A summer of art

The Season at Villa La Pietra

Emily Sandefer
June 20, 2013

Summer in Florence brings to mind hot days and crowds of tourists, but there is an escape from the busy city streets: nestled in the hills of via Bolognese lies Villa La Pietra and its world-renowned gardens, home to New York University’s (NYU) Florence program. It is here, in the 57-acre estate, hidden behind wrought iron gates, that The Season takes place. This annual three-week program of free cultural events brings together artists, musicians and public intellectuals from around the world. This year, The Season runs from June 17 to July 5.


Designed by the Acton family in the early twentieth century, the Renaissance-revival garden of Villa La Pietra was considered a natural extension of the house: an outdoor living room, a place for the family to gather with friends for discussion, events and enjoyment. It was with this in mind that NYU envisaged The Season. Here is a preview of the upcoming shows.


The evening of June 21 will see a lecture by British actor and director Mark Wing-Davey. Being Me, Being You will explore whether neuroscience, neurobiology and neuropsychology allow actors and audience to connect with one another.


On the same evening, in the cloister of Santo Spirito, three actors will stage Hamlet, playing all the roles. The performance is also a fund-raiser for the Amici di Santo Spirito Onlus; donations at the door are welcome. On June 22, Jonathan Batiste and the Stay Human Band are returning to Villa La Pietra with dapper style and genre-transcending New Orleans sounds and rhythms.

On the bill for June 25 is Andrea Cavallari’s The Edge of Darkness, a work that uses video projections and live music to explore perceptions of vision and sound and the relationships they share.


Crossed Destinies, held in the courtyard of palazzo Strozzi on June 26, is an evening of song and dance, telling Italo Calvino’s mystical stories with songs performed in the Xhosa and Zulu languages.


During The Season, writers and poets from around the world have been invited to come and present their work in the gardens of La Pietra. On five different days (June 22, 26, 27, 28 and July 5), attendees will have a chance to meet, among others, poet Dorothea Lasky, author of three poetry collections; Hopwood Award and Pushcart Prize winner Matthew Rohrer; and Darin Strauss, author of the memoir Half a Life, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.


On July 2, NYU Commedia dell’Arte students will perform the Don Giovanni Spectacle, a work incorporating masks, music and wild ribald scenes mostly taken from Tirso de Molina’s Don Giovanni.


Finally, on July 3, Olivia Chaney will present A Musical Journey in Villa La Pietra’s Limonaia. Chaney, a Florence native, visited Sir Harold Acton at La Pietra as a child and returns with original songs and innovative re-inventions of baroque and Renaissance classics from around the world. Escaping the bustle and heat of central Florence, visiting a Renaissance gem on the outskirts of the city and enjoying the finest musical, theatrical and literary performances at The Season is free, but places (which go fast) must be reserved; see details on the right.


The Season

June 17–July 5

Most events at Villa La Pietra, via Bolognese 120

See the full schedule at http://tinyurl.com/q7y54lx

All events are free, but reservations are required: e-mail [email protected] or call 055/5007212

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