ARCHITECTURE/Nel Chiostro delle Geometrie
Until September 28
Santa Verdiana complex, piazza Ghiberti 27, Florence
Ph. A. Bianciardi
The drama and dynamism of architecture are the central themes of Nel Chiostro delle Geometrie, an interdisciplinary series of lectures, site-specific installations, concerts and more, organized by Teatro Studio Krypton with DIDA, the architecture department at the University of Florence. Everything plays out in the hidden venue of Santa Verdiana, a deconsecrated church buried within the department headquarters (part of a larger former monastery). Many of the events and projects are spearheaded by students, a point that’s more evident than usual this year, given the theme, Mettete dei fiori nelle vostre visioni. Inspired by an anti-war lyric from a 1967 Giganti anthem, the 2018 title celebrates the spirit of the student protests of 1968, in light of the 50th anniversary. Two July highlights will be an “Urban regeneration” talk (given in Italian, July 3) and a pop-up exhibition by students from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze (July 19) before the showcase picks up again in September. For details, see www.teatrostudiokrypton.it.
Now in its 29th edition, Florence Dance Festival packs its bags for a move to Santa Maria Novella after an eight-year run in the Bargello courtyard. The theme is “Novella Classica”, drawing inspiration from mythology, superheroes and the setting itself (read more about the concept and festival history here). Program highlights are a free-entry Open Day (July 3), offering the chance to glimpse the grounds ahead of the 25 festival performances; a splashy inaugural show from Nederlands Dans Theater (July 5); a gala evening with the Bill T. Jones company (July 9); a Michael Clark Company show followed by “Swingin’ Hips” themed disco with the Nico Gori Swing 10tet (July 27) and a New Generation night (July 21) spotlighting some emerging Tuscan talents. A noteworthy off-circuit event is co-artistic director Marga Nativo’s presentation of her book So Ballare il Bolero di Ravel (July 4 at Opera di Firenze). View the full program at www.florencedancefestival.org and read our interview with co-founder Keith Ferrone here.
Runners, beer lovers and hybrids of the two join forces for the new edition of Drink & Run, organized by ASD Italian Sport and aiming to promote responsible drinking—and perhaps delighting in gut and guilt-free beer, too. From the starting line on lungarno del Tempio, the 8-kilometer route weaves through some of the most scenic backdrops and monuments of the city, among them piazza della Signoria, piazza Santa Croce, Palazzo Pitti and piazzale Michelangelo. Stands along the way will serve crisp-cold brews (and water, if that’s your thing). Upon arrival at the finish, runners and their cheerleaders can dig into Chianina hamburgers, fried seafood, and veggie-friendly panini, all from local street food vendors. (Consider it the unofficial, beer-centric complement to The Wine Talks, a summer event series at Serre Torrigiani in Piazzetta, organized by Ruffino and The Florentine for the responsible drinking campaign #RuffinoCares). Advance registration is required on www.drinkandrun.it.
With its new status as a full cultural association, Black History Month Florence extends its scope beyond its February initiatives, beginning by co-promoting the inaugural edition of the African Diaspora Cinema Festival at Villa Romana. Featured films in this new festival are from Cameroon, Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and numerous other African countries, or are from filmmakers of African origin residing internationally—in Brazil, Canada, France, and the United States, to name a few. The focus for 2018 is on stories related to human trafficking; beyond shedding light on this issue, the event aims to spread awareness of the social and economic power and potential of African-produced cinema. Fiction films, documentaries, and shorts will all be screened, and the program also includes a Nollywood Master Class (a reference to the Nigerian film industry) and round table discussions. Schengen, a related three-part exhibition curated by BHMF, will open at Villa Romana in the days following the festival. The show touches on timely themes of transnational identity, cultural and political borders, and the fluidity and tragedy inherent to the blue water of the Mediterranean today. See www.africandiasporacinemafestival.com and Facebook page BHMF for more information.
Which of Florence’s many summer music festivals will ultimately be the most memorable? The answer may be “blowin’ in the wind”, but the Florence Folks Festival has a good shot. The homespun event, now in its third edition, features four days of rootsy revelry. Adding new intrigue in year three is a venue change from Ponte di Varlungo to the bare-bones, industrial backdrop of the Ex-Manifattura Tabacchi; it’s just one of many city-backed revival projects in store for the space this summer. The program kicks off with a show by the duo Dente & Guido Catalano (July 25): not quite readings, nor concerts nor plays, their performances mix elements of stand-up comedy and social commentary with acoustic music. Day two brings the now-annual Extraliscio event (July 26), a show presenting folk standards re-interpreted with a rumba sound and a dash of experimentation. Colombian artist Elkin Robinson, New Yorker Nickodemus and Salento producer Popolus round out the program highlights. For more information, see www.florencefolksfestival.it.
