Primo Maggio! No better way to kick off a month than when it falls on a public holiday, albeit one that is dedicated to such a noble cause — commemorating the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886 and the legal establishment of the 8-hour day (more info here). As you would expect, May 1st always feels quite festive as Italians are treated to two holidays in the span of a week and warm weather prevails bringing people out and about for plenty of passeggiata and garden visits around our (slowly this 2019) warming city.
We’re just coming up for air after a whirlwind past week with one of my closest friends based in Los Angeles, We spent our time together exploring the city, visiting the verdant hills of Val d’Orcia and a marbelicious adventure in the mountains of Carrara. There’s something so infinitely awesome about seeing your friend grow from a fellow study abroad student in Florence to a kickass adult that you still want to be around today.
In Florence, it is the ideal time to check out the city’s best green spaces such as the Giardino delle Rose (rose garden), Iris Garden by Piazzale Michelangelo, the wisteria at Villa Bardini and of course Pratolino Park– a relatively easy bus ride away on the 25A. Cascine, once a hunting ground for the illustrious Medici family of Florence gets less love, but remains the steadfast public park for the city and is a great place to plan a picnic or place to play in a pinch, though I personally very much love the gardens at Villa Strozzi (and they have a dog park).
This month’s link love from Italy and beyond
- Are you a great writer/translator and looking for work in Florence? You probably want to apply to this coveted jobat The Florentine.
- I love hearty Spring Tuscan soups because let’s face it, the weather be crazy, and Giulia’s shares this delicious versionwith fresh peas, fava beans, asparagus and artichokes.
- For anyone who loves wine and the enoteca vibe in Florence, my girl Curious Appetite has this list for youand the only one I’d personally add to this fabulous list is the epic Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina!
- I’m not a big fan of Airbnb (as it in my opinion changes the neighborhood from locals to tourist-only rentals and this article in the New Yorker touches on its effect in Barcelona.
- “Emiko Davies has that wonderful gift of making you want to rush straight into the kitchen. But perhaps not quite straight: I want to linger cosily with the book, with its beautiful pages of recipes and stories from her Italian family.” Beautiful words by the great Nigella Lawsonabout Tortellini at Midnight, my favorite new book this Spring!
- Coffee is pretty much the only naughty item I can enjoy these days (just one though a day) so Natalie’s suggestion on where to go near the Pantheonespecially for their granita di caffe is one I’m going to remember.
- This might explain why my French language learningisn’t going as quickly as I would want… 🙁
- Thank you ArtTrav for giving us THIS survival guideon visiting the Vatican Museums.
- Apparently, I need some lessons in Florentine sayings but if you speak Italian and want to see me in this fun TV show with RTV38 – here’s the link!
- Not having fun on vacation? I implore you, don’t lie about it.
Today is the last day to check out the ‘Mostra dei Fiori’ at the Giardino dell’Orticoltura, 10-7:30pm. This is always an institution for the May first ‘Ponte’ weekend is a delight for anyone who appreciates fresh Spring blooms and is close to piazza della liberta. They always have a wide range of plant species (over 60 sellers will be present) to gawk at and buy, I always love the giant basil or carnivorous plants (seriously). address: Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 17, 50139 Firenze.
Make sure to stop at the Iris Garden at Piazzale Michelangelo because it won’t be there for long. This botanical garden is famous for its wide variety of Irish flowers (also the symbol of Florence) open from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
May 2nd: The British Institute of Florence joins Maggio dei Librifor the national promotion of books and reading with a story in English for children. The author, Matilda Colarossi, will read some tales from Leonardo da Vinci codes that she has re-interpreted and simplified for children. Activities to follow. For children aged 7 and up, but all children are welcome!
For those who want to improve their Italian or simply just meet new people in Florence, I highly recommend attending the “Speakeasy multilingual chatroom game night”on May 3rdat Italian Tapas (Via Serragli). The linguistic libations take place from 9:30pm-12am. Free to go, bring a bottle or snack to share.
My friends at Relax Firenze are offering a great selection of deals for everything from massages to facial massages, to yoga to personal training sessions near Piazza della Repubblica this May and here’s more infoon all that is on offer.
This Saturday, May 4th, returns Storytellers in Florence with the theme of “date night”.As per usual it will take place at independent bookshop cafe Todo Modo (Via dei Fossi) starting at 7pm and ending at 9pm but this time we get the whole place to ourselves. You are more than welcome to just come and watch people share their stories. there will be a minimum participation fee of 10€ which will include a drink. Beyond the costs to keep Storytellers going, any proceeds from the entry fee will be donated to an organization that, if possible, will be related to the theme (this edition proceed will be donated to the Dynamo Camp. If you have a story to share based on this theme, be sure to contact Linda on Facebook or by email at email@example.com.
