The Palazzo Strozzi “playbill” has sharpened its contemporary edge in recent years with explosive exhibitions from leading artists like Ai Weiwei and Bill Viola. Continuing in that vein is a highly anticipated Marina Abramović retrospective, spotlighting the Serbian performance artist’s multifaceted work in a range of media—photographs, video, installations and re-stagings of some of her most noted past performances. Abramović is an early pioneer of the performance art genre, known for stretching the physical limitations of the body. Not lacking in pop appeal, she has collaborated with the likes of Lady Gaga and Jay-Z, and her well-known work The House With the Ocean View inspired a Sex and the City episode. For more information, see www.palazzostrozzi.org.
Keep your eyes peeled for purple T-shirts on September 30, or wear one yourself to help in the fight against breast cancer: Corri La Vita, now in its 16th edition, is one of the Florentine year’s definitive community events, a footrace not just for avid runners, but for families, schools, work organizations and all those interested in supporting the cause. This community-over-competition spirit will be on full display at this year’s closing ceremony, which for the first time will recognize schools, associations, sports groups and businesses with the highest participation, in addition to individual winners in the men’s and women’s divisions. Per tradition, runners and walkers wearing the T-shirt will have free access to select museums and exhibitions (including the Marina Abramović show at the Strozzi) on race day. Registration is open on www.corrilavita.it.
Television personality Serena Dandini is the artistic director and force of nature behind new large-scale Florence festival L’Eredita’ delle Donne, twinned with Parisian event Les Journes du Matrimoine and part of this year’s European Heritage Days. Both celebrate the contributions of women to the creation of their respective cultures: the “mascot” at Florence’s inaugural edition is Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, to whom our city’s art-capital status is largely attributable. But the lineup of ladies will reach beyond the usual suspects, spotlighting not only historical figures and art world personalities but athletes, scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, film stars and musicians, in free-entry formats including lectures, screenings, workshops and even bike rides. A highlight will be the exhibition Women Artists: Florence 1900-1950, and the packed off-circuit program includes more than 130 events. For more information, see www.ereditadelledonne.eu.
Forget bones. The Fortezza Da Basso is throwing Fido and friends a full-blown pet party. The first edition of Follow Your Pet will be a weekend dedicated to domestic critters of all sizes, ages and species. Much of the event will focus on practicalities of pet ownership—experts and veterinarians will be on hand to answer questions about animal diets, transportation, adoption, hygiene and training—but agility shows, disc dog tournaments and feline documentary films are on the program as well. Peak glamour (or humor, depending on your perspective) will come in the “Pet à porter” section of the event, which will feature full-fledged fashion shows by four-legged friends dressed in the latest runway-ready dog duds. For the full program, see www.fypfirenze.it.
A skip and a jump from Palazzo Pitti, intersected by via dello Sprone, piazza della Passera is the type of cutesy square where idyllic Italian daydreams take place. For a few days every September, this cafe-dotted, charm-packed piazza sets up an open-air stage hosting poetry slams and readings, live music and performance art, set against a backdrop of general neighborhood revelry and refreshment from the area’s numerous eateries and bars. At the time of article publication, the specific program for this year is still in the works, but this festival’s laid-back setup always makes it a meeting point for reunions among friends who haven’t seen each other since before ferie began. Head there every evening and see who you run into; for more information, see www.theflr.net/piazzadellapassera2018.
Let the spirit of Santa Croce sink in over this three-day event hosted by Controradio. “Genius Loci” refers to the soul of a place—and what place has a more distinct one than the Temple of Italian Glories? Organized in two marathon sessions (6pm-midnight September 20 and 21) and one shorter spurt (6-7.30am September 22), the event explores the relationships among art, architecture and artists by hosting poetry, music and theatre performances and examining how the environment affects their impact. Participating artists are Terry Riley, Cristina Donà, Area, Paolo Giordano, Tiziano Scarpa and Debora Petrina, Marion D’Amburgo and Sergio Givone. For more information, see www.controradio.it.
Move over, Molise. There’s another overlooked Italian region that wants its well-deserved time in the spotlight: Basilicata! Lucani get shown some love during the new edition of Settimana Lucana (Basilicata Week), a series of events, tastings, talks and more highlighting the happy-go-lucky spirit of this southern region, which The New York Times named “Italy’s best-kept secret” (before publishing that statement, anyway). Highlights will include a dinner and dance performance at River Urban Beach (8.45pm, September 9, on the terrace); an inaugural pool party at Le Pavoniere (from 7.30pm, September 8) and an apericena, Walter De Stradis book presentation and Mediterranea Quartet concert (8pm, September 13, Le Murate). Worth noting: Matera, formerly the region’s capital, is European Capital of Culture for 2019. See www.associazionelucanafirenze.org for more details.
