Best events in Florence in October 2017

Our top picks

Mary Gray
September 27, 2017 - 19:23


September 30-October 1

Palazzo Vecchio, piazza della Signoria, Florence

Pop star and author Levante

Dive into all things digital and a very old venue! Dubbed a “luna park of innovation” by its organizers, WIRED Next Fest, put on by the technology publication of the same name, returns to Palazzo Vecchio for its second Florentine edition. Hundreds of speakers from a range of industries will share ideas on emerging trends and cross-disciplinary collaboration. International names in the lineup include Marietje Schaake, described by The Wall Street Journal as “Europe’s most connected politician”; Gijs Corstens, managing director of a coding school for refugees called Hack Your Future; and Italian pop star Levante (now a published novelist with Se Non Ti Vedo Non Esisti, Rizzoli Libri). All events are free, but require registration; see the website for details.

MOVEMENT/Sonic Somatic

October 5-8

Centro Commerciale Novoli, Florence

Ph. Michelle Davis

Sonic Somatic returns to rock the suburbs this year with its first-ever edition outside the historic center, set to take place in the San Donato/Novoli area, particularly its standout shopping complex. This hybrid visual art-contemporary sound festival places the human body at the center of its performances and installations, touching down in a variety of venues to better explore how sound is diffused and perceived. Group listening sessions, guided walks with headphones and individual exercises will all be organized, aiming to explore the relationships between space, time and body and how they shift. At publication of this article, the full program is still being defined; watch the website for updates.


HELLISH/Inferno Run

October 21 & 22, “village” opens 8.30am

Cascine Park, Florence

Abandon all hope, ye who enter the Cascine on race day. “Run Like Hell” is the tagline for this Dante-inspired showdown, a fundraiser for the Tommasino Bacciotti Foundation. An obstacle course complete with mud, climbing walls and cold pools, the Inferno Run is designed to resemble each ring in Dante’s vision of hell (but, you know, in a fun and family-friendly way). Start times vary depending on the course you choose—competitive rounds kick off around 11am, while the non-competitive “hellions” will head out in waves. There’s even a “Baby Inferno” for little devils on October 22, with staggered departures depending on age. For more information and to register, see the website.

CLASSIC/30 years of A Room with a View

October 4-8

Various venues in Florence

Tip your hat to Lucy Honeychurch and enjoy tea with the moviemaker who helped bring E.M. Forster’s heroine to life. James Ivory, director of the screen adaptation of A Room With a View, filmed largely in Florence, will be in town to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Briton-in-Italy classic. A gala movie night will take place at the Odeon (October 5, 8.30pm), with Ivory and select cast members in attendance, as well as an Edwardian-style “Tea with a View” in the company of Ivory and other VIPs in the Harold Acton Library of the British Institute (October 7, 5-6.30pm; [email protected] to register; 20 euro donation requested for non-lifetime members of the library). For more information, see the Estate Fiorentina website.


ALL’APERTO/Picnic on the Grass for ATT

October 8, 12.30pm

Serre Torrigiani, via Gusciana 21 (Porta Romana), Florence

Give back while you take part in a glamorous 19th century style picnic in the lush private garden of Serre Torrigiani, only open on rare occasions. The second “Picnic on the Grass” is a fundraiser for cancer charity Associazione Tumori Toscana and an opportunity to get your Manet on (the dress code calls for hats). Baskets of Tuscan delicacies are included in the 30 euro entrance fee (10 euro for children under 10), with meat and fish options available. Once the Déjeuner sur l’herbe is done, have your portrait painted by the artist on tap, or move between the live music, readings, and straw hat exhibition by Tuscan company Grevi. Call 335 6586211 or 347 0164466 to book.


PLACE/Genius Loci

October 6-7

Basilica of Santa Croce complex, Florence

See Santa Croce in a whole new light. The unprecedented event “Genius Loci” brings 15 international artists to the Temple of Italian Glories, performing in varied backdrops of the complex—the Cenacolo, the Pazzi Chapel and Brunelleschi’s cloister—at three distinct parts of the day (Sunset at 6.30pm, Night at 9.30pm and Daybreak at 6am). To live up to its title, the series will aim to showcase the spirit of Santa Croce, while turning it on its head and using the venue as a contemporary stage. All events are free, but require a reservation on EventBrite. View the full program and links to bookings here.


