Happy Feast of San Lorenzo day! August 10 is when Florence pays homage to the Saint named Lorenzo. The festivities center around the Medici parish church of San Lorenzo and the adjoining piazza. Also known as Cocomerata, which means watermelon, this fruit of summer is eaten “under the stars” of St. Lawrence.
The Feast of San Lorenzo is an annual event deeply rooted in the city’s tradition. In the past, in fact, the “San Lorenzo Bakers Company” used to give holy bread – and watermelon in the evening – to everyone for free.
Today, this ancient tradition is still celebrated by giving lasagna and watermelon to everyone, both local residents and tourists alike, after a historical parade winds its way through the streets of the historical center. A band will play in the piazza tonight.
in medieval times, the public was treated to pieces of grilled steak and watermelon. Today it will lasagna and watermelon.
The Feast of Saint Lawrence and the free watermelon under the stars take advantage as well of this time of year, when shooting stars are more likely to be seen. They make wishes, and as the Perseid meteor shower crisscrosses the Italian sky.
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La Notte di San Lorenzo, as it is known in Italy today, is a celebration dating back to Roman and Etruscan times, if not earlier. Catholics marked this day in remembrance of the martyr, believing the falling stars represent the tears of the saint and the embers of the fire that burned him, thus originating a saying “San Lorenzo dei martiri innocenti, casca dal ciel carboni ardenti” (Saint Lawrence of innocent martyrs, hot embers fall from the sky).
This shower of stars is caused by the particles of the Swift-Tuttle comet entering our atmosphere on the Earth’s annual orbit through its path, nevertheless, Italians don’t let science spoil this magical night. Millions still flock as far as necessary to have enough darkness to gaze at the sky. And under their breath utter “Stella, mia bella Stella, desidero che…” every time a falling star sparks across the sky, making a wish.