgrims heading to Rome used to hike over. You'll be learning more about the via Francigena, its culture and history, as well as the faith that guided pilgrims across this long pilgrimage route; you'll also have the chance to visit local and biological farms and wine cellars, artisans' workshops and typical shops, do some wine tasting and take part in cultural and food courses surrounded by this exclusive eco-friendly context. Take a look at this website for more information, highly recommend checking out the whole month's calendar to decide what to do!
Last days to visit the eagerly awaited Mostra del Chianti di Montespertoli, that will be ending on June 5. Many events still in program for this 59th edition, with wine being - obviously - the main protagonist of this enchanting trip into the tradition and flavours of the Chianti territory.
Radda nel Bicchiere (literally, Radda inside the Glass) will be housing - on June 4 and 5 - the best wine producers of the area: stands spread out all over the main street of the town, laboratories and conferences will be highlighting the local high quality wine production.
Even if dates for this coming June are still to be confirmed, San Donato in Poggio will be home - as usually - to Il Bruscello, a celebration of the region of Chianti and its culinary and traditional greatest of wonders: gastronomic stands, tastings of the most representative products of the area, a market exhibition with the best of the local handicraft and food stuff, theatre plays celebrating Tuscan tradition and culture, exhibitions, conferences and workshops, parades in historical costumes with flag throwers, drummers and archers. Lots of things to entertain everyone!
Finally, Mugello Comics 2016 will be housed in Piazza Cavour in Barberino del Mugello on June 4 and 5, a manifestation that will gather all Italian and foreign comics passionates, coshplayers and editors together, giving life to one-of-a-kind manifestation where you'll be able to approach to this wonderful and playful world (or, going deeper into its misteries if you already are a passionate!) for two days of fun and lightheartedness.
Ready to go? Have a good trip and... a lot of fun!