On September 7 the Rificolone – colourful, funny-looking paper lanterns illuminated by candles – are lit for a procession through the streets that ends up, as always, in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. The origins of this festival date back centuries, when an important market fair used be held in the piazza for the Festa della Madonna on September 8.
Over time, the lanterns have become objects for display in their own right. A competition is now held for the most original one and workshops are run in the week before the festival, during which children can make their own rificolona. The workshops kick off on the 3rd of September and are run by the Florence's five Districts.
The main procession runs for 11 kilometres throughout the city and is on the evening of September 7. The Rificolona starts at the Basilica of Impruneta at 4pm and ends in Piazza Santissima Annunziata on 9:45pm, passing through Santa Felicita, piazza Signoria and, 9:15pm in piazza Duomo. The traditional Rificolona blessing will be held in Piazza SS Annunziata as will the awards ceremony for the Graziano Grazzini Prize, for the best handmade rificolona.
On the same evening, Florence's Geographical Military Institute will be open from 7pm to midnight; the Institute will offer free guided visits and the gardens of Archeological Museum will also be open. A party for kids will be held in Piazza Ghiberti; and on September 8, the annual Rificolona sull'Arno event, which features lantern-lit boats rides with the Canottieri for kids and families along the Arno.