When springtime in Florence is in full bloom, the city is a wellspring of ideas to spend your free time. Excite your senses or pique your interest with trips to art and craft exhibitions, film festivals and international events, wonderful tastings and outdoor events, and unforgettable leisurely tours of magnificent gardens. Need a few useful tips to help you decide what to do in Florence in April?
Photo: Isabel Zuniga
CONTEMPORARY FILM AND ART
Florence’s Middle East Now, a festival about contemporary Middle Eastern culture and film, is in its seventh year. Happening in different Florentine movie theaters and locations from April 5 to 10, 2016, the Festival’s full roster of event includes 44 films and documentaries, mouthwatering culinary events, photography shows, meetings and talks on the hottest contemporary issues, featuring important guests, and, for the first time, a contemporary dance show. More information at: http://www.middleastnow.it/now/en/
The Belgian artist Jan Fabre will be showing his works in Florence in Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, starting April 15, and coming to Forte Belvedere in early May. Fabre is known as a multidisciplinary, innovative contemporary artist. For this exhibition, “Jan Fabre: Spiritual Guards”, he adopts varied artistic expressions, including bronze sculpture, beetle-shell installations, wax works, and theater performances. It is sure to be an interesting juxtaposition between Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, and contemporary works set in its historical places, amidst permanent works and frescoes in its museums.
In keeping with Jan Fabre’s upcoming presence in Florence, we suggest “From Kandinsky to Pollock. The Art of the Guggenheim Collections,” which is still going on, having opened last March 19 at Palazzo Strozzi. The show, going until next July 24, brings together over 100 masterpieces from the Guggenheim collections of 20th-century European and American art, from the 1920s to the 1960s.
GELATO FESTIVAL AT PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO
It’s just 20 days until the Gelato Festival, the most lip-smacking traveling Italian food event of the year that will sweeten your taste buds from April 21-25 from 12:00 am to 10:00 pm at Piazzale Michelangelo before moving on to the gelato shops of other major Italian cities. Did you know that it was Bernardo Buontalenti, a famed architects, sculpture, painter, military engineer, and set designer from Florence, in the service of the Medici family, who gave his name to the famous gelato flavor Buontalenti? Come and try this special recipe, or over 100 gelato flavors made specifically for the festival, while enjoying the most breathtakingly sweeping view of Florence below!
Another great event in the magnificent setting of Piazzale Michelangelo is the exclusive opening of the Iris Garden, which after a year of closure, is set to reopen for a month – from April 25 to May 20 – from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm every day, including Saturday and Sunday, coinciding with the irises’ blooming. Also known in Italian as “giaggiolo,” in years of yore it grew in Florence’s hill and is the city’s traditional symbol (not the lily, as often said). Botany enthusiasts will have a chance like no other to admire its countless varieties and brilliant colors, whether natural or made from hybrids of this magical, regal flower.
The Italian Iris Society runs the garden, founded in 1959 in Florence to encourage the spread of iris cultivation through studies and initiatives. An international competition has been put on yearly since 1954 in which flower breeders from around the world compete with new iris specimen to achieve the color closest to carmine red, a challenge open to this day.
Or if you’d like a lovely picnic, relaxing break or romantic stroll, we suggest heading to the Rose Garden, also under Piazzale Michelangelo with a fabulous view over Florence. In April, the garden is open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, free admission.
Tepidarium Del Roster – photo by Stefania Napolitano
Be sure to check out the Festival of Flowers and Plants in the Horticultural Garden, open from April 23 to May 1. Admission to the fair is free and you can buy plants, all kinds of fruit trees and garden products while admiring a plethora of flowering species next to the picturesque Tepidarium Del Roster, a grandiose 19th-century heated greenhouse.
Horticulture Garden – photo by Stefania Napolitano
FINE SHOPPING AND THE WHITE NIGHT
If you love to shop for quality handicrafts, we suggest the International Exhibition of Crafts held at the Fortezza da Basso from April 23 to May 1. The exhibition is a one-of-a-kind showcase for exhibitors from throughout Italy’s regions and 50 foreign countries. To keep up to date about the exhibition: https://www.facebook.com/mostrartigianato
And mark your date books on April 30 for an extraordinary event, the “White Night.” Delve into Florence’s unique atmosphere for this all-night festival. Shops, museums, cafés and restaurants stay open late, knowing that the next day is May 1, International Workers’ Day, and everything will be closed. Concerts, events, and spectacular installations will keep Florence’s center abuzz and make for an unforgettable Florentine night like no other.
English translation by Miriam Hurley