The year in review

How Florence made its mark in 2010

Brenda Dionisi
December 9, 2010

The end of the calendar year is always good moment for reflection on the accomplishments over the past 12 months.


Florence's identity has changed little from the romantic ‘cradle of the Renaissance' image that the city and its leaders have perpetuated for decades, revelling in the glories of its past and failing to loo ahead to the achievements and challenges of the present and future. At the end of 2010, however, TF's staff can say with conviction and hope that things are changing, and that this change began in 2010, the first year of a new decade and the moment that the city began to truly embrace a spirit of revival.


In 2010, the city of Florence began to revisit both shelved dreams and real expectations for the future. It matured and began looking at itself and its relation to the world. It began to analyse the present, examine the good and the bad, and work to change the way things are done in order to improve, encourage, and revitalize the city.


Now, led by its news-making, future forward mayor, Matteo Renzi (see TF 127), the is intent on redefining 'brand Florence.'


Here is TF's review of the most important initiatives, events and news in Florence in 2010:


GOING INTERNTIONAL. At the start of 2010, Mayor Renzi and a delegation from Florence flew to the United States to meet U.S. officials in Washington to discuss joint celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the death of the Florentine who gave America its name, Amerigo Vespucci (TF 115). Upon the mayor's return, he wrote on his Facebook profile that ‘giving an international role to Florence was of utmost importance.'


JOINING OLD AND NEW. In February, the city and regional administrations teamed up in a bold move: to promote contemporary art. Joining the ‘old' and the ‘new' in the same viewpoint and vision, a citywide exhibition transformed historic monuments in Florence's city centre with outdoor and indoor art installations, creating a special dialogue between contemporary art and some of Florence's most important locations. The most shocking work? A neon sign on the façade of the Uffizi that read ‘All art has been contemporary' (TF 116). February was also the month of the arrival of the much-contested Tramvia Line 1 (TF 117). Although the inauguration was marked by demonstrations, it seems that the city has started warmed up to the tram (see page 3).


YEAR OF AWARDS. Florence's all-night party, Notte Bianca (‘White Night'), was a huge success. Approximately 150,000 people flocked to the city on April 30 to view and participate in more than 80 performances and events. Organized by the city's culture superintendent, Guiliano Da Empoli, the concept of the evening was ‘creative insomnia.' The event was so successful that months later, in November, the city was awarded Italy's Best Event Award. Special mention was also given for the Florence Gelato Festival. June saw the re-opening of the Galileo Museum, after a two-year restoration effort. Hailed as one of world's most high-tech, cutting edge museums, it was recently named the Best Managed Museum of the Year (see page 3).


MAJOR EXHIBITIONS. The city was abuzz with Caravaggio and wine fever last spring. The Caravaggio and Caravagesque exhibit at the Uffizi and Palatine galleries attracted crowds as did the Vinum Nostrum show at Palazzo Pitti (TF 123). We must add Palazzo Strozzi's biggest show of the year: the first-ever exhibition on Renaissance master Bronzino (TF 129).


MORE RESPECT FOR PUBLIC PLACE. Officials at Palazzo Vecchio presented a new project to clean the city: the Angels of Beauty, gathering local volunteers and even some foreign study abroad students (TF 125). 


TOP TOURIST SPOT. Results of the 2010 World's Best Awards Reader's Poll conducted by U.S. magazine Travel + Leisure (T+L) put Florence on top of the world. Florence was ranked the world's third-best city to visit, and the first in Europe, according to American travellers (TF 127). In November, the city claimed another first in‘s annual ranking: Florence was named the best destination in the world for art and culture in TripAdvisor's 2010 Traveller's Choice Destination Awards.


THE MAYOR-NEWSMAKER. Matteo Renzi was declared Italy's most loved mayor, with 66.8 percent of citizen's describing themselves as satisfied with his performance (TF 128). Renzi returned to the international headlines in December, appearing in Monocle's year-end Top 20 Heroes list. Editors of the prestigious international magazine on global affairs, business, culture and design, selected Renzi and others on the list on the basis of their 'talent and problem-solving skills.' According to editors, Renzi is ‘the new politician' in Italy and ‘rising star of the opposition Democratic Party.' Monocle's final comment: ‘If any European country needs a new class of politicians, it's Italy. A few more Renzis, please.'


THE INTERNATIONAL EVENT. Florence and Tuscany were awarded the World Road Championships in 2013. It will be the first time that Tuscany hosts the world championships, despite the region's strong cycling tradition. The finish will take place in Florence, while the nearby Tuscan towns will host part of the week of racing. The international event is expected to draw record crowds and attract the world's attention (TF 129).


BIG CITY EVENTS. Florence hosted one of the biggest events of the year in Italy: Florens 2010, the international biennial of culture and landscape. Over 150 events throughout the city focused on culture, some attracting national attention. One of these was the re-enactment of the miracle of San Zanobi, in which Piazza Duomo was covered in grass for a day (TF 131; TF 132).


NO CONCRETE. Florence made national headlines for an all-new ‘no concrete' urban planning scheme that goes in a completely different direction than in the past. Its aim is to reclaim and renovate buildings that have been left unused, rather than building anew. ‘We are the city of flowers. Fiorenza, not concrete,' said Renzi at a press conference introducing the new plan. ‘It is the first urban planning scheme in Italian history that is at "zero volume,"' the mayor stated (TF 130).

It seems that Florence is looking future forward. Write us at [email protected] and let us know what you think the city's resolutions for the New Year should be. Tanti auguri!

more articles