HomeJournalWhy Visit Now: Florence
28 Apr, 2024

Why Visit Now: Florence

Author
Angelo Zinna
Angelo Zinna, Florence-based writer/photographer, authored 'Un Altro Bicchiere di Arak,' contributes to Lonely Planet, BBC, New Lines, Condé Nast Traveler, and has explored Europe, Asia, Oceania, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

At its core, Florence has managed to maintain its Renaissance soul intact over centuries. Yet, this historic city is far from static. How to manage the constant flow of visitors — millions reach the city each year — remains a key topic of conversation among Florentines, who find themselves relying on tourism while facing the consequences of its excesses.

While restrictions on short-term apartment rentals are being gradually implemented, the announcement of a new airport, crowned with a vineyard rooftop, is a bold testament to Florence's desire to maintain its position as one of Italy’s top destinations.

In this context, the city is constantly renewing itself through events and openings that extend its reach beyond first-time visitors who arrive to check out their guidebook classics, offering reasons to return at every season. 

1. Corridoio Vasariano Reopens to the Public

The Corridoio VasarianoThe Corridoio Vasariano linking Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti is set to reopen to the public in 2024. [Photo: Shutterstock]

One of the most awaited openings in the art world will finally take place in 2024 after many years of delays. Corridoio Vasariano, the elevated corridor designed by architect Giorgio Vasari for the Medici family in 1565 to connect Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti has been shut for renovation since 2016. After over eight years of work, the space is set to reopen to the public in May, adding to the Uffizi Galleries museum offering.

The corridor runs for approximately one kilometer above the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River and will allow visitors to reach the Boboli Gardens from the Uffizi, with views from its 72 windows that promise to match the art on show. The space will exhibit Uffizi's collection of ancient Greek and Roman marble epigraphs, plus a series of 16th-century frescoes that once adorned the exterior walls near the Boboli Gardens.

2. Firenze Rocks for Headbanging

Florence’s live music scene is not great during most of the year, but things change in summer when the Firenze Rocks stage is set up in the Cascine Park, the city’s green lung a short walk from the city center. The music festival held in the Visarno Arena has been running since 2017, growing to become one of the largest rock events in Italy with half a million tickets sold each year. Previous headliners have included Aerosmith, System of a Down, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Guns ’n’ Roses, The Cure and Green Day. The full program for the coming edition of Firenze Rock is yet to be fully revealed, although Tool has already been announced as the headliner for 2024.

3. Pitti Uomo Brings Men’s Fashion to Town

Pitti UomoOne of Italy’s major fashion events, Pitti Uomo adds a touch of color to Florence’s typically gloomy winters. [Photo: Tania Volobueva]

One of Italy’s most important fashion events takes place each year in January in Florence. Pitti Uomo is the leading international men's fashion fair that brings together the best clothing brands from around the world at Florence’s Fortezza da Basso. Now at its 105th edition, Pitti Uomo attracts well-known brands and emerging designers to the massive exhibition space that functioned as a defensive fortress in the 16th century. Walk around Florence during the days when the event is held and you’ll notice immediately how the city seems to be stepping up its elegance. But Pitti is not just an opportunity for people watching or networking between industry insiders — during the week when the fair takes place, exclusive parties and many side events liven up the city at a time when tourism is typically slow. You just need to know the right people to get in.

4. Endlessly Flowing Chianti

The Chianti Classico Collection wine fair makes its grand return to Florence in 2024, showcasing the latest offerings from the renowned Gallo Nero label at the Stazione Leopolda events space. This prestigious event, spanning two days, is an exclusive opportunity for industry professionals and enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the world of fine Tuscan wines. Attendees will have the unique chance to meet over 200 producers, each presenting their exquisite vintages under the Chianti Classico designation.

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Stretching south of Florence into the province of Siena, the Chianti Classico region is vastly diverse despite its relatively small surface area.

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A serene evening in Tuscany, with a bottle of Chianti wine, overlooking the timeless landscape of rolling hills and historic stone buildings. [Photo: Nik Hoberg]

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Wine has been a staple in Florence since the Middle Ages and continues to be celebrated today as an important part of Tuscany’s culture. [Photo: Federico Magonio]

Production here is strictly regulated to preserve the centuries-old winemaking tradition and allow for quality wines to represent the territory — only wines made following the rules can carry the black rooster, the symbol of Chianti Classico, on their label. By participating in Florence’s largest wine fair you’ll get to learn all the different facets of this cultural icon.

Photo by Johny Goerend on UnsplashTuscan Italian vineyard landscape at sunset. [Photo: Johny Goerend]

5. A Week for Cocktails

Over the past decade, Florence has grown to become one of Italy’s cocktail cities, following in the footsteps of larger metropolises such as Rome and Milan. Bars such as Locale, which has recently entered the World’s 50 Best Bars list, Bitter Bar and Gucci Giardino 25 have added a new layer of flavor to the city primarily known for its wine and negroni. Now, a week-long event celebrates such dedication to mixology in April.

