St. John the Baptist = Patron Saint of Florence & One Awesome Guy


St. John the Baptist.
 
What a guy. Am I right?

Sculpture of St. John by Francesco Rustici from the Baptistery in Florence

I don’t think I need to get into it (I mean J to the B was baptizing people, living in the woods, eating berries and bark, and wearing his camel skin cloak way before hipsters were doing it.) Check out his full saintly story here.
 
For our purposes, we are really interested in the relationship between St. John the Baptist and Florence. Saint John is Florence’s patron saint. This essentially means he protects Florence and acts as a middleman between the citizens of Florence and God. Truth be told, he is the patron saint of several other locations, including Turin, Genoa and Malta, and even some groups like the Knights Hospitaller. (Yeah. He’s a pretty popular guy, so have some respect).
 
So why did the Florentines choose him? Continue reading…

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Florence on fire?! Nope. It’s just Easter.

It’s almost Easter! Hands down my favorite holiday after Christmas. I mean, some huge bunny hides chocolate for me? Who comes up with this stuff? AMAZING. So, in honor of this holiday I thought I would write a little something about Easter in Italy, which is really quite different.

There is chocolate, yes. It does come in an egg form, of course.
But, there is something so much better in addition. There is a 500 hundred year-old cart…ON FIRE!!!!
Read on.

EXPLODING CART!!!

Easter, according to the bible, is the day on which Christ rose from the dead, otherwise known as his Resurrection. If this is at all foggy to you (it can be so confusing!), let’s review. Christ is captured and sentenced to death. He is crucified on what is called Good Friday. He is then buried and is, for all intents and purposes, dead for three days. On the third day, the Sunday morning after Good Friday, he is resurrected.

The Jewish holiday of Passover falls at the same time as Easter, as they are symbolically linked through the bible. Jesus was eating Passover dinner – also known as the Last Supper- with the apostles, right before he was captured.

Now, what hidden chocolate eggs and huge bunnies have to do with the above-described biblical events is anybody’s guess. Whereas, lighting a huge antique cart on fire using a flaming dove as the spark and enjoying the ensuing fireworks display makes COMPLETE sense in light of the events surrounding a holiday celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. Am I right? You think I’m kidding? Here is what our friends at Wiki say:
“In Florence, Italy, the unique custom of the Scoppio del Carro is observed in which a holy fire lit from stone shards from the Holy Sepulchre are used to light a fire during the singing of the Gloria of the Easter Sunday mass, which is used to ignite a rocket in the form of a dove, representing peace and the holy spirit, which following a wire in turn lights a cart containing pyrotechnics in the small square before the Cathedral.”
(Don’t believe me? Check here.)
Ok ok. Sheesh. We’ll explain! Continue reading…

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The Other Side of Rome

Been to Rome before? Seen this, done that? Well…maybe you have and maybe you haven’t. Here are some of my favorite off-the-beaten-path things to see/do that are not always an easy walk down one of Rome’s breathtaking cobble-stone streets. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth every ounce of effort to see. Maybe you need to go back. Hopefully, it will be with Select Study Abroad. Continue reading…

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