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girandole

1478

July 5

on Friday

The feast of San Giovanni was kept, not having been kept on the actual day, and perambulating shows went about, and there was a procession; the palio(1) was also run, and there were girandole and spiritegli and giganti(2) and many fine things, as if it had been the real day.

(1) The palio was actually the prize for which the races were so called were run, and consisted of a costly piece of drapery of velvet or silk, which was displayed at the winning-post. The famous palio of San Giovanni is mentioned by several historians as having taken place in the thirteenth century; the race was run from the Porta alla Croce to the Porta al Prato; and the prize was originally of scarlet velvet, and later of scarlet silk. (Trans.)

(2) The edifizi (shows mounted on carts) were platforms on wheels, upon which figures were placed, representing scriptural, mythological or other subjects, and sometimes short scenes were enacted. At the present time, on the day of San Giovanni, the band plays in the evening, mounted on a similar platform on wheels. (Trans.) Girandole were platforms covered with rockets and wheels of fire, which took the form of shops, houses, etc. Spiritegli were people on stilts, who admidst the dense crowd appeared to be walking in the air, over the heads of the rest, like spirits. Giganti were men with their feet bound to high stilts, who wore masks and were dressed up to appear like giants; they supported themselves on poles made to resemble walking-sticks (Vasari, Lives of the Painters). (Trans.)

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