Every year, the evening of June 16, the Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa light up the Lungarno and the heart of the city. This day, the eve of the Patron Saint festivity, San Ranieri, the town of Pisa wears its best glittering dress made of thousands of wax candles.
The Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa is considered one of the main events of the summer of the city and of the entire region. Whenever I can, I do not miss the opportunity to participate because that evening the atmosphere in Pisa is wonderful and the skyline is unique. I am pretty sure that it will leave you breathless.
What is the Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa?
The city switches off all electric lights. Only the light of the candles illuminates the darkness. Imagine going back to an age where there was no electricity when a lamplighter lit streetlights every evening and lamps illuminated the rooms of the houses.
Qualified workers build white wooden frameworks, called “Biancheria”, on the facades of all historical buildings, churches, towers, and bridges along the Arno River. Frameworks are necessary to place more than hundred thousand glasses with wax candles inside, that will be light after the sunset. Almost the same number of lamps will float on the water of the river creating an enchanting game of lights and reflections.
Instead, old style oil lamps decorate the famous Square of Miracles, UNESCO World Heritage Site for Tuscany since 1987. They are placed around the Duomo, the Baptistery and up on the seven floors of the leaning tower.
The program of the Luminara
Along the alleys of the historical center and the Lungarno, dozens of stands of handicraft, food trucks sell local delicacies, burgers, cakes and candies for adults and children.
Every year, the Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa attracts thousands of locals and tourists. They come to enjoy this extraordinary event and to admire the amazing fireworks made from the “Cittadella”, a fortress of 1400 along the banks of the river. They are usually scheduled at around 11.30 pm to end in style the night.
Visitors can even vote for the building they liked the most for its light games.
The Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa comes before the historical Regatta that takes place the 17 June, the Patron Saint day. Four ships representing the four ancient suburbs of the city face themselves in a boat race along the Arno River, competing for the Palio, the prize of the victory.
San Ranieri in time lapse
Helpful tips to enjoy the Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa
Cover Photo Credits: Francesco
- Usually, there are no night trains. However, for the occasion, there will be a special train from Pisa Central Station to Firenze SMN (with stops in Cascina, Pontedera, Empoli, and Firenze Rifredi) at 1.15 am. If you come from the coast or other areas not covered by the special train, we advise you to reach Pisa by car. Unless you do wish to spend the entire night in town so you can take one of the first trains in the morning.
- If you go by car, arrive early in the afternoon to easily find the car park.
- Usually, the Lungarni are open to cars but this day they will be off limits. So we suggest you park out of the historical center and reach the banks of the river by walk or get the shuttle service that runs from 7.30 pm to 2.00 am.
- If you have kids, buy them some candies or balloon. But be aware and hold their hand all the time because the place will be dark and crowded. We advise against the use of the stroller.
- Enjoy some local delicacies from the street food trucks. Then look for a good spot close to the Cittadella to admire the fireworks. Once you find it, relax and immerse yourself in the dark atmosphere of the Luminara.
- End your day with a visit to the Square of Miracles under the moonlight. When most of the people already left the city, it is great to admire its beauty in silence and out of the crowd.