EXHIBITION/ Benozzo Gozzoli and the Chapel of the Magi and Il Fiorentino: The Grand Diamond of Tuscany
The Renaissance master and his relationship with Florence is at the centre of an exhibition from December 16 to March 15 that is intertwined with the history of Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Visitors delve into the life and work of the artist with works on loan from the National Gallery, London, the Uffizi Galleries, the San Marco Museum, Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice and the Musèe du Louvre in Paris. Letters from the State Archives of Florence detail the artist’s close relationship with the Medici family and text from the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana also features in the well-rounded display. While there, explore the new exhibition titled Il Fiorentino: The Grand Diamond of Tuscany, dedicated to one of the rarest jewels of the Medici that has since been lost. The reconstruction was created by silversmith Paolo Penko and dazzles in much the same way with its mysterious story detailed until January 26.
Palazzo Medici Riccardi Museum, via Camillo Cavour 3, Florence
The popular fest dedicated to films from and about India directed by Selvaggia Velo fosters a flow of culture, ideas and film between the Ganges and the Arno. Thirty-four screenings will be held in-person at Cinema La Compagnia as well as being accessible online via Più Compagnia on mymovies.it. A packed programme accompanies the screenings with exhibitions, talks, cooking shows, special events and guests including Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, who will connect virtually to present his latest work, Chehre. The line-up features a tribute to Satyajit Ray on the occasion of 100 years since the birth of the master of Indian cinema, with a showing of the works that made him famous, the Apu Trilogy. Also included is the cult Bollywood film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham on its 20th anniversary and Womb, which explores the journey of a woman who walked 4,000 kilometres in 240 days to discover the stories of women from all over India, screened in the presence of the protagonist.
Cinema La Compagnia, via Cavour 50, Florence
Seasonal magic abounds at the Christmas village set up in Arezzo that sees a Ferris wheel, traditional markets, light installations, Christmas Brick Arezzo, a Tyrolean village, Santa Claus’ house and many more festive surprises for a fully winter wonderland.
The sound of soaring strings sets festive spirits in motion with Christmas concerts scheduled at many of the city’s main theatres. At 5pm on December 24, Nil Venditti and the Orchestra della Toscana present Symphonic Dances by Fazil Say at Teatro Verdi, followed by a performance of the overture from Rossini’s world-renowned operas, La Cenerentola and The Barber of Seville, and Mendelssohn’s violin concerto played by Alina Ibragimova. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino will bring Puccini’s Madame Butterfly to its spectacular stage from December 9 to 27.
Teatro Verdi – via Ghibellina 99 and Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino – piazza Vittorio Gui 1
Get your skates on and head to Giardini della Fortezza where you’ll find a Ferris wheel for the first time in Florence, ready to transport you 55 metres high for an unforgettable view of the city. Having come back to earth, take a spin around the longest skating rink in Europe (they say!), whizzing around the fountain in the centre, before grabbing some mulled wine to warm up. Santa is set to put in an appearance, with surprises, games and entertainment for children from December 3 to 24, as well as a Christmas market and food stalls.
Giardini della Fortezza, piazzale Oriana Fallaci, Florence
Twenty-two international artists feature in this fascinating display that centres on the concept of ‘Annunciation’, interpreted by each of the contemporary artists through various media of painting, sculpture, video and sound that are positioned in dialogue with the permanent collection. The artists are Huma Bhabha, Irma Blank, Koo Donghee, Marlene Dumas, Isa Genzken, Jessie Homer French, Roni Horn, Jutta Koether, Andrew LaMar Hopkins, Maria Lassnig, Babette Mangolte, Lucy McKenzie, Aleksandra Mir, Susan Philipsz, Paola Pivi, Maja Ruznic, Jenny Saville, Fiona Tan, Genesis Tramaine, Andra Ursuta, Marianne Vitale, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who combine their works in the intriguing show.
Palazzo Pretorio, piazza del Comune, Prato
Guided tours of the Synagogue, museum and the Jewish cemetery of Florence begin from December 5, with two visits of the Jewish museum at 11am and 4pm. The visits continue on December 12 at 11 am, with a guided tour of the centuries-old Jewish cemetery in Viale Ariosto. Finally, on December 19 and 26, there will be guided tours of the Synagogue and museum at 11am, 3pm and 4pm. Cost is 10 euro per person. Book by calling T: 055290383.
The international festival curated by Radio Papesse dedicated to radio work and podcasts returns with its programme of guided listening sessions, live performances and encounters that are subtitled in Italian for the first time. Celebrating the art of storytelling without images, the third edition of the festival takes place at Villa Galileo, the photo library of the Kunsthistorisches Institut, the Botanical Garden, The Stellar and The Recovery Plan, spreading stories across the city.
