What unites different religious traditions? What divides them? What place is there for faith in an ever-evolving world? Dig deep at the second edition of the Festival delle Religioni, founded in celebration of Florence’s longstanding humanistic tradition. Prominent clergy, philosophers, thinkers and laypeople from a range of nations, belief systems and theistic-or-nay perspectives will be present for three days of dialogue. The undisputed highlight comes on opening day with a visit from His Holiness The Dalai Lama, returning to Florence for the first time since 1999 for a roundtable discussion called “Freedom in Rules” (9am, September 19). Tickets are available on the BoxOffice Toscana circuit. To follow program updates, see the website.
This visual arts and music festival is the brainchild of composer Andrea Cavallari, pushing more boundaries with each year that passes. The 2017 theme is Breath of statues, capitalizing on new collaborations with the Uffizi, Palazzo Strozzi and Prato’s Centro Pecci. Genoa-born, Los Angeles-based guest of honor Vanessa Beecroft, known for lofty and body-centric performance art, will set up two site-specific installations in the Palazzo Strozzi courtyard (September 29, 9pm) and the Uffizi’s Sala delle Niobe (October 2, 3pm). For the full program, see the website.
Pontassieve’s street cred has soared since the launch of this foodie extravaganza, which brings top chefs, food trucks, producers, winemakers and more to the town squares. Sections are painstakingly divided by piazza: sink your teeth into Santarpia pizza in piazzale Ruffino; try something from each grab-and-go truck in piazza Vittorio Emanuele II; opt for traditional fare in piazza Boetani; or get schooled in piazza XIV Martiri, where The Florentine’s EIC, Helen Farrell, will host a cooking class with chef Paula Carrier. Art exhibitions, Ruffino winery visits and live music are also on the program. For more information, see the Facebook page.
The post-Bill Viola dust has barely settled, but Palazzo Strozzi is back in full force, launching Act III in a trilogy that began with 2010’s Bronzino exhibition and continued in 2014 with Pontormo Rosso e Fiorentino. The newest installment is The Cinquecento in Florence. From Michelangelo and Pontormo to Giambologna, which will explore the cultural period ushered in by the Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent, with special attention dedicated to the controversial figure of Francesco I de’ Medici. Expect over 70 artworks by grand masters: besides the namesakes, the lineup features Giorgio Vasari, Santi di Tito and Bartolomeo Ammannati, among others. For more information, see Palazzo Strozzi's website.
A time-honored September tradition since 2003, this non-competitive race (with 12km and 5km route options) raises funds for breast cancer prevention, bringing the community together for a day of solidarity, sport and culture. Sideline cheerleaders can expect a sea of blue, the shade of this year’s customary Ferragamo-designed event T-shirts, which allow free admission to numerous museums and monuments on race day. The 15th edition features a symbolic “endorsement” from Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, and more current celebrity support from Sanremo Festival winner Francesco Gabbani and actor Jamie Campbell Bower. Registration is open on the website.
The Big Top is back! Florence’s most animated and ambitious circus festival returns with new tricks up its sleeve. The 2017 edition, part of Estate Fiorentina, features 60 performances by a plethora of international companies (Side Kunst Cirque, Baraka, Djoume, Slapstick and Teatro Necessario, among others), as well as Sunday morning shows by Florentine circus schools and daily workshops with the biggest names in the business. Budding acrobats, clowns and tightrope walkers can take part in the numerous children’s activities on the program. Watch the Cascine transform from city park to cabaret. For the full program, see the website.
Florence continues to up the contemporary ante in piazza della Signoria, following feather-ruffling shows by Jeff Koons and Jan Fabre. The man of the hour is Urs Fischer, the Swiss artist who first rose to fame in 2011 with a full-size wax replica of Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, presented at the Venice Biennale. This exhibition will feature two wax candle sculptures placed on the Arengario of Palazzo Vecchio, which will gradually melt over the duration of the show, underscoring the finite nature of our existence. A second highlight will be the 12-meter metal sculpture Big Clay, on loan from the V.A.C. Foundation Collection and in dialogue with the Torre di Arnolfo. For more information, see the MUSE Firenze website.
Paint the town rainbow during the 15th edition of Florence Queer Festival, focused primarily on LGBTQ+ films, but spanning art exhibitions, book presentations, lectures and associated events. Making its Italian premiere is Jewel’s Catch One, chronicling the life of entrepreneur and activist Jewel Thais-Williams, the face of the United States’ oldest African-American-owned disco, and featuring interviews with icons from Madonna to Sharon Stone. Another highlight will be the September 27 screening of documentary Chavela, on the influential queer Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. Singer Ginevra di Marco will be in the audience for the show. For the full program, see the website.
