Autumn ushers in a packed calendar of events, with the city’s cultural scene never ceasing.
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Here’s our round-up for October, 2023.
Florence Biennale inaugurates its 14th edition, titled I Am You: Individual and Collective Identities in Contemporary Art and Design, as over 600 exhibiting artists from five continents present their ideas on identity at the Fortezza da Basso from October 14 to 22. The very essence of being human in all its philosophical, psychological and cultural forms is the theme for this edition, with the diversity of artists guaranteeing a range of insights and artistic methods spread across the 11,000 square meters of exhibition space.
32 venues host 44 events involving 29 cultural institutions as the city’s museums, galleries and more pack with an incredible array of displays. With venues such as the Uffizi Galleries, Museo Novecento, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Istituto degli Innocenti and MAD Murate Art District included in the intriguing calendar, high-calibre exhibitions spread across Florence, with rare opportunities such as the Ferragamo Archives opening up to the public.
A solo exhibition by the renowned Lithuanian artist comes to the gallery on via di Mezzo, with works inviting visitors on a reflective journey of rediscovery, exploring childhood innocence as contrasted with our complex, changing urban landscapes.
Two Tuscan artists, Sigfrido Bartolini and Venturino Venturi, portray Carlo Collodi’s iconic Pinocchio, with the exhibition marking the 140th anniversary of the serial publication of Pinocchio, whose first 15 chapters appeared in the children’s magazine Giornale per i Bambini.
Stefano Chiassai’s visual diary is a series of unpublished drawings created by the artist from 2020 to 2023, with drawings accompanied by fabrics, tapestries and objects of design where shapes, patterns and figures form the site-specific project.
Exhibitors from all over Europe gather to honour the ancient art of ceramics. The international fair with contemporary works includes functional ware, decorative objects, sculpture and jewellery. Ceramists will also lead workshops for children, with no shortage of organic food and wine stalls.
60 mixed media artworks celebrate the sights and sounds of the many different countries where the artist, Lolita Valderrama Savage, has lived. Born in Manila, Philippines, the works also portray scenes from Stamford, Sweden and Tuscany, with oil paintings, watercolours and drawings making up the show.
The third edition of the fest features varied activities and workshops, from tai chi to tea ceremonies, with participation in Confucius Institute Day on September 30. The title means varieties of blooming flowers, giving rise to screenings of everything from Chinese science fiction to animation by Liu Jian.
The master of Futurism, Fortunato Depero (1892-1960), gets a dedicated display for the first time in Florence. Curated by Sergio Risaliti and Eva Francioli, pieces such as Nitrito in velocità will be on loan from the Museo Novecento, alongside around 50 other works. 20th-century paintings and drawings are displayed, as is the magnificent tapestry depicting the Cavalcata Fantastica, evoking Florence’s rich Renaissance tradition of textile art.
Founded in 2022, the fest is the largest film event of its kind in Italy, with a vast programme of films focusing on LGBTQIA+ issues. From cinema and video to theatre, photography and literature, the line-up is always interesting.
On display from October 7 to February 4, the Untrue Unreal exhibition sees some of Kapoor’s previous work take on new meaning in the historic setting, alongside more recent work that expresses his characteristic themes of dualism and the blurring of boundaries. Various media are used in the diverse sculptures featuring a range of materials, from steel and stone to wax and silicone. Sculpture and environment overlap in an immersive experience that invites a questioning of perceptions of physical reality and proposes to transcend materiality, with visitors compelled to question their senses.
The Renaissance courtyard of the palazzo housing the Roberto Casamonti Collection sees a site-specific creation by Felice Limosani, titled Pezzi di Pace (Pieces of Peace). The historical architecture will be contrasted by a dramatic obelisk rising up to the height of the arches, pointing towards the sky while suspended above a body of water.
Admire over 30 works partly inspired by the Temptations of Saint Anthony on the ground floor of the Museo Novecento. The London-born artist resident in New York reinvents the relationship between contemporary art and the great figurative art of past centuries, with the exhibition continuing in Palazzo Vecchio with the exhibition of a new work inside Bianca Cappello’s Camerino, one of the most charming and least-known places in the palace.
Drawings, etchings, photographs and paintings provide a sense of the art historian’s intellectual process.
Drawings, etchings, photographs and paintings provide a sense of the art historian’s intellectual process.
The iconic images by the Czech artist come to the historic space, with his Mucha inspired by actress Sarah Bernhardt, an image well-known for having been used in countless advertising campaigns, making the works instantly recognizable.
Head to the “haunted house” of the 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino for “the weirdest party you’ve ever been to”. Taking place from 8pm to 1am, October 31, 25 euro includes drink + buffet + DJ set. The best fancy dress wins a one-night stay at a 25hours Hotel of their choice. Find out more: @25hourshotel_florence
Bordering between cinema and visual arts, the works by Marcon investigate the relationship between reality and moving images, with the title chosen to reflect a combination of confectionary sweetness and ice-cold.
The five-star setting hosts a weekend dedicated to exceptional supercars in collaboration with Canossa Events, a leading company in the organization of road-tour events, combining high-level hospitality, a fine dining brunch in the hotel, and iconic collector’s supercars from the 1990s and 2000s. Price of public entry, 250 euro per person
Cinema, documentaries, photography, comics, music, food and more bring audiences closer to the Middle East in the 14th edition of the festival. Highlights include the Landing exhibition by Palestinian photographer and skater Maen Hammad at the Museo Novecento from October 14 to November 29, with special guest Saghar Setareh presenting her book Pomegranates & Artichokes: A Food Journey from Iran to Italy as part of the programme.
