Florence Cathedral from Giotto's bell tower — Photo by elleonzebon
View of Florence. The Feast of San Lorenzo is particularly popular in the Tuscan city. Photo by elleonzebon
Want to wish upon a star? Every year, come August 10th, people all over Italy wish for a cloudless sky and, possibly, for a new moon – the perfect conditions to see as many shooting stars as possible. The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower visible each year from mid July, with a peak in activity between August 9th and 12th, which makes August 10th the ideal night for viewing an incredible celestial show. The notte di San Lorenzo, Saint Lawrence’s night, is a beloved Italian summer tradition and everyone, including those who claim not to believe in such folk stories, silently make a wish when they see the first shooting star dashing across the sky. All around Italy towns large and small alike are organizing events to celebrate this magical night, from concerts to fairs. Here’s a list of some of the most popular celebrations across the country:
Notte di San Lorenzo Cervia (EMILIA ROMAGNA): if you are looking for the most spectacular firework display around Italy look no further than beach side Cervia (province of Ravenna). Known for being one of the most fun seaside towns of the Riviera Adriatica, Cervia wants to wow its visitors with a stunning pyrotechnical show. And after the fire works are over, watching the shooting stars from the beach is quite as memorable. 
Festa Patronale di San Lorenzo Pont-Saint-Martin (VAL D’AOSTA): for those who enjoy summer holidays in the mountains, this fair is ideal, as it takes place with the beautiful backdrop of the Aosta Valley. The celebration includes a short marathon, the “Historical district mile run” to work up the right appetite to face the traditional beef roast, a beloved tradition that brings together tourists and locals alike. After dinner everyone’s attention turns their gaze to the sky as the first shooting stars zip over town.
Sagra degli Gnocchi San Lorenzo Nuovo (LAZIO): love gnocchi? Then this gastronomic fair is the right place to celebrate the night of San Lorenzo. The village’s main square is turned into an open air restaurant with more than 500 tables and gnocchi are the main attraction of the night, served with four different and delicious sauces: butter and sage, traditional Genoa pesto, meat sauce and creamy vodka sauce. The perfect way to start a night of stargazing!
Festa Patronale di San Lorenzo a Gatteo (EMILIA ROMAGNA): with the stunningly beautiful backdrop of the courtyard of the Castello Malatestiano, this fair celebrates the town’s patron saint, Saint Lawrence, with live folk music, traditional dances and street performances. Afterwards, the beach is only a few hundred feet away and is the perfect spot to look out for shooting stars while enjoying a drink or a late night piadina with prosciutto and local soft cheese squacquerone.
Festa di San Lorenzo Firenze (TUSCANY): every year Florence celebrates August 10th with a unique party in the downtown district. In the morning a religious celebration in the basilica is followed by a parade that zigzags through the city and ends up back to the Basilica of San Lorenzo, where the mayor offers to the population and visitors a traditional lunch of lasagna followed by a slice of fresh watermelon. 
Notte di San Lorenzo Corsano (APULIA): in the small town of Corsano, province of Lecce, they take meteor showers seriously and celebrate August 10th by inviting a group of astronomers to illustrate to the public this stunning natural phenomenon. They meet up on the verge of a cypress forest, in a dark and quiet place where stargazing can be enjoyed at its best.
A Tavola Sotto le Stelle a Bevilacqua (VENETO): the Castle of Bevilacqua, not far from Verona, invites everyone to go looking for shooting stars along with astronomers from the Padua Planetarium. To make everything even better, before stargazing participants can sit down and enjoy a unique a dinner and live music under the beautiful summer sky.
Calici di Stelle 2016 (VARIOUS LOCATIONS): from August 4 to August 10, many locations across Italy and Istria (Croatia) will celebrate wine, summer and stars with this special event organized by the Movimento Turismo del Vino. Many locations will set up telescopes, thanks to the Unione Astrofili Italiana, so watching stars will be even easier for those who want to learn more about this spectacular natural show. For more information about the various locations and events check out http://www.cittadelvino.it/ 
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