Best events in Florence, December 15–21

Our top picks for the week

Mary Gray
December 14, 2016 - 17:02

GARDEN/Open Day at the Four Seasons
December 18, 10am–4pm
Giardino della Gherardesca
Entrances at via Gino Capponi 54, borgo Pinti 97 and piazzale Donatello 12, Florence


Explore the lush Giardino della Gherardesca during the Four Seasons' ninth Open Day. For the past eight years, the luxury hotel has donated Open Day proceeds to the Istituto degli Innocenti, but in the wake of this year's devastating earthquakes, funds for the ninth edition will go toward purchasing a school bus for Cittareale, an affected small town in the province of Rieti. During the day, indulge in mulled wine, hot chocolate, chestnuts and other seasonal treats. Children's entertainment, a Christmas market and Santa Claus sightings (courtesy of the Compagnia di Babbo Natale) are also on the menu. Beloved flag-throwers of the Bandierai degli Uffizi will make their Open Day debut at 2.30pm, and the Gherardesca will host a "gourmet" section with food from top local restaurants: Buca Lapi, Enoteca Pinchiorri, La Giostra, La Tenda Rossa, Borgo San Jacopo, Se.Sto On Arno, Touch Florence and, of course, the Four Seasons' own Il Palagio. Entrance to the park requires a minimum donation of just 1 euro.  For additional information, call 055/26261. 

FREE/Explore the Museo Marino Marini

December 15–January 15, 2017
Piazza San Pancrazio, Florence

Statues from the permanent collection

The Museo Marino Marini is one of central Florence's under-visited art destinations, home to a permanent collection of 20th century treasures by its namesake Pistoiese sculptor, as well as the Rucellai Sepulchre, a Leon Battista Alberti masterpiece. In the lead up to the launch of its 2017 programming, the museum will host an "open month", offering free entry throughout the holiday season. Use the opportunity to get acquainted with this local gem ahead of what's sure to be one of its formative years. Museum hours are 10am–7pm Saturday–Monday and 10am–1pm Wednesday–Friday (closed Tuesdays). For more information, see the website.

KIDS/Meet Santa + Give Back
December 16–17
Baby Bottega, via il Prato 53-55r, Florence


Santa Claus is coming to town! This weekend little ones and their families are invited to chic children's concept store Baby Bottega to meet Babbo Natale and give to a great cause. Kids can hand-deliver their letters to Santa Claus, and a professional photographer will be on hand to take priceless snapshots that can be used in customizable calendars and other gifts for grandparents, relatives and friends. Proceeds from the photo sales will be donated to Onlus ENGERA for the construction of a maternity care center in Ethiopia, complete with a fully equipped delivery room, pre- and postnatal care classroom, vaccination space and visitors' room. Book your appointment with Babbo Natale by emailing or calling 055/286091.


UPDATED/Secret Santa Maria Novella
December 15–January 15, 2017
Santa Maria Novella complex, Florence

Credit | Antonio Trogu via Flickr Ph. Antonio Trogu via Flickr

Santa Maria Novella's museum is primed for a major upgrade with the incorporation of the Caserma Mameli, the large portion of the Domenican complex facing the train station, previously occupied by the Scuola Marescialli e Brigadieri dei Carabinieri. From December 15 to January 15, 2017, a special preview of the space will be offered before it officially becomes part of the museum complex. Enjoy the chance to explore its Chiostro Grande, which vaunts a famous fresco cycle, or take a peek inside the monks' former sleeping quarters and the Cappella del Papa. Guided tours last about 50 minutes and will be offered from 11am–4pm on December 17, 18, 24, 26 and 31, and January 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15, with reservations required.  Email or call 055/2768224 to book.

At the movies

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
December 15–25 at Odeon Cinehall, piazza Strozzi, Florence



#ICYMI... Ongoing events


December 8–January 8, 2017
Various venues in Florence


Let your imagination take "F-LIGHT" as this luminous local initiative returns. Nightly until January 8, some of Florence's most famous monuments and squares will have a whole new look, pulled off through elaborate video mapping shows, projections, light tricks and optical illusions. One of the (high)lights will be the installation on the Ponte Vecchio, "Lightness," dedicated to the role of light in some of the world's most famous artworks, from Caravaggio to Van Gogh and Raphael to Andy Warhol (see it from 5.30pm–midnight, December 8–January 8). Other locations involved include piazzale Michelangelo, the Biblioteca Nazionale, piazza(s) Santa Croce and Santo Spirito and the Porcellino market. For additional details, see MUS.E Firenze's website.

Until December 18, 10am–10pm
Piazza Santa Croce, Florence


Wander over to the Weichnatsmarkt in piazza Santa Croce, which brings Christmas cheer each year to one of Florence's most famous squares. Just a few days remain to indulge in wurstel and salty pretzels, washing them down and warming yourself up with a piping hot cup of mulled wine. Tip: if you're on the hunt for artfully handmade, unique gift items, this probably shouldn't be your number one shopping destination–but in terms of holiday season socializing, nothing beats a warm beverage and festive lights against the backdrop of the basilica. 

GOLDEN/Giovanni dal Ponte

Until March 12, 2017
Accademia Gallery, via Ricasoli 58-60, Florence

cm 203,4x230,4x13

Despite figuring prominently into Florence’s late Gothic period—and leaving behind a legacy that would influence the early Renaissance—Giovanni dal Ponte is an artist who hasn’t been spotlighted in depth. The current show at the Accademia is the first major monographic exhibition on dal Ponte, whose nickname was first coined in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists. The exhibition features a recently restored Coronation of the Virgin with Four Saints, and around 50 other works, many of which are on loan from institutions including London’s National Gallery and Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado.

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