Festa della Donna: where and how to celebrate

Festa della Donna: where and how to celebrate

March 8 is International Women’s Day.

Mon 27 Feb 2023 2:11 PM

Each year on March 8, Italians put their own twist on International Women’s Day, giving fragrant bunches of yellow mimosa flowers to the women in their lives as a sign of sisterhood and support. Beyond bouquets, there are museum openings, mimosa-themed bakes, cocktails and more to mark the occasion. Here’s our pick of the best ways to celebrate Festa della Donna this year.

The history of International Women’s Day goes back much further than most might imagine, with hazy origins dating back to female workers rights’ campaigns in early 20th century America. By 1911, momentum had caught on across the pond and vast feminist rallies were taking place throughout Europe. Italy was a little slower and it wasn’t until 1946 that things really took hold. Allegedly, feminists Rita Montagnana and Teresa Mattei started handing out branches of flowering mimosas to other women as a symbol of togetherness. They chose the mimosa for its democratic appeal: wild, joyous, free to forage from hedgerows and parks, and bright in colour. In the gardens across Florence (most notably, Boboli and the Rose Garden) mimosa bushes are in full bloom around this time, filling the city with their scent. The mimosa tradition stuck. Nowadays, shopfronts, restaurants and florists are adorned with mimosa flowers. Their perfume is delicious, and it’s a hopeful statement in a country that could do considerably more for women’s issues.

Say it with flowers

Mimosa blossoms

You’ll find simple and affordable bunches of mimosas for sale in Mercato Sant’Ambrogio in the days running up to March 8 as well as a pop-up florist van for the day in Santo Spirito. Charming old florist I Fiori della Signoria (via della Condotta 27R) does a great job of kitting out the storefront with blossoming mimosas, while picturesque Flower Art Creation (via Senese 41R), near Porta Romana, do tasteful bouquets combining mimosas with other seasonal flowers. Fiorile (via Santo Spirito 26R) make a striking bouquet of mimosas and purple irises, perfect for a special gift.

Let them eat cake

Pasticceria Gualtieri dal 1933 mimosa cake for Ukraine

Even more fun than giving and receiving flowers, however, is the array of baked goodies and sweets inspired by the mimosa tradition. Pasticceria Buonamici in San Frediano, S.forno in Santo Spirito and Pasticceria Gualtieri dal 1933 in Porta Romana all have their own versions of a mimosa cake, usually some version of a sweet yellow sponge topped with more cake crumbs to create the illusion of mimosa flowers. If cake isn’t your thing, then make a beeline to Gelateria de’ Medici (piazza Beccaria) to try their special mimosa-flavoured gelato.

Treat the ladies in your life to a cocktail

A refreshing mix of Champagne (or prosecco) and orange juice, the mimosa cocktail is as iconic as the flower. This will be on the menu all day at Café Lunetta (via Sant’Agostino 34R), a charming little spot that has recently opened just off piazza Santo Spirito. The enthusiastic owners also devised a special Festa della Donna-themed sweet treat to mark the occasion, with details to be revealed nearer the time.

Get political

Antonella Bundu

Want an alternative to flowers and yellow cupcakes? Activist and member of the Florence city council Antonella Bundu will be hosting a live speaker and apericena event organized by the Women’s International Network of Florence at Palazzo San Niccolò on March 8. As the first Black Italian to run for mayor in any major Italian city, Bundu found her political voice in the aftermath of a racially motivated killing in Florence. Guests can expect a fascinating dialogue about identity, her experiences as a Black Italian and the country’s racial history, and working for justice and equality, as well as a Q&A and chance to network with other WIN members.

Soak up some free culture

Museo Novecento during a former installation

As in previous years, many museums across Florence and the rest of Italy open their doors for free to women throughout the day on Tuesday March 8. In Florence, free museums for women for one day only include the Uffizi, Bargello, the Medici Chapels, Palazzo Pitti and Museo Novecento.

Discover a female painter

Villa La Quiete

Also on the subject of art is an event hosted by three female American philanthropists, Kate Wilson, Kathryne Burke and Suzanne Frank, who are working to give a platform to a previously little-known female painter. The restored 17th-century painting by Ortensia Fedeli will be unveiled at Villa La Quiete (via di Boldrone 2), which is a blueprint of the history of the House of Medici, devotion and girls’ education. The presentation will highlight the role that these American women have played in supporting the recovery of old Florentine art and art by women artists, which is only now being studied and receiving the appreciation it deserves.

International Women’s Month at the Hard Rock Cafe

Extend your celebrations throughout the month at the Hard Rock Cafe. Kicking March off with a live music performance by Serena Carradori and Davide Gobello on March 3. This musical duo will play covers of both Italian and international songs for everyone to enjoy. Next in the lineup, the Hard Rock will celebrate March 8 with a performance by Italian Women Tribute (special dinner menu available). This trio is the first and only rock tribute band that is dedicated to great Italian women’s voices. Book now.

Segue to March 10 with a performance from the 1980s cover band 80Voglia.

Hotel Savoy + Jo Malone fragrances

One of Florence’s chicest bars Irene Bar at Hotel Savoy joins the British fragrance and lifestyle brand Jo Malone for a cocktail hour. On the evening of March 8, expect luxurious cocktails and small bites as well as the chance to discover Jo Malone’s palette of alluring scents. The costs of the event is 18 euro and will include a cocktail and finger food. As a small souvenir, guests will be gifted a small perfume and a 20-minute massage experience at the Jo Malone store in Florence.

Book your spot at: irenefirenze@roccofortehotels.com.

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