The spectacular Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa

Posted By: About Italy on June, 12 2008 in About Italy, Cultura, History, Pisa (Tuscany)
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The Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa

Again this year the city of Pisa, in the night of the 16th of June, keeps its annual date with the Luminara on the occasion of the feast of its patron Saint Ranieri.

Pisa’s citizens celebrate this day by decorating the streets of the city with a particular lighting, which gives name to the event. More than about seventy-thousand wax candles are put into smooth and transparent glasses and fixed onto wooden white-painted frames, which are placed in order to highlight the shape of palaces, bridges, churches and towers overlooking the banks of the river Arno. Thanks to the Luminara, also the Leaning Tower of Pisa becomes an exceptional scenery because it is enlightened with oil lamps, which are set also on the crenellated city walls of the area encircling Piazza dei Miracoli. Moreover a myriad of candles are left floating in the water of the river Arno. After all candles have been lit, thanks to the reverberation phenomenon of thousand trembling lights on the Arno, the event definitely offers visitors a suggestive and unique feeling.

Luminara is an old Pisan tradition which dates back to the 17th century. On the 25th of March in 1688, the urn containing the body of Ranieri degli Scaccieri was placed inside the chapel of the cathedral of Pisa. He was the patron saint of Pisa and he had died as a saint in 1161. Cosimo III de’ Medici asked that the old urn containing the relic was replaced with a more modern and sumptuous one. The traslation of the urn became the occasion for the celebration of a great feast, from wich, following the tradition, started the annual illumination of Pisa. At first it was simply called “lighting” and then during the nineteenth century it took the name of Luminara ( “illumination” ). The original function of the Luminara was that to light the windows of the houses during parades and processions. Later on in the XVII century it became a free type of enlightened architecture placed on buildings, following the new scenographical fancy of the time. This particular and strange decoration progressively redesigned the outline of the buildings, creating strange and eccentric shapes that transformed the city and especially the banks along the river. However, this illumination still have the function to underline the real structure of the buildings.

The history of the Luminara has always been closely linked to the one of the city of Pisa. It was abolished in 1867, then restored seventy years later on the occasion of the resumption of the folk Gioco del Ponte ( the Game of the Bridge ) and then suspended during the Second World War. In 1952 it was resumed and the tradition lasted until 1966. In November of the same year the violence of the flood of the river Arno caused the collapse of the Solferino bridge and lot of stretches of the banks along the river. The Luminara was then suspended again, and finally revived in June 1969 and lasted out up to the present.

Info: Municipality of Pisa Tel: 050-910506 / 910393

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2 Responses to “The spectacular Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa”

  1. 1

    I´ve been to Pisa once, and it was wonderfull! At that time it was allowed to climb the leaning tower. I´d like to visit Pisa again, i´ve heard that wasn´t allowed to climb the tower for several years, but now it opened again, is this true? After your post i consider to visit pisa during Luminara, didn´t know of this event, so thank you for the information

  2. 2

    Hi ,

    Thanks a lot for the detailed info about the Luminara festival.I am going to visit Pisa this june 2009.Could please tell me when the firecrackers are bust in the sky ? is it on June 16th or 17th ?