July 26 marks the celebration of the Festival of Saint Anna, mother of the Virgin Mary and protector of Florence’s liberty and identity.
The celebration begins with a historic procession at the Piazza di Parte Guelfa at 8:45 p.m. with 100 participants dressed in costume, which proceeds to Piazza della Signoria and then on to Piazza Duomo. The procession ends at Orsanmichele, where traditional offerings and candles are made at Saint Anna’s altar.
The history of the annual festival dates back to the early fourteenth century when, on July 26 1343, the Florentine people rebelled against the foreign tyrant Gualtieri di Brienne, the Duke of Athens. The expulsion of the Duke marked the re-establishment of civil freedom and liberty for the Florentine people, and citizens joined together to celebrate the event each year until the Medici family took power in the late fourteenth century.
Saint Anna was seen as the inspirational guide of the battle for freedom from the Duke of Athens, which is why the festival is named after her. In 1999 the Comune of Florence decided to reinstate the festival, and today, it is a colorful reminder of a historic moment in Florence’s past and Saint Anna as the city’s protectress.
Piazza di Parte Guelfa