The Festa di San Giovanni happens every year on June 24th. San Giovanni (Saint John the Baptist) is the patron saint of Florence. The Baptistery is named after him, and this day is made to honor his patronage. There are special masses, parades, the final game of Calcio Storico, and the day ends with an incredible fireworks display.
We watched again this year from Ponte Santa Trinita. If you want to actually be in a position to take photos, you have to arrive around 8 p.m. The crowds become enormous once the show begins, and it lasts for at least ½ hour. The fireworks are an amazing display of colors in the summer night over the Ponte Vecchio. Incredible!
The archeological site in Fiesole includes a Roman amphitheater, spa, temple and a museum. It costs 10 euro to enter and the hours fluctuate according to the season. Check their website here for hours of operation. This Fall it was a wonderful place to walk around and visit. They have done a great job with the path around the outside area as well as the museum, which is small but interesting.
The Etruscan ruins were discovered in the late 1800’s and are thought to have been built from the 4th to the 2nd centuries B.C. There are incredibly lovely views from the hillside and there is a nice bar on the premises. Fiesole is a nice morning or afternoon trip from Florence and easy to get to on bus number 7 from San Marco. Check my other blog entries on Fiesole to see what other attractions you can find there.
While visiting Fiesole some time ago, I ran across this sweet sculpture of the Madonna and Child located in a small courtyard between the church at the top of the hill called San Francesco. It is easy to miss the little jewel of a museum and in particular this sculpture. Go into the church and approach the altar. You will see a door to the left. Go into the door and follow your way into the courtyard. The sculpture is located in a small niche to the left side of the door on the right as you enter the courtyard.
I saw the sculpture and thought it was sweet and when I approached and saw the little sign indicating it was done by Margot Einstein, daughter of Albert Einstein, I was blown away. I go back occasionally to see it.
My curiosity of course was peaked about Margot and her time in Fiesole. I have not been able to discover anything about that time. There is little about her on the internet. I discovered that she was actually the step daughter of Albert Einstein, born from the first marriage of Albert’s second wife, Elsa. Elsa had been born an Einstein and was a cousin of Albert. She originally married Max Lowenthall in 1896 and had 3 children, Ilse and Margot and a son who died at birth. She divorced Max and married Albert, her cousin in 1919. They did not have any children together. Albert and Elsa were first cousins, since their Mothers were sisters and their Fathers were brothers as well. Margot and Ilse changed their name to Einstein and Albert raised them as his own.
Margot was born in 1899, so was already 20 when Albert and her mother were married. There is no date on the sculpture and no information at all regarding her career as a sculpture Margot died in July of 1986 at the age of 86 at her home in Princeton, NJ which she had shared with her stepfather Albert for many years. She had at one time married one of Albert’s research assistant and the marriage lasted 7 years before they divorced. After the divorce she resumed her stepfather’s name.
She studied sculpture at Columbia University and became an American citizen in 1940 along with her father, Albert. They were of German descent. An interesting, but very private woman, I could find only one or 2 other photos of her sculptures which seem to be privately owned.