If you have had the chance to visit Pisa by night on the 16th of June you should recall a very different city than any other day of the year, it is in fact the Luminara of San Ranieri, which transforms Lungarni buildings into a light show, giving life to a one of a kind performance. It is estimated that every year around 100,000 “lampanini”, candles, are placed on wooden frames, called “linen”, to form artistic decorations on walls and buildings along the river. The festival in honour of Saint Ranieri, patron of the city, attracts many tourists every year. The night ends with the traditional fireworks shot from Solferino bridge. The next day, in the same waters where the lamps were reflected, is held the “Regatta di San Ranieri”, a characteristic regatta whose boats are inspired by the most famous frigate of the Order of the Knights of Santo Stefano. The stake ends on a barge on which the flag is placed, namely, the stake, and members of the four districts challenge each other, they climb on top of the stake, and the consolation prize for those who lost is an eloquent pair of ducks.
A bit of history:
In 1688, Cosimo III de Medici decided to replace the old and inadequate urn containing the relic of the saint Ranieri degli Scaccieri, with a richer and dignitous urn. The party that followed was so brilliant that the city decided to replicate the event every three years. Initially the lighting was a bit different from today’s, made in oil with terracotta lamp, glazed and placed on the balconies of homes. Later that tradition evolved and, with the advent of the seventeenth century, the lampstones were placed following the architectural lines of the buildings, following the style of that time. Moving from a swirling Liberty and a harmonious neoclassisism, it was back to preserve the original lines of the structures in modern times. The festival has always followed the history of the city closely, so it was suspended during the World War II and the catastrophic flood of 1966, during which the Solferino Bridge and Lungarni (the traditional places where the Luminara is located) were distroyed.
This centenary celebration has become one of the many symbols of the city, a source of inspiration for international events such as “Artistic Lights”, perhaps more famous but not as much as the Luminara. If you’re coming next June 16, make sure to come and visit, we promise you won’t regret it.