Best events in Florence in October 2018

Our top picks

Mary Gray
October 4, 2018 - 10:04

AUDIO/Sonic Somatic

October 5-7

Serre Torrigiani, via Gusciana 21, Florence

2017 edition in Novoli

After last year’s noteworthy Novoli-headquartered edition, sound-centered festival Sonic Somatic makes a comeback, this time touching down in Serre Torrigiani, the gasp-worthy greenhouse inside Florence’s definitive “secret garden” in via Gusciana. Exploring the interplay between space, body and sound, Sonic Somatic’s 2018 edition will spotlight the work of American artist and composer Ari Benjamin Meyers, performing his genre-defying work in Italy for the first time. Five of Meyers’ recent works will be presented, spanning duets, solo pieces and group exhibitions; audience members will be invited to engage directly with the performers, moving their bodies and creating a symbiotic and spontaneous show-within-a-show. All events are free, but require a reservation; for the full program, see or book directly by emailing


LEONARDO/Codex Leicester

October 29-January 20, 2019

Uffizi Galleries, piazzale degli Uffizi, Florence

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the not-too-shabby name behind the Uffizi’s next blockbuster exhibition, The Codex Leicester. Water, Nature’s Microscope, a highly anticipated show curated by Paolo Galluzzi, director of the Museo Galileo. Since 1994, Gates has owned the Codex, one of the most thorough testaments to Leonardo Da Vinci’s inquisitive mind and wide-ranging interests and abilities. A manuscript comprising notes and drawings of Leonardo’s scientific experiments, the Codex Leicester bears witness to his investigations of geological, mechanical and astronomical phenomena, but primarily to his fascination with water, particularly its movement and capacity for destruction. The exhibition takes place as part of myriad celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci; other drawings and works on loan from a range of institutions will also be on display. For more information, see


EXPLORE/Open Week: Villa La Pietra

October 15-20

Villa La Pietra, via Bolognese 120, Florence

Open Week at Villa La Pietra is a rare chance to explore the grounds of NYU Florence’s sprawling campus, formerly the residence of British scholar and writer Sir Harold Acton and family. Free guided visits (with required reservations) will run throughout the week in both English and Italian, led by staff and scholars who know the collections up and down. Beyond the lush scenery, noteworthy rooms, and permanent art collections, visitors will also have the chance to see the current exhibition Harold in China, 1932-39: Photographs from the Acton Collection, which features not only photography but also books, sculptures, decorative objects and a Chinese robe that once belonged to the prominent Anglo-Italian family. To schedule a visit, call 055.5007210 or email



October 25-31

Harold Acton Library, lungarno Guicciardini 9, Florence

Just in time for Halloween, literary hubs and haunted houses the world over are preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s early sci-fi masterpiece Frankenstein in initiatives coordinated by the Keats-Shelley Association of America. The British Institute of Florence is a partner of this international “FrankenReads” event and will host several Halloween-week happenings highlighting Shelley’s novel’s enduring legacy. Kicking off FrankenReads in Florence is a Shelley-inspired “Storytime” in the children’s section of the library (October 25, 5pm); an adapted version will be read aloud, with a mask-making workshop to follow. Halloween afternoon (October 31, 4pm) brings a public reading of the original novel, followed by an 8pm screening of the 1931 film Frankenstein, a horror classic (open to library members only; 24-hour memberships are available). For more information, see and


ARTISANS/Apologia della Creatività

October 13, 7pm

Museo Novecento, piazza Santa Maria Novella 10, Florence

Santo Spirito artisan and modern-day “Renaissance woman” Marina Calamai is the creative force behind Apologia della Creatività, an experiential performance fusing sound, scent, music, dance, and Florentine craft culture. The soundtrack to the show will be pre-recorded audio taken from the artisan workshops of Florence—treating their tools, machinery, and neighborhood noises as symphonic musical instruments. Complementing this is an olfactory experience of straight-from-the-bottega-bench materials: think wood, bronze and wrought iron. The second half of the show will bring a performance by the Opus Ballet Company, using choreography inspired by Florence’s craft traditions and staged in the courtyard of the Museo Novecento. The event is organized in collaboration with Advancing Women Artists Foundation, Accademia delle Belle Arti, Manetti Battiloro and Le Arti Orafe. For more information, email


LGBTQ/Florence Queer Festival

Until October 19

La Compagnia and various venues in Florence

LGBTQ-themed cinema from around the world is the linchpin of the annual Florence Queer Festival, but hardly its only focus. Celebrating the full spectrum of sexual, romantic and personal identities, the festival also features a range of themed areas this year in its 16th edition. Try “reading rainbow” at the QueerBooks events, a range of readings, conferences, and debates on LGBTQ-themed literature; retrace the history of LGBTQ publications and magazines in Flipping through a revolution, an exhibition to be set up in the halls of La Compagnia alongside a Pia Ranzato photography show (both on until October 7; the latter will move to community center Ireos from October 10). Among the international films in the lineup is I Hate New York, a portrait of four transgender activists in the Big Apple (October 7, to be screened after a 9pm talk). For the full program, see


SPORT/Firenze Tennis Cup

Until October 7

Circolo Tennis Firenze, via del Visarno 1, Florence

Florence's tennis hub in the heart of the Cascine will soon celebrate its 120th anniversary with the Firenze Tennis Cup Trofeo Toscana Aeroporti ATP Challenger. Emerging talents from the Italian and international scenes will compete in a venue that's solidified its status as a training ground for major tennis stars (past players at the Circolo have included Jennifer Capriati and Roger Federer, among others). Beyond being an incubator for the next generation of athletes, Firenze Tennis Cup will also be a festive nod to its host venue's impressive history: the Circolo was the first in Italy to let women compete (1902) and a key force in the development of the Federazione Italiana Tennis (from 1910 forward). For more information and tickets, see



October 27-29

Stazione Leopolda, viale Fratelli Rosselli 5, Florence

Wine enthusiasts (and wannabes), prepare your palates for the return of FISAR’s (Italian Federation of Sommeliers and Restaurants) large-scale festival highlighting labels from around Italy and beyond. Make your way through the tasting stands to sample the vintages of various producers; in between sips, sneak off to a conference, themed workshop or masterclass. Program highlights are (literally) all over the map this year—get your tastebuds acquainted with Nihonshu (Japanese sake) in a masterclass with Firenze Sake (1.30-3pm, October 28) or explore the finest champagnes in an educational event held with Fier Ce Fît, focusing primarily on the crucial year of 2008 (11am-12.30pm, October 28). The third day of the festivities is open to industry professionals only; FISAR members have an admission discount throughout the event. For the full program, see


CHARITY/ANT Autumn Market

October 5-7

Sala dei Marmi Parterre – entrance from piazza della Libertà, Florence

Cancer care group Associazione Nazionale Tumori (ANT) hosts its annual fall fundraising market, aimed at supporting in-home treatment and assistance for patients and their families. The Merc’Ant is a one-stop shop for treasures both new and vintage, from clothing and accessories to kitchenware and linens. Expect to also find a smorgasbord of gourmet products spread throughout the stalls: wines, cookies and sweets, olive oil, coffee and more will be for sale, from brand-name supporters like Ruffino, Carapelli, Sardelli, Castello Banfi and others. Get a head start on holiday shopping or take the opportunity to treat yourself for a good cause; hours are 3-7pm Friday and 10am-1pm and 3-7pm Saturday and Sunday. For more information, see or call 055.5000210.


GARDEN/Fall Flower and Plant Showcase

October 6-7, 9am-7pm

Giardino dell’Orticoltura, via Vittorio Emanuele II 4, Florence

Gussy up your garden or add some autumnal touches to your terrace with help from the fall edition of the Società Toscana di Orticultura’s Flower and Plant Showcase, which will feature 68 exhibitors this year. The free-entry fall edition will feature a plethora of house plants and garden goodies for sale: chili peppers and citrus trees, succulents, perennials, cooking herbs, orchids, pumpkins and decorative gourds for the spirit of the season, plus plenty of vases and plant stands to keep them all looking pretty. Green thumbs will also find a range of gardening gear and accessories for sale. For more information, see or call 055.20066237.


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