Saturday was the traditional wine harvest ceremony in Florence and I watched the preparations at the Duomo. Two white cows were unloaded, washed and decorated with red tassels. Then a cart carrying a pyramid of about 1500 bottles of wine was, very carefully, eased off of the back of a truck and hooked up to the cows.
The wine was in the traditional pear-shaped bottles wrapped in raffia, and raffia strips had been woven between them to hold them all together. This cart is called the “Carro Matto” which translates into “Crazy Cart”. I have to agree that it doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do: stack up 1500 bottles of wine into a narrow pyramid and hook them up to a couple of cows, but it is tradition.
This ceremony has been taking place since the middle ages, when the people of Rufina, a small wine producing town outside of Florence, were compelled to bring their first harvest to the rulers of Florence. The wine is blessed at the Cathedral then there is a parade through the city with music, costumes, and flag throwing. When it reaches Piazza della Signoria there is a toast to the health of the people of Florence. I don’t know if the people of Florence get to drink the wine or not, because we were hungry and went off to dinner.
Today when I passed through Piazza della Repubblica about 12.30 I saw this man sitting in the air. When I passed back by about 4.30 he was still there. There were many people gathered around, and I watched for a while as well, to try and figure out what was going on. I heard people asking how he could do that and there were a few interesting ideas.
One boy thought he was using magnetic plates. Another one came up with an idea that made more sense. He thought that he was sitting on a suspended chair: that the base was covered by the orange cloth on the ground and the stick had a bar attached that went through his sleeve to which a seat was attached.
I think that is probably correct, but it was quite impressive to see anyway. And, if you put money in his little pot, he would give you a piece of paper with a “pearl of wisdom” on it. Mine said, “Great souls have wills; feeble souls have wishes.”
There is always something interesting to see in Florence.
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