The Ride of the Wise Men – La Cavalcata dei Magi
For the first time in many years I was here for the ‘Befania’, for most italians, especially the children this is almost as important as Christmas, and it was orginially at this time when children were left gifts by the fireplace, not by father Christmas but the ‘befana’… a which. However the day really celebrates the long journey of the Three Wise Men and Kings from the East are said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts, finally arriving in Bethlehem on January 6. To commomerate this important event a wonderfully colourful and rich parade takes place from the Piazza Pitti in the heart of Florence which winds throught the narrow streets and alleys of Florence, crossing the Ponte Vecchio, and weaving into Piazza della Signoria, along Via Calzaiuoli to arrive at the Duomo where the wise men present their gifts to Baby Jesus who lies in the navity scene in the square of S. Maria del Fiore. The Florentines are dressed in traditional costumes, the shepards, fruit & vegetable sellers, the good, bad and ugly, accompanied by the contradas proudly follow the star to the bapistry to honor baby Jesus.
Happy New Year!