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To celebrate the beginning of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s work in the Sistine Chapel begun 500 years ago this May, the elaborate firework display designed by Michelangelo, the so-called Girandola, will be re-enacted on 24 May at Castel S. Angelo.

The Girandola, which Michelangelo designed for Pope Julius II, was then recreated each year for Easter and on 29 June for the day of Saints Peter and Paul. It also took place each time a new pope was elected. Its fame spread through Europe and many famous artists and writers represented it or wrote about it in their work including the influential 18th-century etcher Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the 19th-century English author Charles Dickens, and the popular 19th-century Roman poet Giocchino Belli.

Fireworks at Castel S. Angelo began in 1481 to celebrate the pontificate of Sixtus IV. The novelty that Michelangelo introduced with his Girandola was the emphasis on colours, instead of on the noise of the bangs, as well as his creative design of their sequence.

The Girandola remained an important event in Rome until 1834 when it abruptly ended. Now it is being sponsored by the city of Rome and thanks to a meticulous study of the archives, Giuseppe Passeri from the IX Invicta company that specialises in historical firework displays, it will be possible to see the spectacle that was once the pride for all Romans.

The Girandola will begin at 22.30. The best viewing position will be along the Tiber river near Castel S. Angelo while the area directly around it will not be accessible.

News item: May 2008

Source: Wanted In Rome

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