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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