The don’t miss list Apr 24 to May 5,

Alexandra Korey, Devin Tooma
April 21, 2011

Religious/Easter + Scoppio del Carro

April 24, 11am, Piazza Duomo


Before sitting down for Easter lunch and shattering that chocolate egg, grab your earplugs and watch this odd, loud tradition unfold: an ornate cart carrying a lit candle is pulled through the city by two white oxen, leaving from Porta al Prato and ending at Piazza Duomo. The Archbishop blesses the flame and then the colombina (the fuse, in the shape of a dove) is lit and, in a display of pyrotechnics, 'blows up' the cart.


Sacred Girdle

Easter Sunday and May 1 at 6pm in Prato


The Sacred Girdle (sacra cintola) is one of the most sacred relics in the Catholic tradition. Housed in Prato's Duomo, it is taken out for display or ostensione five times a year: on Christmas, Easter, May 1, August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin) and September 8 (Nativity of the Virgin). The belt of green camel hair is displayed inside a gold and glass reliquary container from the pulpit on the exterior of the cathedral during a special mass, the rest of which takes place inside the Duomo. Prato's bishop holds it up for public view in three directions, three times. This belt is believed to be that passed from the Virgin Mary to Saint Thomas during her ascension to heaven. Although this is a religious service, the display of the relic outside the Duomo is a cultural event worth attending.


Special Events/Festival d'Europa

May 6 to 10, Around Florence


Exciting exhibits, concerts, shows, lectures and conferences celebrating the European Union and pondering its future.

See our feature on page 18 or for more information.


Art/Festival Fabbrica Europa

May 3 to 28, Stazione Leopolda


In conjunction with Festival d'Europa, Fabbrica Europa will highlight the wide variety of contemporary art in Europe today, dedicating entire ‘islands' within the Leopolda to the international artists who are shaking up the ‘contemporary scene' by mixing media and experimenting with new concepts and techniques. Very highly recommended (how often do you get to see cutting-edge contemporary work in this town?). For more information, see


Maggio Musicale/Opening of the 74th Season: Aida

April 28 (show continues May 3, 7, 8, 10 and 12), Teatro Comunale


The heart-wrenching tale of undying love between an Ethiopian princess turned slave and Egyptian military commander, both of whom must choose between their national loyalties and love for each other. A perfectly dramatic way to inaugurate Florence's Maggio season. For more information, see


Fair/Mostra dell'Artigianato

April 30 to May 8, Fortezza da Basso


Need accessories? Look no further: the annual international handicrafts fair that descends upon Fortezza da Basso is back, and every nook and cranny will be full of handmade goods, from pots to pins, rings to rugs, hookahs to hats. It's the year of unity, so the mostra is dedicated to Italian excellence (think coats from Casentino, glass from Murano). For more information, see


Concert/Scott Joplin's Treemonisha

May 20, Salone dei Cinquecento, Palazzo Vecchio, 7:30pm


Although the opera won't premiere in Florence until June 30 at Saschall, the touring cast of Treemonisha will perform a concert featuring excerpts. Treemonisha, a modern opera in three acts by famed African American ‘King of Ragtime,' Scott Joplin, is considered the first opera featuring typical American characters and characteristics. The drama focuses on an African American child found under a tree on a plantation in Arkansas by Ted and his wife, Monisha. A wonderful opportunity to reflect on America's social foundations while enjoying the swaggering and moving sounds of this masterpiece. In English with Italian subtitles, reservations required (call 055/2313240 or email [email protected]). For more information, see


The Florentine events/KnitLounge by BettaKnit at Le Murate

Thursday April 28, 7 to 10pm


Le Murate, on via dell'Agnolo, is the city's new ‘creative space,' and this is one of the first of many events in a series that The Florentine will host in the coming months. Open from noon to midnight daily, Le Murate will offer a rich calendar of talks, activities, performances and more. The Florentine's events are geared for a mix of Italian and English speakers.


Our first event is on Thursday evening, April 28, when some friends of TF will gather for a creative evening out. Called KnitLounge or Maglia e Musica in Italian, the young Pratese company BettaKnit is going to teach us how to knit! We'll be using one of BettaKnits' attractive kits, which contain everything necessary to make a beautiful cotton pillow that you'll be proud to have made all by yourself! The kit (25 euro) is easy enough for beginners but fun for advanced knitters, too. If you already knit, feel free to bring your own project and join us (it's free!). Another option is creating a necklace with BettaKnit's unusual yarn and vintage buttons. To make the evening lively, there's an aperitivo from our sponsor American Salad Co. and relaxing lounge sounds. For more information and to sign up go to, call 055/2306616 or visit


Photography/Gypsy Interiors

Until May 22, Tethys Gallery


The prize-winning photographic collection of Carlo Gianferro, who reveals the inner world of gypsies from Moldavia and Romania in portraits and snapshots of their home interiors: an entire society largely shrouded in myth and secret suddenly exposed in bright photographs that unveil the surprisingly modern lives of this people. For more information, see



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