TWELFTH NIGHT

THE TWELFTH NIGHT.
Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, is a great holiday. It signifies the baptism of Christ and the coming of the Magi with gifts for the Messiah. The word itself means more or less enlightenment, when a person suddenly learns or understands something. Twelfth day and night are also the end of Christmas Season. In Florence, it is an all-day feast. You may take a leisurely walk across town, past Palazzo Vecchio and the statues gallery, via Ponte Vecchio, where you can gaze at the bust of Benvenuto Cellini and enjoy the many festive window displays with poinsettias and Christmas decorations set amidst the jewelry. You can also look around at the other bridges and the city views on both river banks. Follow the signs to Palazzo Pitti, which used to be one of the palaces belonging to the Medici family. The legend goes that when they accumulated so many treasures they could not maintain the building anymore, they donated it to the city, and the city turned it into a museum. The palace stands above the city; it is huge, with a spacious square in front of it. Crowds of tourists and locals gather there. An hour or so before the great walk begins, the Magi and groups of actors dressed up as the Renaissance figures appear, walking around, mingling, posing obligingly for pictures. Eventually horsemen join the waiting groups. Then the slow procession starts, going all across town to Piazza del Duomo. There are pageants, performances, and intricate ceremonies continuing through the day. The audience snaps pictures and records all the proceedings for their family archives. Children love it all, screaming, “Mama! Papa! Magi!” at the top of their voices. At dusk, the procession slowly moves back, with the spectators following it, clicking every device imaginable. It is all lovely and a lot of fun.
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