Your Thursday forecast: best events in Florence

Our top picks for May 10-16

Mary Gray
May 10, 2018 - 10:59

PONTORMO/Miraculous Encounters: the Albardiere returns to Florence

Ongoing until July 29

Sala delle Nicchie, Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Pontormo's Visitation, which will also be on display at the exhibition

Just a few short weeks after the inauguration of the newly restored Capponi Chapel, the unassuming corner of Santa Felicita home to several Pontormo masterpieces, including his monumental Deposition from the Cross, the nearby Palazzo Pitti has opened a Pontormo-themed exhibition in partnership with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. After two decades, Pontormo’s striking Alabardiere portrait will return to Florence, where it once belonged to the Riccardi family before passing through numerous private collections and ending up at its current home in the Getty. Set to take place in the Sala delle Nicchie, the exhibition will feature a substantial selection of other 16th century works, with the Alabardiere centerpiece displayed alongside its preparatory sketch. Another highlight to look for: the beloved Visitation from Carmignano (pictured), most recently in Florence for Palazzo Strozzi’s 2017 Bill Viola exhibition. For more information, see the Uffizi website.


EU/State of the Union off-circuit
May 10-12
European University Institute, Villa Salviati, Florence

Villa Salviati

High-profile European leaders (Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission; Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy; Prokopios Pavlopoulos, President of Greece, to name a few) will gather in Florence for the eighth edition of State of the Union, an annual EU-focused conference organized by the EUI, with “Solidarity in Europe” as this year’s theme. Although the main discussions and events with leaders are off limits to the general public, a wide-ranging program of related public events will run. Fulcrum of the festivities is the free-admission Open Day of the Historical Archives of the European Union at Villa Salviati (10am-5.30pm, May 12). The full program of family-friendly events will include a 4.30pm concert from the Academy of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, an all-day sculpture exhibition from Roberto Coccolini, kid-centered circus workshops with Blanca Teatro, and guided visits of the grottoes, chapel, main villa and gardens (email to book). For more information, head here.

STUDENTS/Art is in the Square
May 12
Piazza San Lorenzo, Florence

Students at Florence’s always-busy Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici will showcase their end-of-semester achievements to the public with the return of Art is in the Square, the annual springtime event spotlighting artwork, photography and design produced in LdM courses. The day traditionally kicks off with a pop-up, open-air exhibition in piazza San Lorenzo, a stone’s throw from the school’s main campus in via Faenza. Setting up shop on major Medici territory such as San Lorenzo is perfectly aligned with the day’s mission: to celebrate Florence’s—not to mention the institute’s—heritage and still-active status as a hub of creativity and production, cross-cultural contact and dialogue. Following the exhibition, dance students will give a performance in the Church of San Jacopo in Campo Corbolini (5pm, via Faenza 43), one of those hidden-in-plain-sight Florentine gems. Entrance is free; rain locations are the nearby via dell’Alloro 13 and 14. For more information, follow LdM on Facebook.

CULTURE/Fabbrica Europa
Until June 10
Stazione Leopolda + various venues in Florence

Celebrating all things contemporary, Fabbrica Europa is a sparkling spring-and-early-summer showcase bringing together dancers, performance artists, musicians and other creatives from around the world. Now entering its 25th edition, Fabbrica Europa will use its “silver” year as a fresh start rather than a self-referential tribute to past editions. Organizers are billing it as “Year Zero”, inviting performers and audience members to bring a new and distinctly 2018-type energy to the proceedings. To that end, although most of the events remain anchored in the festival’s standard location of Stazione Leopolda, this year brings the unconventional addition of the Cascine’s Ex-Scuderie Granducali to the venue lineup. Friday night's Leopolda lineup (May 11) is the whole package: a dance performance by the Simona Bucci company, a winter-themed performance art piece with original music by Julia Kent, and an afterparty/electronic show by Omar S for LattexPlus. For the full festival program, see the website.



COMMEMORATION/Frederick Douglass
May 11, 6pm
English cemetery, piazzale Donatello, Florence

Escaped slave and renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass was enamored with Italy and viewed it as a safe haven, calling it a place where he could "walk unquestioned among men". On one of his visits – May 11, 1887, to be precise – he stopped by Florence's Swiss-owned "English" cemetery, which takes its name from the prominent Anglo poets and writers buried there (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, for one). Douglass' primary motivation was to pay respect to abolitionists-activists Richard Hildreth, Theodore Parker and Barrett Browning herself, all of whom are buried there.  (The image above depicts a later visit to the tomb of another abolitionist, Lloyd Garrison – as cemetery caretaker Julia Holloway says, "he seems to have made a habit of {visiting the tombs}".) Holloway and community members will gather at 6pm on May 11 to commemorate Douglass' initial visit, over 100 years later, and to celebrate his life and values.  

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