2019: the year ahead in Florence

From anniversaries commemorating Leonardo da Vinci, Caterina de’ Medici and Cosimo de’ Medici to local elections

Helen Farrell
January 9, 2019 - 11:05

From anniversaries commemorating Leonardo da Vinci, Caterina de’ Medici and Cosimo I de’ Medici to local elections, the best of basketball, Ed Sheeran and the opening of that tramline to the airport, 2019 in Florence looks more alluring than ever.



May 2, 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci—expect myriad events throughout the year to celebrate the Renaissance genius.





  • Everyone’s talking about The Big One—500 years since the death of Leonardo. Palazzo Strozzi and the Bargello are gearing for their joint spring exhibition, Verrocchio, the Master of Leonardo (March 8-July 14), while the Palazzo Vecchio welcomes home folios from Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus (March 25-June 24) on loan from Milan’s Biblioteca Ambrosiana and the Santa Maria Novella complex hosts a show (September 13-December 15) about Leonardo's contribution to botany. Outside Florence, Vinci pays tribute to its prestigious son with the exhibition titled Leonardo da Vinci. The Origins of the Genius (April 15-October 19) and Prato’s Museo del Tessuto showcases the research that Leonardo conducted into the mechanization of fibres (until May 26).





Florence’s Queen of France, Caterina de’ Medici, will be remembered 500 years on from her birth on April 13.




  • Let’s not forget two equally important milestones: the 500th anniversary of the birth of Caterina de’ Medici on April 13 and the 500th anniversary of the birth of Cosimo I de’ Medici on June 12. Florence’s Queen of France’s will be remembered at a March 16 conference at Apicius International School of Hospitality at Florence University of the Arts, while the first Grand Duke of Tuscany will be commemorated with a trio of Uffizi exhibitions beginning June 6 (see Exhibitions+Museums below).






  • Scoot over to the Mandela Forum for the International Skate Awards on January 19-20, top-tier Italian basketball PosteMobile Final Eight on February 14-17 and to see the Harlem Globetrotters on their world tour on March 1.



The Harlem Globetrotters continue their world tour in Florence.




  • Runners have no shortage of occasions to enjoy Florence with the international trail running event Ecotrail on March 30, the Half-Marathon on April 7 and Firenze Marathon on November 24 (not yet announced is the popular Deejay TEN run, likely to be mid-May).






  • ObiHall becomes TuscanyHall due to a change of sponsor and the restyled venue welcomes the likes of Roman singer-songwriter Gazzelle (March 7); pop band Måneskin (March 12+13); Irama (March 22+23); English blues legend John Mayall (March 25); Loredana Bertè (March 29); and indie-pop group Ex-Otago (March 31).


  • Firenze Rocks returns to the Visarno Arena this June with a sensational lineup: Smashing Pumpkins, Dream Theater, Badflower and Skindred (June 13); Ed Sheeran, Snow Petrol, Zara Larsson, Matt Simons (June 14); The Cure, Sum 41 (June 16).





Ed Sheeran to play Firenze Rocks on June 14, 2019.




  • There’s opera, ballet and dance galore this year at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, including The Barber of Seville, La Traviata and Madame Butterfly.


  • From August 28 to 31, The New Generation Festival takes over the Palazzo Corsini gardens, bringing the finest young music talent to a world stage.






  • Continuing the legacy of its founder Jane Fortune, who passed away in September, Advancing Women Artists marks the 10th anniversary of its official founding by unveiling the restored seven-metre-long painting of The Last Supper by Plautilla Nelli in the Santa Maria Novella Museum.


  • 2019 brings changes to the Bargello Museums (Bargello, Medici Chapels, Orsanmichele, Casa Martelli and Palazzo Davanzati – closed February 17-March 18). In addition to purchasing regular tickets at the usual price, visitors can now buy an 18-euro ticket that gets access to all museums. A year-long ticket is also available for 50 euro, granting unlimited access to all the Bargello Museums while guaranteeing priority entrance, exhibition visits without a price premium, free guided tours, conferences, events, family workshops and concerts. This year’s exhibitions will include Beauty, Art and Noble Ornaments in 17th-century fashion at Museo Davanzati in the autumn and Verrocchio, the Master of Leonardo, held jointly at the Bargello and Palazzo Strozzi (see Anniversaries above).




The exhibition Verrocchio, the Master of Leonardo will be held jointly at the Bargello and Palazzo Strozzi.




  • The Marino Marini Museum has reopened with photography exhibition titled The Museum Effect. Instantaneous Intrusions in Art Places (until February 24) by Massimo Pacifico in the crypt.


