The luminara of Pisa from the Solferino bridge
Luminara di San Ranieri: on the evening of 16 June, Pisa celebrates the vigil of its patron saint, Ranieri Scacceri, with a unique celebration. It all began the day when the body of San Ranieri was transported from the small church of San Vito (Lungarno Simonelli), where he died on 17 June 1161, to the Cathedral. The path was illuminated by hundreds of candles, especially the stretch of Via Santa Maria. The first document that speaks of the Luminara dates back to 1337, but the first official date is 25 March 1688, when, at the behest of Cosimo III de’ Medici, the urn containing the body of the Saint was solemnly placed in the Incoronata Chapel in the Cathedral. Like any sacred event, the citizens responded by posting on their palaces, balconies and windows wooden decorations inside which they placed small candles. These decorations took the name of biancheria (linen), not because of their colour, but for the fact that they were hung out like clothes to dry. The lampanini, the glasses that contain candles, changed from century to century up to the present ones, made of plastic and with a special cap to preserve the flame for hours, introduced in 2000 for safety reasons. The Luminara focuses mainly on the Lungarni, although for some years we have found “biancherie” inside the courtyard of the Sapienza, in via Santa Maria (as originally) and above all we witness the special lighting of the Tower of Pisa. The celebration begins at dusk, even if the lighting of the lampanini begins in the afternoon, and continues until the fireworks display in Lungarno, which takes place around 11.00 pm. The riversides are illuminated by approximately 120,000 lampanini, whose light is reflected in the water of the river, creating a magical atmosphere for one night. Every square and alley of the city is transformed into a real market, as is the tradition of large fairs, and concerts and shows of all kinds are organised.
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