Summer music festivals in Florence 2012

Songs of summer

Oonagh Stransky
May 24, 2012

New Jersey, summer, late 1970s: heat wave, gas shortages, tube tops, soccer shorts, Pel?, Bjorn Borg, teenage awkwardness. I'm stuck in the back of my grandmother's VW hatchback with my two brothers. Literally stuck: the backs of my thighs are glued to the seat with sweat. We stop at the A&P for groceries but I don't want to go in, don't care about the air conditioning or helping out, would rather sit in the sweltering heat of the parking lot with the windows down and the crackly old Blaupunkt radio playing WPLJ. And then it comes on: the song that made Patti Smith famous and the one with which Italians identify her. ‘Because the Night' is about passion, pain and poetry, a gift for anyone with a teenage soul. And a quintessential summer song. Speaking of summer songs, Patti Smith usually performs somewhere in Tuscany during the season, and this year is no exception: on July 26, she'll be near Arezzo for the OrientOccidente festival ( But if you can't make it, don't fret. There are lots more summer songs and festivals coming our way.


Festival del Maggio Musicale FiorentinoAs always, a top-notch, star-studded, sold-out program of events at this 75th edition of the Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. A range of events from May 17 to June 20 in venues across Florence. See TF 163 and for details.


MUV ‘Digital Renaissance' Electronic Music FestivalFrom May 29 to June 3 at the Fortezza da Basso and other sites in Florence. With experimental music and international DJs, this is a chance to let your hair down. See page 8 and for details.


Tuscan Sun FestivalHaving outgrown Cortona, but still hosted by Frances Mayes and company, this international celebration of the arts and the Tuscan lifestyle is now ready for the big city. Held at various venues in Florence from June 11 to 18, it will also feature the first edition of the Firenze Tribeca Festival. Cool, right? See page 18 and for more.


Music Under the TowerEnjoy classical music in the classical setting of the cloisters of Pisa's Museo dell'Opera del Duomo at Music Under the Tower. Usually runs from the end of June to early July; check full schedule at (search ‘Musica sotto la torre').


Jazz Festival in FiesolePart of the Estate Fiesolana, with Gilberto Gil, Dave Holland and Eric Johnson, the summer program celebrating music, theater, dance and art. Be sure to attend at least one event, if only to enjoy the amphitheater and a cool breeze on a summer evening. From June 20 to July 27; see for more information.


Estate Fiesolana-Music, Dance, Theater, ArtThis is perhaps the best-known festival in the area and is famous for its rich calendar of events and international star lineup. Events are held in Fiesole, Vaglia and Florence from June 20 to July 27 this year. Details at


Melodia Del VinoBeautiful classical music concerts accompanied by fine wines in some of the most lovely and architecturally interesting wineries of the region. Festival runs from June 26 to July 7. If you have to choose just one, don't miss the final event at Petra in Suvereto. See more at


Prato's Festival delle CollineCelebrating its 33rd year, from June 24 to July 28, this popular festival in Prato features internationally renowned artists performing all'aperto. Music ranges from African rhythms to orchestral sounds. Find the complete schedule at


Lucca Summer Music FestA little something for everyone. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Norah Jones, Blink 182, Duran Duran and more, from June 29 to July 29. For details, see


Opera FestivalDon't let the name fool you, this festival offers much more than just opera, including Italian pop, dance and classical concerts. From June 29 to August 5, open-air opera perfomances of Aida and Carmina Burana alternate with concerts featuring contemporary Italian artists like Vinicio Capossela and Arisa. Venues in Florence and around Tuscany include the Boboli Gardens, San Galgano in Siena and Piazza Duomo in San Gimignano. See for complete schedule.


Vox Mundi FestivalJust when you were getting bored with the whole Tuscan thing, a marvelous variety of international world music comes to Magliano from June 30 to August 3. See for details.


La Versiliana FestivalCatch contemporary artists on stage in venues along the Tuscan coast from Pietrasanta to Viareggio. Watch everything from dance to orchestra performances, music concerts to art shows July 1 to August 31. Full programme details are available at


Florence Youth Festival-International Festival of European Youth OrchestrasThis unique festival offers young European musicians a chance to play in magnificent venues. Concerts in the 14th edition will be held in Florence's Loggia dei Lanzi in piazza della Signoria and will star young musicians from South Korea, Ireland, Palestine and elsewhere from July 3 to August 3. See for complete program details.


Musicastrada A series of nearly 30 free concerts in towns around Pisa from July 13 to 27. From blues to jazz, from ethnic to folk, artists come from around the world. A photography competition, Fotografando la Musica, runs in conjunction with the festival and is open to all. See for more information and full schedule details.


Pistoia BluesWith B.B. King on stage, there ain't no reason to be blue. Paolo Nutini, Gov't Mule and music clinics top it off. Don't miss this weekend of blues July 13 to 15. Details at


Bolgheri MelodyA celebration of the arts and local wines along the Etruscan Coast. Explore a beautiful part of Tuscany with fabulous wines and fascinating wineries. This festival is a favorite with summer visitors and residents alike. Fill your goblets from July 18 to August 18. For more, see


Arezzo WaveYes, it's back. The prodigal child comes home to the small city with a big soul. With the main stage in the football stadium and two other stages around the city, this is sure to be a fun-filled weekend. Caparezza and Yann Tiersen, Crookers and Bandabardò, Malika Ayane and Nina Zilli, Fuel Fandango and Batida, Don Gallo and Dori Ghezzi: July 12 to 15. Details at


Sonoro Chamber Music FestivalA young, dynamic and innovative festival of chamber music festival originally from Bucarest comes to Arezzo for a series of superb concerts in magical places: May 23, 24 and 27. See the full program of events at


ESTATE FIORENTINAStay in town for the Estate Fiorentina 2012, where ballets and concerts by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino take center stage all summer. Catch concerts and shows at the Roman amphitheater of Le Cascine, Franchi Stadium, Le Murate, the Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera, and more. Check the Estate Fiorentina 2012 Facebook fan page for updates. Among the stars performing this summer in Florence are:


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Like Patti Smith and yours truly, another great reason to love the Garden State. June 10, Franchi Football Stadium, Florence


MADONNA: From the Superbowl to World Tour, give it up for the ‘other' virgin. June 16, Franchi Football Stadium, Florence


RADIOHEAD: The first leg of their Italian tour brings this rock band back to our city after much too long. Bentornati, now let's rock. July 1, Cascine Park, Florence


MORRISSEY: The uniquely mesmerizing sound of the Smiths comes to Florence via hardcore vegan diva, Moz. Don't miss it. July 11, Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera, Florence


ALANIS MORISETTE: Warbly, moody, dark and delightful. Take this pill. July 20, Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera, Florence

DAMIEN RICE: A rare chance to enjoy this singer-songwriter perform live in a perfect setting. July 28, Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera, Florence



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