  • The Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti have announced their full exhibition planning for the year: Animalia Fashion, exploring the rapport between fashion trends and animals (January 8-May 5, Palazzo Pitti); Antony Gormley’s Being Human (Uffizi, February 26-May 26); Kiki Smith's What I saw on the road (February 14-June 2, Palazzo Pitti); Johann Paul Schor’s Golden Carriage. The Epheremal Splendour of Baroque Carnivals (February 20-May 5, Palazzo Pitti); Feminine Lexicon. The Commitment and Talent of Women 1861-1926 (March 7-May 26 in Palazzo Pitti); Tony Cragg, continuing the series of contemporary sculpture exhibitions in the Boboli Gardens (May 7-October 26); the trio of exhibitions to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Cosimo I begins with I cento Lanzi del Principe, exploring the Medici guards from their foundation under Cosimo I to the end of the Medici line in the 1700s (June 6-September 29, Uffizi) and continues with A Woven Biography. Tapestries in Honour of Cosimo I (June 6-September 29, Palazzo Pitti) and Il Villano e la sua botticella. Entertainment in the New Garden, focusing on the Villano sculpture in the Boboli Gardens, likely the first one made for the park (June 6-September 29, Palazzo Pitti); Making a Masterpiece: Trajan’s Column (June 18-October 6, Boboli Gardens); All the Colours of Jewish Italy. Precious Fabrics and Textiles from Ancient Jerusalem to Modern Prêt-à-porter (June 27-October 27, at Uffizi); Skies in a Room. Wooden Ceilings in Florence and Rome in the Renaissance (August 30-December 1, Uffizi); Shaped by Fire. Bronze Sculpture in Florence by the Last Medici (September 18-January 12, 2020, Palazzo Pitti); Pietro Aretino and Renaissance Art (November 26-March 1, 2020, Uffizi).




A Dolce and Gabbana gown in the Animalia Fashion exhibition at Palazzo Pitti.




  • At Palazzo Strozzi, the big winter exhibition will be Natalia Goncharova. A Woman and the Avant-Garde, from Gauguin to Matisse and Picasso (October 3-January 19, 2020). Produced and organized in conjunction with London’s Tate Modern, the exhibition celebrates the Russian artist who was a central figure of the avant-garde movement in the first half of the 20th century.


  • At the Accademia, look out for the New Acquisitions 2016-2018 exhibition (January 22 to May 5), showcasing masterpieces that have recently enriched the permanent collections at the world-famous gallery.






  • Final testing is underway for the second tramline from piazza dell’Unità to Florence airport. The expectation is that the line will be up and running by the end of January.


  • Organizers are currently working on the fourth Black History Month Florence, running in multiple venues from January 28 to February 28.


  • The Gabinetto Vieusseux library and archive are moving to the Santa Maria Novella church complex. 4,000 square metres of Santa Maria Novella will be used to offer social housing apartments to young couples and families in financial straits in a drive to bring more residents back to the city centre.


  • The Bocelli Foundation is set to take up residence in piazza San Firenze.


  • The former Teatro dell’Oriuolo gets a revamp, which currently shares a building with the City of Florence historical archives.


  • More than 100 events for children and families will take place on April 12-14 for Firenze dei Bambini.




Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella plans to run for a second term.




  • Although the date has not yet been confirmed, it is likely that local elections will be held in Florence on May 26. The current mayor Dario Nardella, in office since May 26, 2014, has said that he will run for a second term.


  • On June 24, the city’s towers will reopen to the public: Torre San Niccolò will open for the whole of the summer, while Porta Romana and Torre della Zecca will be open upon reservation. Porta San Frediano opens for the first time.


  • Estate Fiorentina is expected to be bigger than ever. There are murmurings about a rooftop music festival, more events at Santa Maria Novella, outdoor cinema by the Uffizi as well as in piazza del Carmine, the return of Firenze Jazz Fringe Festival and the Ruffino Cares responsible drinking campaign.


  • Florence Biennale will take place at the Fortezza da Basso from October 18 to 27. The theme celebrates Leonardo's inventions.


  • The F-Light Firenze Light Festival returns from December 8 to January 6, 2020.






  • The Brewer of the Year event pulls in the “pinters” at TuscanyHall on January 18-20 (see page 11).


  • Chianti Lovers returns to the Fortezza da Basso on February 10, giving wine lovers the chance to taste local red wine.




Chianti Lovers returns to the Fortezza da Basso




  • Taste resumes its early March slot (March 9-11) at Stazione Leopolda, bringing the best of Italian food to the Tuscan capital.


  • Florence Cocktail Week shakes up the city’s mixology scene from May 6 to 12, this year extending to Tuscany’s top bars.




  • The city continues as a film set with the shooting of Spanish Netflix series Money Heist, while rumours abound regarding the third Medici: Masters of Florence, likely to focus on Savonarola. As we go to press, there’s no news on the release of 6 Underground filmed in Florence last year.





  • From the organizers of Castiglion Fiorentino’s Sagra del Cinema, plans are in the works for a three-day outdoor film festival in July highlighting classics of Italian cinema and celebrating the conviviality of summer.

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