Gen Z take note! There’s a dedicated festival to Generation Z with guests, singers, YouTubers, performers and more in programming that forms part of the European Year of Skills, promoted by the European Commission. The event also provides an opportunity to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Italian Constitution, focusing on issues such as the right to work, the importance of respecting freedoms and human rights.
Classical music and contemporary art combine at the venue in piazza del Carmine, with special guests Salvatore Sciarrino, Pier Narciso Masi and Enrico Dindo. Under the artistic direction of the internationally renowned flautist, Mario Ancillotti, concerts, shows, and meetings with the musicians bring young people closer to classical music with 5-euro entry for students.
Rossella Levi will read from Fra Storia e Memoria: Una Famiglia Ebraica Triestina dal 1938 al Secondo Dopoguerra alongside English translations by Johanna Bishop on October 19 at 5pm in the Reading Room (Salone di Lettura), with an introduction by library director Luca Faldi, the director of the library.
Experimental music and a plurality of places and themes makes this music fest one not to miss, with a tribute this year to Cathy Berberian. Listening sessions are held in venues such as the Cascine, the Misericordia park in Borgo San Lorenzo, the Gabinetto Vieusseux and Villa Favard.
To celebrate Dreoni toy store’s 100-year anniversary, the store on via Cavour displays an exhibition on vintage toys, with a free admission party from 10am to 7pm on October 7-8, at via the Carrozze Gallery, with play activities, challenges, shows and workshops to entertain all ages.
The third edition of the theatre festival for both children and adults features ghouls, ghosts, wolves, witches and more in the line-up packed with shows, workshops, talks and street theatre across various venues in the city such as Libreria Alice, Le Murate complex, Gada Playhouse and the Rifredi Theatre.
LìLà Toy Store on via Maggio 78R launches its LìLà Lab at 10.30am on September 30 with a reading for children aged two years and over. On October 7, there’ll be a reading in English for kids, with October 14 + 21 seeing a crochet course for adults. October 28 is dedicated to games for kids aged six and older, with a Halloween event on October 31 from 4.30pm.
St. James Episcopal Church opens their Children’s Lending Library (via Bernardo Rucellai 9) on Thursdays (4.30-6.30pm) and Sundays (10.30am-12.30pm). The Thrift Shop Sale is held on the last Wednesday of the month, from 9.30-11.30am.
The Trio Interval performs Mozart and Mendelssohn on September 28 as part of the Mascarade Concert Season at Palazzo Corsini al Prato, followed by a Meet the Artists Opera Recital on October 5, with a varied programme spanning traditional music to much-loved arias to welcome the incoming Mascarade artists. Tickets give you access to the foundation and the glorious Corsini Gardens from 6pm, with a glass of wine. Concerts begin at 7pm + last about 60 minutes.
At 9pm on October 5, at Alice Libreria bookshop in The Social Hub there’ll be a ColoriAmo Workshop with Max Monteduro, with poetry and music on October 13. Sip & Paint is held on October 13+27, with a plant cutting workshop on October 15, followed by collage on October 19. October 26 sees ‘The Atlas of Desires’ show for children and an exhibition by La Piccionaia theatre company, with embroidery on October 28 and finally, a Halloween party for all ages on October 31. The first meeting of ABC – Alice Book Club takes place at 9pm on October 20, where a glass of wine or a cocktail can be sipped while exchanging views. This month’s choice is Strangers I Know by Claudia Durastanti (La Straniera, in Italian), with next month’s book to be chosen together.
The British Institute of Florence continues their Wednesday Lectures Series in Palazzo Lanfredini and online via Zoom with Fabrizio Ricciardelli on October 4, speaking about ‘The Grand Tour and Beyond: The Paradigm of Florence’, followed by Paola D’Agostino on October 11, who will look at the Bargello, of which she is the director. On October 18, Linda Falcone speaks about ‘Female Forerunners: A Room of Their Own’, with Alan Pascuzzi on October 25 exploring ‘How they were seen – Sculpture’. The Music al British series features Phelan Burgoyne and Emanuele Maniscalco who will perform jazz on October 12, and Warwick Listen and James Gray on October 26 playing the Brahms Sonata No.3. John Hooper of The Economist will reflect on Giorgia Meloni’s first year on October 16.
SOTTO al British (lungarno Guicciardini 15), hosts brainstorming for writers led by Lori Hetherington at 7pm on October 17, while life drawing with Tom J.Byrne is held weekly on Mondays from 7-9pm.
St. Mark’s English Church Opera brings audiences to via Maggio 16 for The Barber of Seville on October 21, La Traviata from October 1-8, The Best of Giacomo Puccini on October 4, and Love Duets from October 6-13.
The Social Hub Florence Lavagnini hosts a vernissage of eclectic digital artworks by Maria Katharina Rauchenberger on October 14. The exhibition titled Wunder Hub uses contemporary communication tools that can be used both in person and remotely. On October 19, there’ll be a rooftop concert at sunset with noted Japanese pianist Aisa Ijiri broadcast live from Steinway Hall in New York City via Steinway’s Spirio piano, a debut performance in Italy for this innovative iPad-powered technology. October 29-November 5 sees The End of the World Festival by the inQuanto Teatro company, featuring four days of theatre, conversations, artistic workshops and shows.
Female Arts in Florence (Borgo San Frediano 131R) host Playdance on October 5, 12, 19 + 26, with workshops for kids on October 7+14. A handmade paper workshop will be held on October 7, with one dedicated to natural dyes on October 14, and an aperitivo to get to know the artisans on the same day. A ceramics course takes place on October 15, with watercolours on October 21, and a workshop on self-awareness on October 25 as part of Eredità delle Donne.