We stopped and ate dinner in a restaurant near the Palazzo Vecchio on our way home from the Boboli Gardens, then walked home to our piazza. As we entered the piazza we could see a marching band in uniform assembled with their instruments in front of the Basilica of the Santissimo Annunziata. We only had to wait five minutes when they began to play and march in the direction of the Duomo.
Immediately behind, all in their religious robes and vestments, marched a procession of people emerging from the door of the basilica. I don’t know the roles of the different groups in the procession, so I cannot describe them here, but some appeared from their dress to be quite important, and some carried banners. In the midst of the procession an icon of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by banners and flowers, was carried. Lay parishioners brought up the tail of the procession as the march continued down the street towards the Santa Maria Cathedral.
I don’t know if this was a special occasion on the holy calendar or if this was something that happens every Saturday evening, but it certainly was interesting to watch. We’ve seen so much evidence of the influence the church has had over time on people’s lives in Europe, and this just added a little more to the story.