Notte di San Lorenzo (The Night of the Shooting Stars)

Strangely enough for a Catholic country like Italy, Saint Lorenzo himself has nothing to do with the Notte di S. Lorenzo (literally: ‘Night of S. Lorenzo’), an unofficial celebration held all over Italy. The name derives just from the patron saint assigned to the date of the 10th of August, when the skies are usually very clear and the phenomenon of the Perseids meteor shower – also known as ‘falling stars’ in Italian – was most visible.

The past tense is caused by the natural precession of celestial bodies: the peak night for the shower used to be on the 10th when the event was first recorded, but through the centuries it moved further on to the 12th. In any case, the tradition was set, and to this day “going out to watch the shooting stars” is a typical way to spend a lazy summer night.

While there is no “standard” celebration, most places organize some sort of festival on this night. They all involve live music and dances, cooking and very often a firework show. Some of the most original events are:

Bevilacqua (VR) – Star hunting with the astronomers from the Padua planetary
Castel di Lucio (ME) – “Art and Mistery” fine arts contest
Cervia (RA) – Traditionally the largest firework display of them all
Città del vino (a consortium of townships all over the country) – Wine tasting and visits to wineries
Firenze – Historical parade
San Lorenzo Nuovo (VT) – 500-tables strong dumplings festival
Silanus (NU) – Ancient regional traditions and shows