Florence who? Prato steals the spotlight during the first days of September with this annual smorgasbord of concerts, traditions, sporting events and children’s activities. This year’s edition coincides with the silver anniversary of Maciste Contro Tutti—a landmark Italian indie concert held in Prato. Centro Pecci will celebrate with a commemorative show (September 10, 9pm) featuring Francesco Magnelli and Max Collini and other top names. Additional highlights include another of Pecci’s must-attend musical events, the Urban Blackout night (September 9); Prato’s answer to calcio storico, the elaborate palla grossa game (semifinal September 9); and multiple performances by the colorful Magda Clan Circo group (September 9-17). For the full program, see the website.
The Florentine is one magazine among many on Florence’s pitch-perfect publishing scene. Local free presses (Lungarno, Florence is You, Riot Van, FUL and others) will celebrate common values, mingle with readers and share inspiration at the third edition of Firenze Rivista, Italy’s only festival focused on all things magazine-related. This year’s theme is Ricerca and the program—still in the works at press time—will include a variety of talks, labs, film screenings, events and guests, plus institutional involvement from the Accademia della Crusca, the Premio Italo Calvino and a collaboration with Trieste-based project Parole O_Stili. Follow program updates on the website.
Top gelatai from around Europe put their skills to the test in piazzale Michelangelo: this is the grand finale edition of the traveling Gelato Festival, which showcases the continent’s tastiest flavors and their masterful makers. Sixteen of the European ice cream world’s influencers, selected over the course of previous editions, will fight for bragging rights in the birthplace of gelato, with the winner decided by popular vote and input from a panel of a journalists and experts. Slurp up the industry’s adventurous and artisanal flavors, with Florence’s prettiest backdrop as a sweet bonus. Be an early bird and score a delicious discount as a reader of The Florentine. View the full program on the Facebook page.
Rub elbows with Renaissance city upper crust at this world-renowned event, first launched in 1959 and now arguably Italy’s most important antiques fair. Dozens of Italian and international exhibitors will have their finest wares for sale in the sumptuous setting of Palazzo Corsini. If your mere mortal budget can’t be stretched for 16th century credenzas and sparkling French porcelain, treat the event as the magnificent pop-up museum that it is: the marketplace will be open to the public (September 23-October 1), and numerous celebrations, such as an inaugural fireworks show on September 21, will set the stage for an elegant week. For more information, see the website.
Dive into all things digital and new...in a very old venue! Dubbed a "luna park of innovation" by its organizers, WIRED Next Fest, put on by the eponymous technology publication, returns to Palazzo Vecchio for its second Florentine edition. Hundreds of speakers from a wide range of industries will share ideas on emerging trends and cross-disciplinary collaboration, and will highlight how technology shapes all facets of entertainment, politics, culture and science. International names in the lineup include Marietje Schaake, described by The Wall Street Journal as "Europe's most connected politician" and a member of Democrats 66; Gijs Corstens, managing director of a coding school for refugees called Hack Your Future; and David Karlak, a virtual reality expert who recently worked on the Ridley Scott-produced film Alien: Covenant. Italian pop star Levante (now a published novelist with Se Non Ti Vedo Non Esisti, Rizzoli Libri) will also make an appearance. All events are free, but require registration; see the website for details.
Ph. Alexandra Korey
Honoring the birth of the Virgin Mary, the Rificolona Festival is a family-friendly folklore procession, moving from Santa Felicita to Santissima Annunziata. Believed to commemorate 17th-century farmers’ September journeys to Santissima Annunziata, where they would pay tribute to the Madonna, the contemporary spectacle is a colorful showcase of children's handmade paper lanterns. Miniature parades happen in the various quartieri and generally awards are given out for the most inventive designs. Take part in the fun with a creation of your own – or better yet, find a friend with a terrace and watch the action from above!
Consider this the grand finale of Florence Synagogue's summer Balagan Cafe series – but it's also a continent-wide celebration. The European Day of Jewish Culture's theme for 2017 is "Diaspora: Identity and Dialogue." Locally, the day will feature a talk (in Italian) by Alberto Cavaglion highlighting the stories of Italian writers in Jerusalem, from Matilde Serao to Pier Paolo Pasolini (part of a series starting at 11.30am), as well as a chance to sample traditional Jewish delicacies from around the world (1pm). For the full program (which includes a range of initiatives in both Florence and Siena), see the Firenze Ebraica Facebook page.
Englishman Lindsay Kemp has become something of an entertainment fixture in Florence: most recently, he performed in collaboration with IED Firenze during Pitti Uomo 92. Now the mime-dancer-actor-choreographer is back for a full week of workshops, performances and initiatives: a key entry is Le Murate's exhibition of Kemp's work, with a chance to meet him at the show's opening (5pm meet-and-greet, 5.30pm inauguration, September 19). Other events are planned at the Museo Novecento and IED Firenze, but the main highlight will be Kemp's performance at Teatro Puccini (September 22, 9pm), titled "Kemp Dances" and exploring the themes of invention and reincarnation. Book your tickets on the Teatro Puccini website.
Turin's top jazz festival has a new home in Florence. Music editor Michelle Davis shares what you need to know here.