DANCE/La Democrazia del Corpo

October 10-December 30

CANGO, via Santa Maria 25, and various venues in Florence

To paraphrase Dana Gould, our bodies all enter this world in the same way. They may not be equalizers, but they help us empathize: celebrate these democratic instruments and their many capabilities at the Virgilio Sieni dance and choreography company’s annual autumn festival, La Democrazia del Corpo. The program features workshops, conferences and meetings with international artists, dancers, choreographers and members of the art world, along with performances and lectures. Site-specific installations are set up and around 30 far-flung individuals and dance companies take part. The full program is still being defined at publication of this article; for details, see the Virgilio Sieni company's website.


CINEMA/A month at the movies

Throughout October and beyond

Cinema La Compagnia, Odeon and various venues

Autumn in Florence is a movie buff’s dream. The traditional “50 Days of International Cinema” moniker for film festival season is out this year—because the movies keep multiplying. La Compagnia opens October with the final days of the Florence Queer Festival (ongoing until October 1), followed by international documentary showcase Festival dei Popoli (October 10-17) and French film series France Odeon (October 19 to 22). Besides hosting A Room with a View celebrations (see above), the Odeon features box-office biggies, from the reboot of horror classic It to the buzzed-about sequel Blade Runner 2049 (pictured). Finally, get your indie fix at the Florence Short Film Festival (October 24 & 25, Spazio Alfieri).


VISIONARY/Radical Utopias

October 20-January 21, 2018

CCC Strozzina, piazza Strozzi, Florence

Get schooled on the radical architectural movement in Florence of the 1960s and 1970s, a machine oiled by political upheaval, pop culture and psychedelia. The undercroft of Palazzo Strozzi shines the spotlight on the revolutionary work of groups and figures including Archizoom, Remo Buti, Gianni Pettena, Superstudio and 9999, but will look beyond architecture. “Radical Utopias” will feature video, design, installation and performance from this productive creative period, which saw young innovators working to squash the status quo in the Renaissance city, which influenced the art world at large. For additional information, see Palazzo Strozzi's website.


PARIS/Belle Epoque French Market

October 21-November 1

Piazza Santissima Annunziata, Florence

Francophiles in Florence, rejoice: after a Reggio Emilia run, this miniature French-style village modeled after the best of the Belle Epoque arrives in town for the third consecutive year. Stock up on Marseille soaps, (most likely mass-market, but nonetheless lovely) macarons, and oodles of traditional French treats and gifts, including home and kitchen accessories, cosmetics and more. Food huts and French wines by the glass will keep village visitors warm as the fall nights grow cooler, while Liberty and cabaret-style stands and lighting will bring a Moulin Rouge mood. Follow event updates on the Facebook page.


CONTEMPORARY/Florence Biennale

October 6-15

Fortezza da Basso, viale Filippo Strozzi, Florence

The 11th edition of this contemporary art showcase zeroes in on eco themes this year, submitting that sustainability is not just about preserving our planet, but respecting all life forms on Earth. As such, artwork on display will explore not just naturalistic themes, but the value of varied cultural traditions and identities and the protection of world heritage. New for 2017 is a prize in the digital art category, while standard recognitions for excellence in photography, installation, performance art, painting and a variety of other media will also be given, along with the well-established Lorenzo Il Magnifico award for lifetime achievement. For the full program, see the website.


PREHISTORIC/The Fragility of the Sign

Until November 26

Archaeological Museum, piazza Santissima Annunziata 9b, Florence

Dig deep at the newest exhibition from Florence’s archaeological museum, which highlights prehistoric cave art and paintings, portrayed in images conserved by the Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria, largely from Libya and the Horn of Africa. Among these are photographs from cave sites in the Tadrart Acacus mountain range, recently added to UNESCO’s list of world heritage in danger, in part due to migratory patterns that mimic those of prehistoric times. Threats to these early art forms are the inspiration for the exhibition’s “fragility” theme: the show begins with an introduction to the work of Paolo Graziosi, founder of the Istituto, woven into the larger topic of treasures in peril. For more information, see the museum website.




Don't miss the first Open Day at the Franco Zeffirelli International Centre for the Performing Arts. The brand new cinema and culture hub will offer free admission for residents of the province of Florence on October 1 from 10am to 6pm.

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