The remarkable exhibition spaces at Villa Bardini reopen with their first exhibition since closure due to the pandemic. The display is dedicated to Florentine painter, illustrator and ceramist, Galileo Chini, who was a leading Italian exponent of Liberty style and a master interpreter of the art nouveau. Over 200 pieces will make up the show, featuring works by the artist as well as pieces that inspired him and were inspired by him. His path intertwined with the likes of Auguste Rodin and Gustav Klimt, Max Klinger, Ferdinand Hodler, William de Morgan, Aubrey Beardsley, and Gaetano Previati, with the display focusing on the artistic period following World War 1.
Villa Bardini, costa San Giorgio 2-4, Florence
From vintage to crafts
The Nataleperfile Christmas market at Palazzo Corsini (lungarno Corsini 8) raises funds for FILE, a charity that supports the seriously ill and their families. From 11am to 7pm, December 9-12, purchase a buffet lunch and select from the range of products on sale, from clothes to accessories, cosmetics to books and, of course, traditional Christmas cakes, all for a good cause. A sure sign of the festive season’s arrival is the traditional market, Weihnachtsmarkt, which pops up in piazza Santa Croce each year. Filled with food stalls and festive accoutrements until December 19, it’s a chance to sip mulled wine and savour the treats on offer while picking up a few gifts. The Pimp my Vintage Christmas Market will be back from 12.30 to 8.30pm on December 5 at The Student Hotel (viale Lavagnini 70-72), selling vintage goods, brunch, crafts and sustainable goods. At the same location, the Gran Bazar Xmas Market will be held from 11am to 9pm on December 11-12, with vintage, handmade products, design, vinyl, illustrations and more for sale. The Il Lavoratorio Vintage Christmas Market takes place from December 10 to 12 (via Giovanni Lanza 64), as the cultural space fills with treasures in support of the centre’s activities. Natale in Villa is on from 10.30am to 7.30pm on December 4-5 (Villa Gerini Colonnata, viale XX Settembre 259, Sesto Fiorentino), with an artisanal market exhibition accompanied by choral music, nativity scenes, Santa Claus, food trucks, guided tours of the villa, and the Voa Voa Association Amici di Sofia present as guests. Free admission; info at [email protected]. The annual Christmas Market in aid of the Associazione Toscana Tumori will be held on December 11-12 at the Hotel Albani Firenze (Via Fiume, 12), where you can purchases clothes, jewellery, food and wine with funds going towards supporting cancer patients and their families.
Dine in spectacular surroundings all for a good cause
The 'Paolo and Friends' charity dinner is hosted at the spectacular Four Seasons Hotel Firenze on December 12, with proceeds going to the Patrizio Cipollini Foundation. The four-course menu will be curated by the Executive Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Firenze; Paolo Lavezzini, together with Riccardo Monco; Executive Chef of Enoteca Pinchiorri, Andrea Mattei; Executive Chef of the Bistrot Restaurant, and Loretta Fanella; award-winning Pastry Chef. During the event, there will be a charity auction with stays at the most beautiful Four Seasons in Europe and many other prizes up for grabs. 300 euro per person, 4-course menu, wines included.
Four Seasons Firenze, Borgo Pinti 99
On December 5 Florentine civic museums and Palazzo Medici Riccardi will be free for residents of Florence, as well as a number of guided visits and activities. Upon reservation, there will be tours in Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Santa Maria Novella, the Murate complex, the Auschwitz Memorial and the Museo Novecento. On the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri (1321-2021), Dante-themed walks in the historic centre and a themed visit to Santa Maria Novella are also available. Activities dedicated to children are also on offer. For info and to book see here, or call T: 055 2768224
From December 3-5, The French Dispatch comes to the big screen. Wes Anderson’s latest release explores the story of Arthur Howitzer Jr., the son of the founder and owner of The Evening Sun newspaper in Liberty (Kansas). He convinces his father to finance a Sunday supplement that he sets up in the editorial office in Ennui-sur-Blasé, where his coverage of the French countryside instigates a series of dramas. Starring Bill Murray, Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Léa Seydoux, Benicio del Toro and more. House of Gucci makes its highly anticipated debut in Italy from December 15. The film by Ridley Scott starring Lady Gaga comes features a stellar cast that includes Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto and Salma Hayek. The tumultuous events of the famous Gucci family and the murder of the founder’s grandson, the Florentine Guccio Gucci, are at the centre of the fashion-and drama-filled plot. David Lynch’s masterpiece, Mulholland Drive is shown in 4K glory in a fully restored screening at 9pm on December 7. The important work starring Naomi Watts and Laura Harring begins in the desert before heading into the wealthy neighbourhoods of Los Angeles and the Malibu coast. Lynch’s dreamlike and enigmatic style suspends viewers between hallucination and reality, with a touch of nostalgia for the noir of the 1940s. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of one of the most successful films of the 21st century, Chris Columbus’ adaptation of JK Rowling’s best-selling book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone comes to the big screen with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint starting out on their saga at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on December 8, 9, 11 + 12.