Volleyball isn’t exactly the first sport that springs to mind when you hear “Italian stadium.” And yet! Legions of male volleyball players from around the world will land in Florence this month for the FIVB Men’s World Championship, co-hosted by the Italian and Bulgarian federations—the first time in history that two cultures have teamed up for the role. This is the third time that the Boot has brought in the international volley boys, holding past editions in 1978 and 2010. If you’re not an assiduous follower of the sport, some FIVB-approved MVPs to watch for are Maxim Mikhaylov of Russia, Yuki Ishikawa of Japan, Facundo Conte of Argentina and Micah Christen of the U.S. For match details and ticket information, see www.mandelaforum.it.
Florence’s free presses band together once again for the new edition of Firenze RiVista, a festival celebrating the contributions of Florence’s literary magazines, publishing houses and journals (with a punny moniker meaning both “magazine” and “re-envisioned”). Now entering its fourth edition, and still under the umbrella of Estate Fiorentina events, Firenze RiVista’s theme this year is Mutazioni (“Mutations”). Florentine cultural stronghold Le Murate will play host to the festival, and this year’s lineup of publications, still being updated at press time, includes L’Eco del Nulla, La Chiave di Sophia, Guida Quarantadue and The FLR (The Florentine’s bilingual Italian-English literary review). The full program is slated to launch online September 6; see www.firenzerivista.it.
Savor the final days of summer with the grand finale of the traveling Gelato Festival, which sees ice cream makers from around Europe compete for best-on-the-continent bragging rights. Finalists have been selected over a series of spring and summer itinerant stops in Italy, Germany, Poland, Austria and England, and now they return to the Renaissance city, birthplace of gelato, to go for the gold. The winner will advance to the Gelato Festival World Masters 2021, which will bring together past first-place winners (since 2011) of the All Star round. If you’re rooting for the home team, the lone Florentine is Paolo Pomposi of iconic Gelateria Badiani, whose “Dolce Vita” flavor will be up for debate. If you’re feeling heretical, Roman gelataio Vincenzo Lenci’s strawberry and red pepper flavor sounds worth sampling. See www.gelatofestival.it for more information.
Top chefs, Tuscan scenery and a worthy cause are the winning ingredients at the new Italian Chef Charity Night. The collaborative culinary event was born in the wake of the Amatrice earthquake of 2016, but has since broadened its scope. Artemisia, an association working at the local and national level to assist women who have experienced domestic violence, is the charity spotlighted at the new edition. Sixteen local culinary legends, including some with Michelin creds (Marco Stabile, Annie Feolde, Peter Brunel, Ombretta Saporito, Antonello Sardi and Stefano Cavallini) will put their best culinary feet forward, each preparing a dish for a buffet-dinner-with-a-view. It all happens against the backdrop of Forte di Belvedere, home to panoramic views, eerily compelling history and, for a few more weeks, Eliseo Mattiacci’s exhibition Gong. A minimum contribution of 25 euro is required to attend; for more information, see the Facebook page.
Pontassieve is gearing up to host one of the most gourmet weekends of the year. The fifth edition of Cookstock, a food and wine festival that’s evolved into an end-of-summer favorite, will bring together chefs, food trucks, wine producers, families and gourmands from near and far. A short 25-minute train or car ride from Florence, Pontassieve turns into a veritable foodie village for the weekend; highlights at this edition will include a Tuscan gin lounge bar on via Ghiberti, the now-traditional guided tours of world-class winery Ruffino; a new down-by-the-riverside event series making use of the scenic Sieve; and a pasta-making competition to be streamed live from the terrace of The Florentine’s editor-in-chief Helen Farrell, a Pontassieve local. For the full program, see www.cookstock.it.
Take a break from “juggling” everything in your everyday life and escape to the circus. The Cascine will soon host the new edition of contemporary circus festival CirkFantastik!, an Estate Fiorentina fixture that turns the park into a bona-fide Big Top for 11 days. International companies specializing in clowning, cabaret, music, visual arts and even “extreme theatre” will come together to put on performances for the young and young-at-heart. Opening night brings an “Anthropomorphic Cabaret” show by the Cordata F.O.R. company (with encore shows set for September 14 and 15), and a festive FuoriTenda (“off-tent”) events schedule will run throughout the festival. Get a preview at on-the-road editions touching down in the Giardino dell’Orticultura, Villa Vogel and Parco dell’Anconella (September 10, 11 and 12, respectively). More at www.cirkfantastik.it.
On the fringes…
September gets going in style with the second edition of Firenze Jazz Fringe Festival.