Emerging young stars of the international opera and music stages will converge on Florence come summer’s end for the second edition of the New Generation Festival, an elegant event held in one of Florence’s most prestigious private gardens. Last year’s black-tie, all-evening, exclusive affair drew top talent and audiences from afar; its second edition ups the ante with the addition of daytime events, including wine tastings, cultural tours and excursions. Garden performances, however, remain the highlight: the festival’s full staging of Shakespeare’s Henry V, starring Jack Gordon and Alice St. Clair, is a standout (August 31). Notably, it’s the first known performance of the play with a full live orchestra, using a Sir William Walton-penned score made famous by the Laurence Olivier film. Come intermission at all productions, audiences can dine on Tuscan delicacies and explore the gardens. For tickets and the full program, see www.newgenerationfestival.org.
Come August and the height of the summer heat wave, you can usually count on shop and restaurant closures and minimal scheduled events. The good news? This is prime time to sagra—we’re using it as a verb, because the Tuscan sagra is more than a tradition-infused food fest, it’s a way of life. Craving summer activities and small day trips, but can’t stomach the crowded seaside? Enter: the scattered sagre around the greater metropolitan area. A few top picks: the Sagra della Cipolla (Onion Festival) in Certaldo, which celebrates the town’s second most famous export, after Boccaccio (August 23-September 2); the Sagra della Pizza (no translation needed) in Cerreto Guidi (August 18-September 6); the Sagra della Bistecca in Fucecchio, a meaty choice for the month’s quietest moment (August 4-19), and the Ferragosto Sagra del Cinghiale (Wild Boar) in Marradi (August 18-19).
Artistic collective inQuanto teatro has teamed up with the ballerinas and hip-hoppers of the LUV Dance Movement to create an inspired new format for a performance: audience members will pedal through the Quartiere 4 side streets and the Cascine Park on their bikes, while theatre and dance shows will pop up along the way. Led by the Tuscan comic Massimiliano Galligani, mArgine will feature never-before-performed readings from the playwright Andrea Falcone and a dance performance in piazzale Kennedy deep in the park (8.15pm). Florentine dusk itself is another star of the show, and the initiative aims to spotlight some of the lesser-known corners and curves of Florence where people’s paths cross every day. The event is free and open non-bikers, who are welcome to attend the performance portion. For more information, call 3387762875.
By day during the height of summer heat, the swarms of people in piazzale degli Uffizi can be a deterrent. But by night, the Giorgio Vasari-designed square has always had a vastly different feel—a magic even more pronounced now that the venue is serving as an open-air movie theatre for the second consecutive year. Apriti Cinema! features a packed program of nightly films, a mixed bag of selections from Florentine festivals (Middle East Now, Festival dei Popoli, Lo Schermo dell'Arte, Florence Queer Festival, among others). The numbers and dates have more than doubled since last year's inaugural edition (with 48 films scheduled, compared to last year's 23) and all movies will still be shown in original language with Italian subtitles. Entrance is free while the limited seats last—but the view is grand even from the gallery steps. Full program here.
In 1487, Egyptian sultan Qayt Bay sent Lorenzo the Magnificent a giraffe in a gesture pointing to the positive relations between the Medici court and the Islamic world. The giraffe, a then-relatively unknown animal for the population of Florence, died just two months later, but piqued several painters’ interests: Giorgio Vasari, Piero di Cosimo, and Francesco Botticini all depicted and celebrated the creature. Centuries later, in the 1830s, the Viceroy of Egypt gifted Grand Duke Leopold II with another giraffe, today preserved in the Natural History Museum of La Specola, but which has moved to the Uffizi as a centerpiece of the exhibition Islam and Florence: Art and collecting from the Medici to the 20th century. Strategically-gifted giraffes are just the beginning, though: the show is a wide-ranging overview of art from far-flung corners of the Muslim world, art in which many prominent Florence-based collectors, including Frederick Stibbert and Stefano Bardini, took an interest.
Ph. Andrea Bardi