Every year, since 1688, on the 16th of June, Pisa changes to celebrate her patron, San Ranieri, the protector of all travelers (Saint Rainerius) and becomes wonderful and magical, walking around town you’ll fell just like in a fairy tale.
The event starts in the late afternoon, all the lamps are switched off and a suffused light is provided by candles, just like tradition wants. Over 100,000 “lumini” (candles) burn along the river; the old and beautiful buildings that face the Arno are all illuminated by them, others are floated on the water, and even Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower itself are lightened by oil lamps. The reflection of the lights on the river is fascinating. Look at the buildings and choose your favorite and by the end of the night go and vote for the best decoration, the winner will receive a valuable handicraft.
Enjoy the sunset while the candles are lightened, walk around the little market stalls, enjoy the extra time in the churches and in the historical buildings, get some sweets from the candy vans (you have to try “Brigidini”, a traditional sweets with anisette), buy a balloon, take an aperitif, follow the bands that play around the streets or just enjoy the music that will drive you around town and dance with strangers. The city is alive and celebrates. Around the streets you’ll find couples enjoying the romantic night out, groups of noisy friends drinking and parting, families running around kids with flashing toys, everybody with a big smile on their face.
Don’t wait to late to go for dinner (I’d suggest to book as well) because at around 11 p.m. the fireshow starts and colors the sky and you really don’t want to miss it. To enjoy it best find a place way in advance on the Lungarni (the river side), as the streets get really crowded and even walking can be difficult.Most people after the fireworks remain in the city until dawn, moving from the riverside to the surrounding squares (the most popular is Piazza dei Cavalieri) to join the street parties and the parties organized by bars and pubs. If you are a night person this for sure is your moment, the streets are filled with music and will be easy to meet people. Just ask around where the best parties are.
This is the best time for me to be in Pisa, my home town. I always try to go back, I’ve attended this event many times, but I just don’t want to miss it. There is something special around during this night and it allows me to see all of my friends doing something different.
Photos from the Facebook Page San Ranieri.