On December 9, at 6.30pm, the annual Mass of the Virgin of the Guadalupe will be held at Ognissanti Church. The service and celebratory concert will be led by Father Giuseppe Caro, in the presence of Cosimo di Nocera, Honorary Consul General of Mexico, with music played by the Mariachi “Il Magnifico” and the Orchestra Regionale Scolastica Toscana. The program features Thaïs Meditation for Violin, Orchestra and Massenet, performed by soloist Leone Pini, and Karl Jenkins’ Palladio, performed by soloist Tommaso Pannacci. This event is hosted by Caravaggio & Contemporary, Jane Adams, Roberta Lapucci and Anita Evi to promote the latest of the ongoing restoration projects carried out at Ognissanti Church, a large painting of St Francis receiving the Stigmata, in partnership with the Frati Minori Francescani of Tuscany and under the direction of Dr. Maria Pia Zaccheddu and Dr. Anna Floridia, who are responsible for the Superintendence for the Architectural, Landscape and Cultural Heritage of Florence. This restoration follows the successful recent completion and unveiling of the terracotta sculpture of St. Francis and St. Dominic embraced by an Angel, which can now be admired in the recently restructured Alcantara Chapel.
The American International League of Florence hosts a mini Christmas bazaar at the Sala Ex Leopoldine (piazza Tasso 7) from December 4-6. Opening times are from 1-7pm on December 4, 9am-7pm on Dec. 5, and 9am-1pm on Dec. 6. Clothing, jewellery, bric and brac, books, accessories and Christmas decorations will be on sale, all in support of charity.
A showcase by Emily Rogers will be held at Il Conventino, via Giano Bella 20, from 7pm on December 4, where the artist's portraits and landscapes will be on display. There will also be a live jazz band, and Christmas treats and drinks.
The St. James Church (via Rucellai 9) hosts a Christmas raffle organized with the Quirky Quilters and Il Club del Punto e Croce needlewomen, who have donated creations to raise funds for selected charities. Expect quilts, cushions, samplers and many other items, with tickets available to purchase at the St. James church office (one ticket for five euro and three for 10 euro). The Children’s Lending Library holds a Christmas party from 4 to 6pm on Dec 11 for members only with sign up possible at the door. Reservation required. Contact [email protected] or see the Facebook page.
La Fierucola ([email protected]) host their popular food- and craft-filled markets from 9am-7pm on December 8 at piazza Santissima Annunziata, 8am-1pm on Dec. 12 in piazza del Carmine, and 9am-7pm, Dec. 19 in piazza Santissima Annunziata.
The Circolo Ricreativo Culturale (via di Pulicciano 53, Antella, Bagno a Ripoli) is now showing movies in English with Italian subtitles at 6pm on several Saturdays. See the programme.
Lady Ripple host a Christmas Pop-up on December 3 at Atelier Parfumiere, via del Sole 6R from 2.30 to 7.30pm, selling their full jewellery collection and bee-inspired pieces.
Santa Claus visits Baby Bottega at via del Prato 55r on December 4 from 10am to 7pm. Booking required by calling 055 286091.
Female Artisans Florence fill their space at borgo San Frediano 131 with a Christmas temporary shop selling quality artworks and contemporary crafts from December 1 to 23, opening hours 10am to 1pm and 3.30-7pm. Email [email protected] or see the @fafcraftwomen Facebook page and @femaleartsinflorence on Instagram.
St Mark’s English Church host the Armchair Drama Club at 8pm on December 7, while Dec. 8 sees a wreath-making afternoon with refreshments and perhaps a carol or two (suggested donation: 10 euro). 7pm on Dec. 10 is an evening of oratorios with Manon Gleizes, soprano, and James Short, piano. 6pm, Dec. 16, will be ‘An Evening in Sicily’ as Baret Magarian interviews author Jamie Mackay to discuss his recent book, The Invention of Sicily. The Christmas concert will be held at 4.30pm, Dec. 18, while the Carol Service will be 4.30pm, Dec. 19. Carolling around the Oltrarno neighbourhood takes place from 6pm, Dec. 21. Find info here.
The British Institute of Florence (www.britishinstitute.it / [email protected]) hold the Wednesday Lecture Series at 6pm in person at the Harold Acton Library (lungarno Guicciardini 9) and online via Zoom. This month features a lecture by Laura Llewellyn on Benozzo Gozzoli on Dec. 8. At 5.30pm on Dec. 2, there’s the chance to meet Sarah Winman, the author of Still Life. A Christmas fair will be held from 3.30pm on Dec. 10, with books, handmade gifts, goodies and refreshments, while at 6pm on Dec. 15, there will be an Xmas Concert in collaboration with St. Mark’s Choir.
An Irish (Christmas) Night takes place at Renny Club Firenze (via Francesco Baracca 1) from 8pm on December 4, in collaboration with IRIS Irish Dance Academy and the Willos’ traditional music group. Info and reservations by December 2 to [email protected]
Christmas gifts for a child in need: take a box and pack it with a Christmas message, something sweet, a new toy or book, and specify what age the gift is suited for. Deliver by December 18 to your local collection point to spread some Christmas cheer. (055 667707 / [email protected]).