'La Festa del Grillo' (Ascension Day), Parco delle Cascine, Florence
A Festival celebrating the arrival of the spring
The Festa del Grillo is one of the most famous folkloristic manifestations in Florence. It is celebrated every year on Ascension Day in the Parco delle Cascine. Its origins have been lost in the course of time but it seems there are essentially two schools of thought as regards the name. The first, more pacifically, upholds the consideration that the cricket took upon itself to be the symbol of the arrival of spring and as such, the Festa was in its honour. The second idea sustains that the cricket was a harmful insect for the countryside and as such the highest number possible had to be eliminated. In this sense, the Festa was precisely for this, to diminish the numbers.
More recently parents celebrated the Festa del Grillo by purchasing for their children little cages in which to put crickets found in the Park. In 1999 the Commune of Florence passed a law regarding regulation of the protection of animals, thus prohibiting the sale of crickets and as such, in the cages the insects are substituted with small electronic models. For this reason sadly the Festa has lost all its charm, becoming just another day with stalls and stands like any other. Near Florence (actually nearer Prato) on the Calvana, there is a mount called Cantagrilli where the last dealers in crickets would go to stock up, before the sale of crickets was forbidden.