“Hot town, summer in the city”: these classic Lovin’ Spoonful lyrics are sure to spring to mind if you’re spending the warmer months in the Tuscan capital. But blazing temperatures take a backseat to all the cultural programming, nightlife and nonstop action set for this year’s edition of Estate Fiorentina, which extends well into the autumn. Here are just a few of the highlights.
June 7-9, Villa Bardini
Villa Bardini takes on literary luster for three days organized by the Wimbledon cultural association. Leggere cambia tutto—“Reading changes everything”—is the central theme for the second edition of Città dei Lettori, which will gather over 50 authors from a range of countries and genres. Standout names on the program include Michela Murgia, Antonio Scurati, Frédéric Beigbeder, Marco Missiroli and numerous others. (Fun fact: this is also the first-ever large-scale Italian literary festival held in a historic garden).
June 13-16, Visarno Arena
Florence has regained its footing on the international music scene with the rise of Firenze Rocks over the past two editions, held in the historic Visarno Arena. Headlining the program this year is a host of world-class stars from a range of rock iterations and eras: Tool and the Smashing Pumpkins (June 13), Ed Sheeran (June 14), Eddie Vedder (it’s the former Pearl Jam frontman’s second time in town for FR) (June 15) and The Cure (June 16).
June 12, 15 and 18, various venues in Florence
Don’t miss Music Pool’s top-notch trilogy of jazz shows, innovatively staged in some of Florence’s most unexpected corners. First in the lineup is a performance by Gianluca Petrella and Pasquale Mirra in the theatre of the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory (June 12), followed by a guided visit (5pm), book presentation (5.30pm) and Sara Battaglini Trio concert (6.30pm) among the treasures of the Casa Museo Rodolfo Siviero (June 15), the former home of a real-life “monument man”; and finally, a third concert at the Observatory by the Alkaline Trio with renowned saxophonist Scott Hamilton (June 18).
June 14, Tepidarium del Roster
Inspired by the work of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, the cultural association of the Teatro della Limonaia in Sesto Fiorentino will present this theatrical pièce in the dazzling Liberty-style setting of the Tepidarium del Roster—a show in and of itself.
July 13-24, piazza Santissima Annunziata
With a winning formula combining high-profile concerts with art-themed visits (and buffet dinners, in some VIP ticket packages), MusArt is back for a fourth edition in the shadow of the Ospedale degli Innocenti. Pre-show, concertgoers get the chance to explore some of the area’s finest monuments, from the Innocenti Museum to lesser-known sites. Concerts get rolling with Roberto Bolle & Friends on July 13, with the rest of the lineup featuring Francesco De Gregori, Steve Hackett (formerly of Genesis), a performance of the Game of Thrones saga score by the Ensemble Symphony Orchestra, and an exclusive sunrise concert with Danilo Rea.
June 26-August 11, piazzale degli Uffizi
Summer is prime time for film buffs in Florence, with numerous opportunities to enjoy outdoor movie screenings. But Apriti Cinema!, run by the Quelli dell’Alfieri association, absolutely wins in the “best backdrop” category, repurposing piazzale degli Uffizi as an open-air cinema and welcoming Florentines and locals back to an otherwise tourist-centred square. Nightly from June 26 to August 11, the square hosts films in a variety of genres, many of them culled from the programs of Florence’s finest film festivals, many of them more of the “pop” variety. All are shown in their original language with Italian subtitles.
June 10-15, various venues in Florence
Conceived as a way to spotlight current-day Florence to the visiting fashion set (held during the height of the Pitti Uomo trade fair), Secret Florence, now in its fourth edition, features a series of contemporary initiatives typically held in lesser-known architectural gems or underused urban spaces worthy of rediscovery. With creative direction done by the Tempo Reale association, known for its experimental concerts and sonic-centric events, Secret Florence shows run the gamut from site-specific performances to concerts and film screenings, with the goal being to merge all things au courant in Florence with the city’s profound historic and architectural heritage.