Street art in Fiesole! See this Etruscan hill top town’smore creative side in a “I Feel So” street art exhibition from 4pm onwards on May 4thfeaturing a new mural and kid’s print workshop in piazza Mino
Love Open Mic nights? Don’t miss the one held the first Friday of every month at Virgin Rock Pub, Via dell’Agnolo 78 (9:30-11:30pm), hosted by the lovely Patti DeRosa.
Embrace your love for vintage everything and activities for kids at the Visarno Market this May 4-5that Cascine Park (viale del Visarno 14) from 11-9pm.
The Florence cocktail week is BACK for a week dedicated to cocktails, coffee and other gourmet specialists from May 6-12th organized by Paola Mencarelli and Lorenzo Nigro featuring 30 hotspots around town with notable bartenders such as Ditta Artigianale, Mad: Souls & Spirits and Rasputin (classic bars too..) with custom cocktails including one that I can’t drink right but that you can and should. This brilliant event is now in its 4th edition and is dedicated to “Made in Florence” Get the scoop via their Facebook pageor https://www.florencecocktailweek.it/.
Join Warren Knight of Blu Knight Decor making the imperfect – perfect. Create comfort and warmth with seasonal palettes and balance in your own home. In today’s world of mixing what we have with something new, learn how to create a harmonious environment in one design workshop on May 7thhosted by the Cultural Salon of Florence. RSVP here.
I’m really quite excited about the new exhibition “Heroes: Bowie by Sukita” dedicated to David Bowie, an undisputed icon of pop culture, portrayed by a master of Japanese photography: Masatoshi Sukita (who was a personal friend of Bowie and features him in over 60 photos.) I first fell in a sort of trance over Bowie’s music myself due to an obsession with a dark European movie about drugs from 1981 called “Christiane F”. You can check out the exhibition at Palazzo Medici Riccardi on Via Cavour until June 28th.
While not exactly in the historical center, Pratolino park is one of the best green spaces in the vicinity of Florence and is well-worth a bus trip. The season opens on April 1st and will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday until October 28th (10am-8pm). address: Strada Provinciale della Casa Al Vento · Vaglia. Take ATAF bus #25A from Piazza San Marco.Every Tuesday in Florence, Patti deRosa hosts a special musical showcase open-mic at Il Toscanaccio in Piazza San Firenze at 9pm. It’s an open mike but also includes a special guest Artist every week. Follow their FB page and websiteto see more details. On May 8th, the guest artist will be Giampiero Erre.
The next exhibition of Palazzo Strozzi “Verrocchio, Master of Leonardo” is back with 120 new pieces and it’s all about a certain Renaissance artist Andrea del Verrocchio in which Leonardo da Vinci was a pupil (part of a series of initiatives honoring of the 500th anniversary of his death). There will also be a special section at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, for a full description – click here. I got to visit recently myself and was blown away by how much I had to learn about Vercocchio!
For residents of Florence, the first “free” Sunday of the month offering free openings to civic museums is on the 5th of May. Of course, people will want to visit the Giardino Bardini (address: Costa S. Giorgio, 2 – open until 6:30pm) with its full bloom of wisteria offering a purple filter of the panorama of Florence.
Keep in mind that every Thursday morning there is a flower market (see featured image) in the porticoes of Piazza della Repubblica. If you’re serious about buying flowers and plants come early to get the best of the bunch.
Market lovers should head to Piazza SS. Annunziata for the fierucola delle arte, dei mestieri e delle api (open market dedicated to art and bees) open until sundown (May 5th and 6th).
But what is a pitch, why is it essential and how do you do it? In this short, fun pitch workshop on May 9th, writer Cary Tennis and director Shaun Loftus will help you develop your pitch, polish it, and rehearse it until you are ready to wow the pros with just how great an author you are. More info can be found here.
Head to Piazza San Lorenzo on May 11thfor “Art in the Square” when local study abroad school “Lorenzo de’Medici” will be hosting an open-art exhibition by the students in their program.
The Heyart foundation will host a Creative Marketwith artisan wares on May 11thin beautiful Piazza Ciompi from 9:30am until May 12th, 8pm.
The Student Hotel in Florence is having a vintage and art marketon May 12thfrom 12pm-7pm.
Don’t forget that “Festa della Mamma” or Mother’s Day falls on May 13th (the second Sunday of the month). Show mamma you care by giving her a much-needed day off or a trip to the geletaria. I’d opt for both!
Artigianato e Palazzo is back at the gorgeous gardens of Corsini on via della Scala 115 from May 16-19thfeaturing 100 artisans who will showcase their crafts in this amazing space. New this year is a special nod to Leonardo da Vinci’s 500thanniversary of his death in a special exhibit featuring gold leaf from the historic workshop of Giusto Manetti Battiloro.
