The piazza was invented for warm summer evenings, sipping a drink, crossing ones ankles and admiring the strollers-by. Piazza Santo Spirito is one of Florences finest for these purposes, with its lush trees, the majestic curls of Brunelleschis 15th-century church faade, and its Oltrarno location. The Santo Spirito/San Frediano neighborhood has a down-to-earth, hearty Florentine attitude flavoured with old-school yet progressive creativity. It became the heart of the other Florence a few years ago, but Santo Spiritos rightful grit has started to degenerate into grime and its languid beauty started to be marred by unsavory tinges, as drug dealers have settled into the area.
Last year, Piero Iervolino and Jacopo DAlbasio of the association PiazzArt launched Easy Living, a summer-long, much-encompassing event in Santo Spirito to counter this trend. Piero explains, I love this neighborhood and I love this piazza. We wanted to do something to give Santo Spirito back to the neighborhood and reflect its spirit.
Back for its second year, Easy Living in Santo Spirito hosts events every evening from May 26 to September 10. Organized by PiazzArt and Quartiere 1 of the city government, it mingles a low-key mix of music, theatre, art, literature, design and beer. Evening events include Musica al Tramonto [Music at Sunset] with young Florentine musicians playing relaxed, fresh summer music like jazz, swing, flamenco and Cuban sounds. They play quietly enough to not disturb the piazza neighbors and end their jam sessions at 11 pm. Every Sunday evening, there will be a DJ set to give weekend beach-goers a chance to shake off the sand and continue their idyll. Other events on the roster (to be posted on www.piazzart.com (in Italian) and available in the piazza at the info booth) include theatre events, dance performances and readings. In the special events category: during the World Cup, matches will be broadcast on a jumbo screen; and on June 21, as part of the Maggio Musicale music festival, a classical music concert will be held in the piazza.
Up with (and ahead of) the times, the entire zone will have free wireless Internet access all summer, and the association Anelli Mancanti (www.anellimancanti.it) has set up a renegade short-range television broadcast about the neighborhood. A literature area will have art and design magazines and host readings. An information booth near the bar will dispense information on the neighborhood at large.
True to Santo Spiritos grassroots, Alternative Soul, the temporary bar by the stage was designed by Space Studio following the tenents of green building, with low energy consumption and made of recycled materials. At apertivo hour (about 7pm to 9pm), a buffet is offered at the bar Pop Art on the piazza. Otherwise, gelato and sandwiches can be bought nearby for a well-rounded summer meal.
The opening night on Friday, May 26 was a grand success. The faces of the large relaxed crowd enjoying the music showed plain joy at the onset of summer, at last, and happy visions of months to come filled with such evenings in their city. The feeling was fluid as people milled between the bars, the church steps and the central fountain, seating by the stage and curbs.
The buzz of happenings and creativity stirred up, is pulled off with a sense of jazz-like ease and action, perfect for the season. Of course, that ease is an illusion, as the event is the result of hard work by the organizers, community members, artists, local retailers and workers. The idea driving the PiazzArt association is that the Oltrarno community can reclaim its spaces by coming together in its shared interests.
A few nights into Easy Living, Piero, one of the exhausted organizers, was able to look with satisfaction at the vibrant Santo Spirito summer underway and say that it was all worth it, as this was just what they wanted.
The reclaiming of Santo Spirito can claim success.
For more information:
About Easy Living:
www.piazzart.com (in Italian)
About the Oltrarno neighborhood: