With last year’s papal visit, the unveiling of the restored Baptistery and new Opera del Duomo museum, Firenze Capitale and Expo-related initiatives, Florence 2015 is officially a tough act to follow. But wrapping up a red-letter year doesn’t mean that Florence plans to rest on its laurels. Civic projects, new openings and expanded cultural offerings are all on the horizon for 2016: here are some of the key events that will define the year ahead.
Fifty years ago, tragedy struck Tuscany when the Arno flooded Florence’s streets, claiming lives, homes and cultural patrimony. In 2016, the city will commemorate the anniversary and look toward the future with scientific projects, art exhibitions and gatherings. Palazzo Medici Riccardi will host a photography exhibition, focusing mainly on damaged artworks and monuments. Santa Croce will provide perspective with a demonstration of how the furious waters nearly destroyed Cimabue’s crucifix and Vasari’s restored Last Supper will also return to the complex for the occasion. Finally, several autumn events will pay tribute to three distinct groups: the sixty countries that stood in solidarity with Italy; the multinational Mud Angels who contributed to disaster relief; and the local emergency workers, firefighters, first responders and armed forces.
Florence has always produced top fashion designers and professionals, and with the opening of prestigious Italian fashion academy Marangoni, the city continues to cement its status as a style capital. Slated to open its doors in October, the Florence location will be Marangoni’s fifth, with other campuses in Milan, London, Paris and Shanghai. The school will be conveniently located along Florence’s high-fashion street, via Tornabuoni, and its opening will have major implications for Florence’s study abroad and style climates.
The Ospedale degli Innocenti, designed by Brunelleschi and touted as the world’s first secular orphanage, will reopen its doors on June 23 after undergoing a 12.8 million euro renovation. Spread across three floors and featuring two new entrances from piazza Santissima Annunziata, the updated museum will have temporary exhibitions complementing the permanent collection, which includes work from Luca and Andrea della Robbia, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Piero di Cosimo. Other additions include a dedicated children’s bookshop, family-focused activities and a cafe. The new layout makes the institution’s narrative clearer, tracing its history from the 15th century forward and highlighting how it became an international symbol of childcare, but also going further in depth about its architectural importance and function.
Two highly anticipated exhibitions at Palazzo Strozzi will lure in art lovers and international visitors this year. From Kandinsky to Pollock. The Art of the Guggenheim Collections will run from March 19 until July 24, exploring Neo-Avant-Garde movements through the lens of prominent collectors Peggy and Solomon Guggenheim. The remarkable roster of artists includes Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Man Ray, Roy Lichtenstein and Marcel Duchamp. Then, from September 22 through January 22, 2017, the Renaissance palazzo will showcase one of the world’s most influential contemporary artists, Ai Weiwei, known for his powerful work promoting freedom of expression and human rights, and a co-founder of the China Art Archives & Warehouse, among the first independent art spaces in the country.
In 2016, piazzale Michelangelo promises to reach its full potential after three years and five million euro invested in its rebirth, from accessibility improvements to beautifying efforts. Mayor Dario Nardella recently announced that the square will be pedestrianized by late January and invited couples to the romantic overlook for a kiss on Valentine’s Day, part of a Guinness World Record attempt. The piazza is also posed to become the city’s most popular hub for summer nightlife. And not just for affectionate couples: a designated seasonal space will be set up, similar to the Cultura in Piazza hangout in piazza del Carmine last year.
A takeaway lesson from 2015’s concerts: ‘old-school’ music icons bring in the international crowds and big bucks. After sold-out shows from electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and jazz musician Keith Jarrett, promoters are rumored to be working on getting Bruce Springsteen to Florence in the future. In the meantime, the 2016 concert calendar already features musicians with careers spanning decades. Former Queen guitarist Brian May rocks the Obihall on February 24; noted New Waver Elvis Costello will perform at Teatro Verdi on May 27; and prolific prog-rockers Yes bring their symphonic sound to the Obihall on June 1.
After Dan Brown’s bestselling novel Inferno brought Florence to a new crowd of consumers in 2013, buzz surrounding the film adaptation began and reached an all-time high last summer as Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and crew filmed from piazza Signoria to Porta Romana. The movie’s slated release date is October 13, and if past trends are any indicator, Florence’s popularity will only continue on the upswing. In the buildup to Inferno fever, we predict another tourism spike stemming from Florence and the Uffizi 3D/4K, a cinematic celebration of Florence’s main masterpieces and monuments, set for US release on January 27.
Wedding planners from all over the world will flock to Florence for the third Destination Wedding Planners Congress, a gathering of top-tier professionals from 50 countries. From the late David Bowie to Kanye West, the many famous faces who have tied the knot in the Tuscan capital have helped make it a prime international wedding destination, with an industry turnover of 55.2 million euro. From April 11 to 13, more than 150 high-profile planners will be in town to meet with fashion designers, hotels, catering services and restaurateurs, jewelers, photographers, florists and more.