San Gimignano commemorates the traditional Ferie Messum, a fertility festival that dates back to 1255. In its inception, the whole town would take part in the event where the four "contrade" (neighbourhoods) of the city - San Giovanni, San Matteo, Castello and Piazza - competed in games in honour of fertility with singing, dancing and traditional medieval games such as tug of war, archery and "Giostra dei Bastioni" where knights competed against each other armed with sticks. The hope? To obtain abundant harvests through the season! Today, the event takes place on the third weekend of June beginning on Friday evening and continuing through Saturday and all day Sunday. During this weekend, the town takes a step back in time offering a typical yet fun medieval atmosphere suitable for all the family.
On the night of 16 June, the Luminara begins the festivities to honour Saint Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa with over 70,000 candles lighting up the palaces along the Arno River, then a fireworks display come nightfall. To continue celebrations, the following day, 17 June, four boats representing the most ancient districts of the city compete in the Regatta of Saint Ranieri along the Arno River, in honour of the heritage of Pisa’s past glory as an ancient maritime republic.
On the last Saturday of June, Pisa re-enacts the Battle of the Bridge, a medieval "tug of war" contest that takes place on the central bridge in Pisa. This contest is preceded by a huge procession in colourful costume through the streets of the city. Pisa is well worth a day-trip for their unique festivities or to simply see the famous Leaning Tower any time of year. Speak to our Concierge to arrange transfers to this historic city in Tuscany.
Why not plan ahead and arrange trip to Florence and enjoy the electric atmosphere of Florence's celebrations to St. John the Baptist, the city's patron saint, on 24 June. Observe the traditional street parade complete with bright costumes which begin at the Church of Santa Maria Novella and end at the Church of Santa Croce where the historic calcio storico is played. The square in front of the church is covered to create a medieval football pitch covered in dirt and surrounded with spectator seating.
The game is a combination of soccer, rugby and wrestling – and is taken very seriously with energetic supporters showing their dedication to their teams. Four teams represent the original four neighbourhoods of Florence: Santa Croce (blue), Santo Spirito (white), Santa Maria Novella (red), and San Giovanni (green). This is an incredible event where the men of Florence display their heartfelt pride for their home district with an equally impressive prize for the winning side - a whole Chianina calf!
This month we welcome back Ulrika Westerberg as our June artist.
Classical violinist Ulrika Westerberg always dreamt of being a painter, but remained in the classical music business for thirty years.
The last four years she has switched career by studying art at Swedish Academy of Reallist Art.
Ulrika now lives her dream and works everyday in oil and water colours, painting landscapes, still lifes and portraits. She has recently finished a big commission for a company and has also been contracted as an illustrator. She was our October resident artist in 2013.
For more information about our events please contact our concierge at or call us at 0577 75 1222