In the period from Calendimaggio – starting the first of May – to the feast of Florence’s patron saint San Giovanni on June 24, a carnival called Carnasciale was celebrated in the city. All Florentines eagerly awaited these months of mingling in the squares and practicing the sport played with a ball of rags known as calcio storico (historic football).
Lorenzo dei Medici, great Renaissance lord that he was, composed his famous songs for the Carnasciale, those featuring parades of allegorical floats carrying ancient gods. But in four of these poems, Lorenzo the Magnificent left the squares to enter the shops: where food was being prepared for the feast.
“Oh women, we are young bakers, / excellent masters of our art”, the townspeople sang. And everyone, men and women alike, participated with undisguised mischievousness, because food became the means to seduce and provoke the other sex who were lured by fresh bread and vegetables from the countryside. Here in Florence, in those carnival days, Lorenzo wore another mask, one that encouraged the unpredictable culture of feasting.