The eighth edition of Florence Cocktail Week is coming up, with hotel bars and independent cocktail bars presenting their most creative ideas in selected venues scattered around the city. Parties, masterclasses and uniquely designed cocktail lists will allow you to discover Florence’s nightlife through the skill of the city’s bartenders.

6. Back to the Classics with Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

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Zubin Mehta conducts Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra [Photo: Barone Firenze]

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In 2014, Teatro del Maggio Musicale officially replaced Florence’s former city theater. The new 1890-seat hall now hosts a rich program of opera and classical music performances throughout the year, although the most important events are concentrated between April and June when the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival takes place. The festival tributes an ancient celebration held in Florence during the Middle Ages when music used to be performed to welcome spring and wish for a good harvest. Since 1933, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino has attracted classical music enthusiasts to Florence — with the new, larger theater, the festival has grown larger and the program even fuller of national and international stars.

7. Alphonse Mucha’s Art Nouveau

Czech artist Alphonse MuchaMuseo degli Innocenti brings the work of Alphonse Mucha to Florence for the first time in 2024. [Photo: Shutterstock]

A new exhibition curated by Tomoko Sato and Francesca Villanti brings the iconic work of Czech painter and illustrator Alphonse Mucha to Florence for the first time. Hosted by the Museo degli Innocenti inside the 15th-century orphanage designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in Piazza Santissima Annunziata, the show traces the wide-ranging career of the Art Nouveau pioneer known for his sensual portraits and graphic posters.

Mucha reached global fame with his 1894 poster representing Sarah Bernhardt in the play "Gismonda," which captured the public imagination with its enchanting portrayal of the famed actress and led the way for the Art Nouveau movement to flourish at the turn of the 20th century. His influence extended well beyond posters, including decorative advertisements and currency designs, embodying the Art Nouveau ethos that art should be a part of everyday life. “Alphonse Mucha. La seduzione dell’Art Nouveau,” organized under the patronage of the Municipality of Florence and the Embassy of the Czech Republic, offers a comprehensive view of the eclectic production of this visionary artist.

8. The Tour de France departs from Piazzale Michelangelo

 Tour de France The Tour de France will depart from Florence’s Piazzale Michelangelo in late June — an event much awaited by the many Tuscan cycling fans. [Photo: Shutterstock]

For the first time in Italy’s history, the Tour de France, one of the world’s most important sporting events, will depart from Florence. Thousands of fans will gather in one of the city’s most picturesque squares, Piazzale Michelangelo, on 29 June 2024 to see cycling champions and their teams depart with enchanting city views in the background.

This will be the 25th time the Tour de France will begin outside of French borders in its 121 years of history and the first time the competition will start in Italy. Tuscany’s long-standing relationship with cycling makes this occurrence even more important for locals, who remember the exploits of Florentine champions such as Gastone Nencini and Gino Bartali in the early days of the sport.

9. A Game of Violence: Calcio Storico Fiorentino

As per tradition, Piazza Santa Croce will transform into a sand arena in June to host the annual Calcio Storico Fiorentino tournament. The event, which sees four historic Florentine neighborhoods compete against each other in a series of brutal “historical soccer” matches is a reenactment of the legendary “game of the siege” that happened in 1530 when Florentines continued to play despite being invaded by the army of Charles V. Today, Calcio Storico is one of the most awaited events of the year.

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At Piazza Santa Croce

The city awaits a new Calcio Storico tournament, where Florence’s historic districts compete in a gruesome game blending soccer, rugby and boxing. [Photo: Shutterstock]

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Drummers in Medieval Garb

A vibrant procession of drummers in traditional medieval garb brings history to life, marching through Florence for the annual Calcio Storico Fiorentino tournament. [Photo: Shutterstock]

About 4,000 people gather in Piazza Santa Croce to see the four teams representing historic districts — the Whites of Santo Spirito, the Blues of Santa Croce, the Reds of Santa Maria Novella, and the Greens of San Giovanni — fight for the winning title over three weekends in June. The final has been traditionally held on St John’s Day (24 June), but in 2024 it will take place earlier, on 15 June, to not overlap with the local elections.

10. Creative Stars of Fine Dining

With seven Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, there is no shortage of options when it comes to top-notch dining. Historic venues like Osteria Pinchiorri, with many years of boasting its three Michelin stars, are now rivaled by a new generation of sophisticated eateries placing creativity first. Saporium, in the San Niccolò district, opened in 2023 under the guidance of chef Ariel Hagen and in just a year has made a name for itself thanks to its dedication to using only hyperlocal ingredients in its menu. Another recent addition to the high-end Florentine restaurant scene is Gucci Osteria, offering a gastronomic experience developed by none other than Massimo Bottura together with resident chefs Karime Lopez and Takahiko Kondo. Housed inside the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia, this restaurant is as much about aesthetics as it is about taste — as it could only be expected by a Gucci-branded osteria. ||