San Giovanni is Florence's patron saint. Every year, Florence celebrates the day in a typically Italian fashion — stores close down, restaurants stay open and (for the past 21 years) fireworks appear over the Arno at night. It is to this last thing that I need to address. Be patient.
Fireworks, as I have said before, are one of my favorite things. And in my current life over here, they are exactly what I needed on Saturday night. (Yes, that tension of leaving has me in a sort of cathartic loop.) So off I went, solo, to sit and stand in the persistent heat of night along the Arno awaiting the celebration of my temporary home's patron saint — requisite water, sangria, and cell phone in hand. Luckily I had some intuition to get there early and the mob that showed up later made me feel like a genius on my coveted concrete stoop in front of the pulled-to shutters of an electric store. I was excited.
They shoot the fireworks off from the Piazza de Michelangelo, on the other side of the Arno, towards Santa Croce. I was in perfect viewing range. And so it happened as it always does. Boom and the lights go out along the streets. Children and adults "ooh" "ahh". A drunk yells profanity at the lost trail of a dud. And boom. Another explosion, color, and the glittery remains marking its imprint. Rapid fire towers of light and white against the night. The illuminated fantasy of flowers and trees burning in the negative space; closing your eyes they remain. Percussion going deep, shaking something loose inside you. Purple, gold, Christmas revisited, weeping strands flowing down to the river. I'll say it again; I love fireworks. We all need something firing, exploding, expanding within us that is beautiful, that is light, that is dark.