Tuscan school leavers propitiatory ritualsLocal Traditions
Tuscan school leavers propitiatory rituals
Even if you left school a long time ago we are convinced that every so often the nightmare of exams peeps in your nights. It is one of those moments when, perhaps for the first time in our lives, we go through a heavy amount of anxiety and stress. Precisely to relieve this fear, the rites and celebrations of the '100 days to exams’ have caught on with students: partly to have some fun before the 'final rush' and the period of 'forced seclusion' with pizza evenings, picnics and short trips, partly to implement a series of superstitious rituals. As you know, we Tuscans like to celebrate big and our students have as many as three options at their disposal! Options of which, naturally, school-leavers from all over Italy can take advantage!
The most classic is the 'Rite of the Lizard' according to which the school-leaver, in order to get a good grade, must go to Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa and 'pet' the bronze lizard that sits in the doorway of the Cathedral in front of the Baptistery. This has happened so many times that it has lost its colour and, much to the disappointment of the students, every few years it is blocked off with fences. If this happened to be the case, do not worry, one hundred laps around the 'leaning tower' will have the same effect!
Moving a few kilometres away and precisely to the Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero in Livorno, we will switch to a much more 'sacred' ritual, albeit very complex and physically demanding: first you have to climb the steps to the sanctuary on your knees, then, in the square in front of the church, you must jump as many times as the grade you want to achieve, you have to flip a coin above the arch of the structure and finally light the classic church candle!
Definitely more romantic and less strenuous is the 'Rite of Bagnasciuga’ thanks to which Viareggio has become one of the most popular destinations in all Tuscany: you have to write the grade you want to obtain on the shore and if it is not rubbed out completely by the sea, you will get 10 marks less than you wrote. Unless you aspire to reach the coveted grade of 100, just aim high and you are done!
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