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Shooting Stars and the Tears of San Lorenzo

La Notte di San Lorenzo [the night of Saint Lawrence], the 10th of August each year, is traditionally the night, in Italy, that you gaze up into the summer night sky in the hope of viewing shooting stars. It’s a great moment to wander away from the beach and the beachfront lights, to head inland where the meteor showers will be easier to spot.

The tears of Saint Lawrence - the Perseids

What are the tears of San Lorenzo?

Le lacrime di San Lorenzo are technically the Perseids the meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which occur annually throughout the summer from mid July, with the greatest activity starting from the 8th of August through to the 14th.

Knowledge of the meteor shower dates back as far as 36 A.D when Chinese Annals recorded them. In the 1860s the link between the meteor shower and the Swift-Tuttle comet was discovered by the Italian astronomer < href="" target="_blank">Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli in 1866. In local traditions, though, where in places like Emilia-Romagna people were well aware of the annual shooting star displays, the meteor shower was attributed to Saint Lawrence, whose feast day falls on the 10th of August.

Who was Saint Lawrence?

Tradition and folklore have associated the shooting stars with San Lorenzo (St.Lawrence), a Spanish Saint martyred during the reign of the Emporor Valerian. His feast day is the 10th of August. The early Christian martyr, patron saint of comedians (thanks to his quip whilst being tortured on a gridiron ‘turn me over, this side is done’), is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic world, and devotion to him was widespread from the fourth century onwards.

For the Dan Brown fans out there, lore suggests that St. Lawrence, as one of the first deacons of Rome, managed to spirit away the Holy Grail to Huesca in Spain where it lay hidden for centuries.

Tips for Enjoying the Perseids and Notte di San Lorenzo in Rimini

The first tip is to be ready from about the 6th to the 14th of August to choose the most cloudless night in which to observe the shooting stars. Then, by car or bus, strike out into the Rimini hinterland – as close by as the hills of Covignano, or further inland to the many charming towns of the Val Marecchia. Your best bet is to choose one of those small towns that dot the countryside around Rimini, enjoy a good meal, and then head out to the countryside away from town centres. The darker it is the better. When you’ve found a good spot, lie back and look up at the sky and wait. It may take a while, but once you’re accustomed to it you’ll start seeing plenty of shooting stars – a wonderful and magical experience.

Calici di Stelle – getting in the mood!

One brilliant way to enjoy the Persieds is to take part in the annual Calici di Stelle festival – held in different areas up and down Italy, organised by the Movimento Tourismo del Vino (MTV :)). Local wine growers set up events where you can go to the vineyards and taste wines, then walk out amongst the vineyards to see the stars. Some towns like Santarcangelo di Romagna and Verucchio set up specific festivals in the town centre. Check the Movimento Tourismo del Vino’s website for more details, or our event guide.

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