2018: the year ahead in Florence

A first look at the highlights

Helen Farrell
January 11, 2018 - 10:30

From quidditch (!) to the council’s quest to ditch pesky potholes, the opening of two new tramlines, international volleyball and top global music acts, 2018 in Florence is set to be more eventful than ever.


Gucci Garden in piazza della Signoria 

  • Fashionistas and foodies are itching to check out the all-new opening of Gucci Garden, which opened on January 9. Set in the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia, in piazza della Signoria, the fashion house’s latest Florentine project includes a store selling limited-edition items, a restaurant by three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura and exhibition spaces curated by fashion critic Maria Luisa Frisa.
  • Go Nordic as Norden: Man and Nature from Scandinavia and the Baltic Countries in the Photography of Luca Berti kicks off 2018 at Villa Bardini (January 18-February 18).
  • 69 km of roads, 37 km pavements and 10 km cycle lanes will be resurfaced within Florence’s city limits by the end of 2018. Plus, look out for the new LED street lighting, 30,000 lamps for a safer, brighter city and suburbs.
  • Effective January 1, 2018, Airbnb now collects tourism tax (three euro per person for a maximum of seven nights in an Airbnb rental) for Florence properties automatically via its website and is responsible for making the payment into the City’s coffers by the 15th of the next month.
  • Florence’s Chamber of Commerce has changed address with new offices, a panoramic rooftop restaurant and high-tech coworking suites in its purposely English-named Work in Florence space (bookable by companies in half-day intervals via the bespoke app), located in Palazzo della Borsa Valori between piazza dei Giudici and piazza Mentana. A 17-million investment opened for the inauguration of Pitti Uomo 93, it’s a fitting gesture for a city that has always had fashion in its foundations and finances.


Florence participated in the global Women's March in 2017; a first anniversary
demonstration will take place this year. | Ph. Alice Fischetti

  • Florence continues its female-first approach with a Women’s March on January 21 starting in piazza San Lorenzo at 2:30pm. This first 2018 rally, part of the #Weekend Of Women (WOW), stands in support of multiple social justice and human rights issues ranging from the protection of the environment, the elimination of nuclear weapons, the struggle for peace in the world and equal rights for all colors, religions, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations.
  • Starting this January, students from around the world arrive in Florence to study for an Executive Master’s in Cultural Heritage organized by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the organization that protects, promotes and maintains the Florence cathedral complex, in partnership with Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Europe’s most important Catholic university. Visit the website to find out more.


Installation from a past edition of Black History Month Florence | Ph. via SACI

  • Black History Month Florence returns for its third and largest edition yet, featuring around 60 events throughout February, spanning art, film, music, workshops, food, tours, kids’ activities, theatre and dance. Institutional involvement continues to increase, with key participation this year from the Institut Français, the British Institute, the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, NYU Florence, Le Murate PAC, SACI, the American Academy in Rome and numerous other top-tier players.
  • English-speaking wordsmiths and enthusiastic sharers will have a new outlet in which to exchange ideas and experiences. A Rome-based series of themed storytelling meet-ups, now two years strong and organized by the owners of the international hostel The Beehive, is coming to Tuscany. The first Storytellers Florence event is set to take place February 3 at Todo Modo (via dei Fossi 15r).
  • Visual artists will love the Villa Bardini exhibition From Pinocchio to Harry Potter. 155 years of Italian illustration from the Salani Archive since 1862 (February 12-June 3).
  • The Franco Zeffirelli International Centre for the Performing Arts will start the scholastic side to the uber-popular museum, shop and tearoom, which opened last July. Students from around the world will study set design in Palazzo San Firenze, the city centre’s former courthouse. In the spring courses will also begin for opera singers, while music lovers are in for a treat with the San Firenze concert series: on February 9, Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini students will perform cinema-centric music by Rota, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Milhaud.
  • Chef Simone Cipriani, of Essenziale restaurant in the Oltrarno, opens FAC (Fast and Casual) at via Martelli’s Eataly, promising speed, quality, flavour and substance at competitive prices.


Pitti Immagine Taste at Stazione Leopolda

  • On March 1, a new ticketing system based on seasonal and culminative concepts will be introduced at the Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens. Make the most of the new three-day ticket giving priority entrance to the Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens costing 38 euro (21 euro concessions) from March 1 to October 31 and 18 euro (11 euro concessions) from November 1 to February 28, 2019. Or just purchase daily tickets for each museum: Uffizi, 20 euro (March 1 to October 31); Palazzo Pitti 16 euro (March 1 to October 31); for the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti there’s a 50 per cent discount for morning birds who buy tickets before 8:59am and enter the museums by 9:25am; Boboli Gardens: 10 euro (March 1 to October 31).
  • On March 10–12, Florence’s favourite food fair Taste returns for its 13th edition at the Stazione Leopolda. From vinegar to vino, talks to tastings, it’s a food-extravaganza!
  • Rome-born singer-songwriter and rapper Jovanotti is sure to pull in the Tuscan foot-tappers at the Nelson Mandela Forum for eight March dates (10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19 and 20th).
  • Palazzo Strozzi goes modern with its spring exhibition Birth of a Nation. Italian Art from the Postwar to 1968 opening March 16 through July 22. A mesmerising journey through art, politics and society in the shape of work by artists like Renato Guttuso, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Mario Schifano, Mario Merz and Michelangelo Pistoletto, the show is expected to explore the clashes, changes and new trends in art in Italy from the end of World War II through to the protest years.


