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Those who have been lucky enough to visit Florence cannot but have realized its uniqueness. Florence is absolutely inimitable: its streets, its architecture, its works of art and above all its incredible history make it the epitome of the city of art in Italy. Those who have lived there will tell you about the strong personality of its inhabitants and the pride they take in having been born in this city.
Any time of the year is suitable to visit Florence, but we are going to propose a particular and unexpected date: New Year’s Day. Florence New Year’s Day, though! Of course Florence celebrates New Year's Eve on December 31st, as does the rest of Italy, but Florence’s traditional New Year’s Day is on March 25th.
From the Middle Ages until 1749, in fact – when the Gregorian calendar was adopted - the city of Florence celebrated New Year on the day when the Archangel Gabriel made his Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, exactly nine months before Christ was born. A long-standing tradition that has little in common with the celebrations of the modern New Year’s Eve.
Therefore, you had better forget your elegant holiday attire and your midnight toast: Florence New Year celebrations consist mainly of a big parade that, after going through all the city, ends at the Basilica of the Annunciation, dating back to the thirteenth century and heart of this ceremony.
Do not be late to the 14.30 appointment at Palagio di Parte Guelfa (Guelph Palace), a medioeval palace wherefrom the parade starts. Get ready to stroll around the center of Florence, discovering its historical sites and its remotest corners, accompanied by the characteristic parade in medioeval costumes. Then cross Via Porta Rossa, Piazza della Repubblica, Via degli Speziali, Piazza del Duomo, Via dei Servi and give in to the temptation to taste a few brigidini (typical wafer thin cookies) and almond brittles, always present on the market stalls, and then pay homage to the effigy of the Holy Annunciation, that is inside the basilica.
The tradition requires that a wreath of white lilies be placed before the fresco depicting the Annunciation. Florence inhabitants are very fond of this portrait, which is considered a miraculous one.
According to the legend, the artist who had been entrusted with the work – a certain Maso di Bartolomeo -could not paint the face of the Virgin Mary, and an angel came to his aid, so he could complete the portrait.
After the religious ceremony, the celebrations continue with other events scattered throughout the city, exhibitions and charity concerts entertain the Florentines and the many tourists alike, until evening, showing us how the past can merge with the present, all while surprising and entertaining us.