June 23, various open-air venues in Quartiere 4
Isolotto injects some new energy into the neighborhood with a series of shows, itinerant experiences participatory workshops organized by the Virgilio Sieni dance and choreography company, all aimed at revitalizing this oft-overlooked pocket of the Florentine periphery.
June 27-May 30, Teatro del Maggio
Add a new venue to your summer rotation of music hotspots: the Cavea of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is opening up for a season of showstopping concerts by big-name bands and artists. Event organizers Le Nozze di Figaro are behind this star-studded list: Stairway to Heaven (June 27), Negrita (July 8), Franz Ferdinand (July 11), Marlene Kuntz (July 14), and Calexico and Iron and Wine (July 25).
July 1-August 5, Grand Cloister of S. Maria Novella
This event’s longevity is second to none: after “taking a leap” last year and moving its 29th edition from the Bargello to the Grand Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, Florence Dance Festival will continue in its new location as it reaches the 30-year milestone. Under the artistic direction of Keith Ferrone and Marga Nativo of the Florence Dance studio in the San Frediano district, this year’s jam-packed lineup includes two evenings (July 23 and 24) with L’Etoile Sergei Polunin performing Sacré, a tribute to the time-honored legacy of Vaslav Nijinsky featuring choreography by one of the dance world’s current “wonder boys.”
June and August, various terraces of Florence
It’s rooftop season in the Renaissance city! Firenze dall’alto: altri punti di vista (Florence from on high: other points of view) is a series of six concerts planned to take place across some of the city’s picture-perfect ‘peaks’ (think the Museo degli Innocenti’s Caffe Verone, the Camminamento di Ronda of Palazzo Vecchio and plenty of other panorama-gifting hotspots). Running the show is LAMA – the Development and Cooperation Agency.
June 22-August 30, parvises of various Florentine churches
The piazza and the parvis (church porch) make the perfect pair in this new initiative from Toscana Classica, which brings live music to the steps of some of the city’s sacred spaces. The series kicks off on June 22 at 10.30pm with a performance by Toscana Classica’s orchestra octet of the overtures of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and “The Marriage of Figaro,” held on the steps of the Misericordia del Duomo. The program won’t be confined to classical music, however: jazz, experimental forms of electronic music and rock will all make appearances throughout the summer.
September 5-8, various venues in the Oltrarno
70 hours of music, 150 artists and more than 50 performances will touch down in Florence’s lively “Left Bank” for the new edition of the Firenze Jazz Festival. Many of the events will be concentrated around the river (including on a raft below the Ponte Vecchio, per tradition). Others will primarily be held in piazza del Carmine, which will take on a jazz-village vibe for the occasion; nearby cocktail bars and clubs in San Frediano and Santo Spirito will also host their own related concerts, jam sessions, and performances, adding a New Orleans-esque dimension to Florentine nightlife.
September 27-29, various venues in the Oltrarno
See the Temple of Italian Glories in a new and updated light at Genius Loci: discovering Santa Croce. Spirit of place—genius loci—is at the core of this event, which features three days of music, poetry and theatre, running from sunrise to sunset and held between various spaces of the Santa Croce complex (including the haunting Pazzi Chapel, the Cloister and a range of hidden corners in the Basilica). Audiences at each performance are encouraged to consider the ever-changing rapport between the artist and the space—truly a stage like no other.
October 4, 5 & 6, various venues in Florence
Brainchild of Italian broadcaster Serena Dandini, L’Eredità delle Donne (The Heritage of Women) is an interdisciplinary, multi-venue mega-showcase highlighting the extraordinary and understudied accomplishments of Italian women through the centuries, in the sciences, fine arts, literature and countless other disciplines: a celebration of Florentine and Italian herstory. The festival will take shape through a series of talks and panels, readings, guided visits, film and theatre premieres and tributes to those who’ve contributed to the progress. Symbolic “mistress of ceremonies” is Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, Electress Palatine and the one to whom Florence owes its status as a world-class art destination.