Bob Dylan will perform in Florence in April 

  • The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature winner American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan plays Florence’s Nelson Mandela Forum on April 7 three years since his last Italian date. But tickets have already sold out.
  • Cin cin the spring with Florence Cocktail Week. From April 30 to May 6, the city’s talented mixologists and international guests are sure to shake things up in this successful and ever-original drink showcase putting Florence’s finest firmly on the global cocktail scene.
  • Plans are in the works for the first instalment of Utopia Italy, an interdisciplinary “festival for dreamers” set to take place across Florence, Pisa and Lucca from April 4 to 8. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s untimely death, the inaugural edition’s theme will be “Emulating MLK,” with a series of lectures, films, exhibitions, concerts and artistic competitions planned. Stay tuned for specifics.

Middle East Now returns with more topical weight

  • Florence’s Middle East Now film festival consistently breaks down regional stereotypes with humanity and humor, but it also sheds light on current events. The ninth edition, running from April 10 to 15 at La Compagnia and Cinema Stensen, will carry additional topical weight, given the hotly debated peace process plan currently being drafted by a White House team.



  • May is going to be great for families in Florence. Mark your diaries with Firenze Bambini, a children’s festival organized by Mus.e Firenze and the City of Florence. Dates still to be confirmed.
  • It’s also a month of movement as the much-anticipated Tramlines Two and Three are slated to become operational. Line Two will run from piazza dell’Unità to Peretola Airport, via Santa Maria Novella train station in viale Alamanni, viale Guidoni and via di Novoli, whereas Line Three will take passengers from SMN to Careggi hospital with one variant via piazza Dalmatia and another along via Vittorio Emanuele II.



The Student Hotel Florence mockup


  • Set to change the face of Florence’s student scene, The Student Hotel opens this Spring in viale Lavagnini. On June 7 it will host its grand inauguration event BedTalks, a free-thinking event that connects extraordinary people working on positive change in the world. Expect 20,000 square metres of community and change near the Fortezza da Basso gardens.

"Afghan Girl" by Steve McCurry, the portrait that made him famous


  • Opening June 13 at Villa Bardini is the big summer show Steve McCurry – Icons, with 100 of the contemporary photographer’s best shots of faces, war scenes and life in all its emotions.

Guns N' Roses will perform at the Visarno Arena


  • Florence is so happening that the summer starts with four top international concerts for Firenze Rocks 2018: Foo Fighters on June 14, Guns n’ Roses June 15, Iron Maiden June 16 and Ozzy Osbourne June 17.
  • The 2018 IQA Quidditch World Cup (yes, you read that correctly!) will be held from June 27 to July 2, 2018, in partnership with the City of Florence and travel firm the Human Company, at fields adjacent to ACF Fiorentina’s Stadio Franchi. 31 countries are expected to attend the Harry Potter-inspired event, making it the biggest tournament in quidditch history.
  • The town gets painted pink from July 6 to 8 with the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission Dragon Boat Festival, a sporting event held every four years and expected to bring thousands to Florence. The American International League of Florence (AILO) is coordinating volunteer efforts to ensure a positive experience for visiting teams, made up of breast cancer survivors hailing from Singapore, Germany, Brazil, France and numerous other countries.



First edition of The New Generation Festival, 2017


  • From August 29 to September 1, The New Generation Festival takes over the Palazzo Corsini gardens for the second year, bringing the finest young music talent to a world stage. Performances will include Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 5 starring Charlie Siem, as well as a full staging of William Shakespeare’s Henry V set to the live orchestral score by Sir William Walton and non-classical performances, from up-and-coming bands to international DJs.

  • The final tournament of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship is co-hosted by Italy and Bulgaria from September 10 to 30, 2018. Pool A will play at Florence’s Nelson Mandela Forum.
  • From September 21 to January 20, 2019, the Strozzina will host a major exhibition devoted to the work of Marina Abramović, one of the most celebrated and controversial personalities in the world of contemporary art, best known for using her body as a means of expression. The show brings together over 100 works ranging from the 1970s to the present day.
  • On September 27, Fanfare and Silence: A Journey into the Painting of Primo Conti through the 1900s finishes the exhibition year at Villa Bardini, with a section of the show at the Fondazione Primo Conti in Fiesole and in the Sala del Basolato of Fiesole’s town hall.


  • The Advancing Women Artists Foundation’s quest continues as Plautilla Nelli’s Crucifixion, a two-year conservation project, is unveiled at the San Salvi Museum in mid October.

  • In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the Uffizi Galleries and the Museo Galileo are teaming up to present the exhibition, The Codex Leicester. Water, Nature’s Microscope. With an exceptional loan from Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and owner of the Codex since 1994, the manuscript will go on display in the Aula Magliabechiana inside the Uffizi Gallery from October 29 to January 20, 2019. 

more articles