A thousand and one white nights

Editorial Staff
May 5, 2011

The aftermath of this year's all-night party raises an important question: Does Florence really have what it takes to be an international cultural and creative hub, a place that the rest of the world can look to for inspiration, not just for one night but all year long?


Florence's White Night 2011 was organized around the idea of cultivating creativity and giving it a space in which to flourish. But the larger goal of White Night and of the Riverboom installation was giving Florence a new image-no longer a picture-postcard city or just the ‘cradle of the Renaissance,' but a city that nurtures creativity and dynamism, and in doing so sets standards for contemporary innovation in Italy, Europe and the world.


On the evening of April 30, some 100,000 people converged on Florence for the city's annual White Night. City officials claimed the dusk-to-dawn event was a smashing success, with its hundreds of events in 60 venues around the city.


Besides the lights along the lungarni and the outside spider web installation in the Palazzo Strozzi courtyard, perhaps the event that best exemplified the central theme was Riverboom's video projected on the facade of the basilica of Santo Spirito. In the video, Florence versus the World, images symbolic of the city, from its churches and monuments to its most well-known dishes, were juxtaposed with their global ‘counterparts': Florentine churches took on Arctic icebergs, bistecca took on fondue, the Venus took on the Mona Lisa, and so on.


This year's event is evidence that Florence has a vital creative community and that the city is willing to harness the power of this community to send an important message to the world. Nevertheless, the fact remains that White Night is a once-a-year event, and nearly every major city in Europe has one. Italy's most influential cities, for example, have one big event that keeps people talking all year through. For example, Milan has the Salone del Mobile, Venice has the Biennale and Film Festival. Even Cortona hosts the rich and famous at the Tuscan Sun Festival.


Does Florence have the ‘right stuff' to be a creative leader all year long? Send your thoughts to [email protected].


more articles