Every year on June 24th, there is a day-long city wide celebration with a series of events celebrating Florence’s patron saint, San Giovanni Battista.

San Giovanni Celebration History

The reason why San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) is the patron saint of Florence and widely celebrated in this area, is because, according to Christian beliefs, he was the prophet who recognised Jesus as the Messiah and baptised him. He is widely admired because he was resolute in his teachings, never going back on his word.

San Giovanni was so resolute with his teachings that he openly denounced Herod, the brutal ruler of Judea who violently crushed any dissent to his rule. In a testimate to his brutality, his fear that no one would mourn his death ran so deep that he ordered many distinguished men be killed as he died so that people would mourn on the day of his death.

San Giovanni Holy Water

From 23-24 of June, the people of Florence take a bowl of water and fill it with various flowers and herbs such as rosemary and roses. They then leave this bowl out overnight in a window where the moonlight can reach it. It is during this time of the year it is believed which these flowers are percieved to hold the greatest energy and charged with powerful protective powers. It is said that the women should go out on the sunset of June 23rd and collect the herbs and flowers in many varieties. The next morning you wash your face and hands with this water which is supposed to cleanse any bad spirits and omens.


(Image of San Giovanni Battista)

The celebration of San giovanni Battista

The celebration of San Giovanni is kicked off in the morning of June 24th by a parade in Piazza del Duomo. It starts as a procession of the city authorities, flag bearers, and musicians parading around the Duomo.

This procession leaves from Palazzo Vecchio after a cross is delivered to the mayor around 9:00 am, in which th mayor and authorities go to the bapistery to symbolically bring the gift of candles to the patron saint, San Giovanni.

Traditionally, this is the day in which the final match of Calcio Storico is played, however due to municipal elections, the match was moved to June 15th.

If you have not read our article on Calcio Storico yet, Calcio Storico is a combination of rugby and mixed martial arts. Whether that means boxing or wrestling, it is all allowed to restrain the opponents from stopping your team from running the ball to the end of the field to score a point. This sport originated from Florence and is only played in Florence.

In addition to this very popular local florentine sporting event, there is another that is participated in, in celebration of San Giovanni usually a couple days before June 24. A rowing marathon competition between the four historical districts of Florence occurs along the Arno river during the night, known as La Notturna.

This long day of celebrations comes to a close with an explosive fireworks display along the Arno River starting at 10 and ending around 11 PM from Piazzale Michaelangelo.

Wanna join? It's an amazing Tour!