Monday, June 15, 2009

Santo Spirito


Before the whole family came over to Firenze, Doug came over for work and to find a place for us to live. Before he left we talked:

"I don't want to be way out in the boonies. No more than a twenty minute walk to a shop and ten minutes to a park. You hear? Ila and I will need some interaction with people."

Alright maybe I talked and he was patient. I think I was a little freaked out and maybe not trusting enough in Doug's ability to see what was reasonable.

Funnily, since we arrived in Firenze there have been times when I desperately wanted to be further out of town, even up by the observatory, which would break all those conditions. Certainly, if we were to come back again I'd be up for it. I know the bus system now. Having a door out onto a little green or even a little patio that Ila could just run out on to would be sweet, but then we'd never looked out onto this street and never seen these things...

1. Calcio Storico Fiorentino- Bianchi
Calcio Storico -Bianchi

We're walking toward our apartment, in front of us a bunch of men who look like a mix of soccer and rugby players. I know it isn't a soccer team, but it wasn't quite a rugby team either. (Yes, too many years spent around rugby players. I can spot them a mile off.) but they're all wearing the same emblem either on their skin or a shirt. They stop and start to put up a ladder, hoist a young boy in medieval garb to the top and proceed to prevent any traffic passing down the street. We get out of the way. It turns out it was a photo shoot of the neighbourhood team of a nice and bloody, violent traditional football game. Just the sort of thing I'd turn my nose up as a rule, but then this is Florence/Firenze and I get over myself for a few minutes to find out a little more.

The game has been around for 500 years. There are four teams in town, our neighbourhood has one, il Bianchi. It used to be the rich dudes, it still is neighbourhood guys. The games are played in June with a big ol' final in the Piazza di Santa Croce and a parade to begin with. It is apparently one of THE things to see in Florence if you're here. Which we won't be when it actually happens. Oh, and they play in medieval flavored pants and often bare chests! It fulfills all those stupid bad boy issues I had when I was younger and much more foolish. They get to head butt each other. And I thought Aussie Rules and Gaelic Football was rough. For more information check this out

Then if that wasn't a nice little neighbourhood oddity to find out about there was that evening.

2. After 11pm, the Santo Spirito bells are going nuts, but we figure someone just dipped a little too much into the communion wine. We're all cuddled up on the sofa watching an old episode of Chuck (we've just discovered Chuck) when we hear this incredible singing. Mass numbers of beautiful female voices coming from the street outside. So we rush to the one window that actually looks out on to the street and see this...

Actually we saw a lot more, but I didn't think about the video until several minutes in. You only hear the singing for a few seconds, but it went on for a long time and was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. There were nuns and priests and what looked liked monks, with a few ordinary folk to boot. I've no idea what it was. Any ideas?

This is an experience that would have eluded us if we had been out of town and it really is incredible.

I'm saving the best until last, the toddler picture. Those cherries at the top? Those were up at the hotel my mum & step dad were staying out this weekend, outside the city walls. This, having foraged for them, eating them? My girl. What a great Sunday.

Ila and Cherries


  1. I love this stuff! Nothing like a little local color. Which reminds me (just in time) to remind you to look out for June 24 (I am pretty sure that's the date). It's the saint day of San Giovanni, patron saint of Firenze. Expect nothing to be running that day. I was caught on a train back from Viareggio that day, a trip that should have taken 90 mins and became 8 hrs because of an impromptu holiday "strike." I was rewarded on the (looooooong, because ATAF buses weren't running either) walk back from the station - all along the Arno there were vendors selling all kinds of sweets, and there were fireworks, and it was all pretty magical!


  2. Thats the day we're out of Firenze for Amalfi. Bummed that we'll miss the fireworks though.

  3. Ah well, sounds like you're catching some pretty great serendipitous local stuff all the same. I just hope you're not traveling in or out of Florence that day. Amalfi! Can't wait for the pics.


  4. The street singing must have been wonderful. Really lifts you up. A bit like Gill and I found come back to the hotel from having a meal with you. This beautiful singing coming out of a church + live music. It drew us in for at least 30 minutes and again we could not quite work out why and what it was about.