On May 19th (Sunday) you will get the chance to visit some of Tuscany’s hidden places (palaces, courtyards and gardens) thanks to ADSI day (Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane), this year it coincides with the European Private Heritage Week. More info and participating locations can be found here. Some of them include
Giardino Corsi Annalena, via Romana 38
Palazzo Guicciardini, via Guicciardini 15
Palazzo Michelozzi, via Maggio 11
Palazzo Ridolfi, via Maggio 13
Palazzo Frescobaldi, via Santo Spirito 11
Palazzo Rinuccini e Teatro Ottavio Rinuccini via Santo Spirito
A fascinating local tradition in Florence that many people have no idea about is the “Fiorita Commemoration” on May 23rd in Piazza della Signoria (around 9:30-10am) where a floral display is left on the circular spot where fiery preacher Savonarola who ruled Florence from 1494-1498 was put to death.
See one of Florence’s more residential streets become a haven for street food as food trucks will set up in lovely Varlungo May 24-26th. 11am-Midnight.
Visit a Rare Plant and Flower Market at Corsini Gardenson May 25-26thon Via della Scala 115.
Would you like to learn how to put down your notes, your script, your text, and learn to speak directly to an audience? When your hands are free, your presence opens up and you can really make a connection – and you can join this workshopat the St Mark’s Cultural Association Program on May 28thto learn now.
The perfect bad weather (or good weather, let’s be honest) activity is a trip to the trusty cinema, in my case our beloved original-language theater Odeon which is back on track with an interesting mix of options. Notable movies this month include Avengers Endgame, Stan & Ollie, . check out the program for May here. Price: 8 euros for a normal ticket.
OUTSIDE OF FLORENCE, HERE’S WHAT TO DO
- Pizza & Champagne at Pizzeria Lo Spela. May 10th from 8pm-11pm. A reason to visit Chianti and stay for dinner. Lo Spela is one of the best places for gourmet pizza and this special event combines the prowess of Andrea Formigli of Vinoteca al Chianti and Rose Champagne and the best pizzas ever by chef Paolo Pannacci which will have a seafood theme. 38€ for the food & champagne pairing. address. Via di Poneta (loc Ferrone) Greve in Chianti.
- Head to San Casino val di Pesa for the “Spring Festival” or Festa della Primavera on May 20th from 11-7pm, a fun day for the whole family in a spectacular location that will feature artisans, natural skin products and games for children (including pony rides!) at Villa Casavecchia, Via Scopeti, 41. More info can be discovered here.
- Antiques in the Square. May 5th. Scarperia is a charming small town located in Tuscany’s Mugello area and on the first Sunday of the month antique dealers set up shop in the town center making it a great day for a countryside day out. Browse and book a local restaurant nearby, and get the local speciality — potato-filled tortelli! Alternatively, Scarperia is also hosting its own “Infiorata” where floral designs take over local streets and squares on May 26th.
- Organic & Artisan market, May 26th. I adore Piazza Matteotti in the lovely Greve in Chianti and a great time to visit is during this lovely market in the towns center every 4th Sunday.
- Wild Boar in Certaldo. Bocaccio’s hometown is also home to a lovely sagra (food festival) featuring wild boar on May 1,3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, 12th.
- Cantine Aperte falls on May 25th-26ththis year and marks a time when Tuscan wine cellars open to the public for tastings and events. It makes for quite the day in the countryside but make sure to have a designated driver!
Ps. Enjoyed this post? As always, I appreciate your support and comments so please share this article with anyone you think could benefit from a friendly-Florence roundup and I’ll be forever thankful! I also included a Pinterest-friendly pin here.
Hi Georgette, Thanks for listing Il Pagliaio market in your month of May what to do post. Unfortunatly Il Pagliaio won’t be held in Greve on the 26th due to the elections so we have moved the market to GIRASOLE campsite which is near to Figline Valdarno (only for that edition) which is open to everyone. We will be sharing the day with Passe Passe the local circus school who will put on 2 shows and hold an circus lab for kids through out the day. The market will be from 10am until 7pm and we will offer the usual goodies of wine, oil, bread, flour, veggies, honey, jams all homemade,organic and home grown plus high level, hand made crafts. We have also organized a creative lab for children using only natural materials. It would be nice to meet in person so if you fancy a gita outside the city on the 26th you know where to head to.
Thank you Kirstie! I’ll go ahead and update that and it sounds quite cool!
Missing Link in the part about the Verrocchio Exhibit at the Palazzo Strozzi?
Thank you! I’ll add it!
Many thanks! This was really fun and informative ?
Georgette, hav been following you for some time. I was born in Wisconsin but Texan by choice as I grew up in Wisconsin but raised in Texas as a child.
I will be in Florence 24&27th. My wife wand celebrated 25 yrs marriage. Any suggestions for dinner or activity?
What a wonderful milestone to reach! I would plan a nice dinner somewhere like Osteria della Enoteca or even a sidecar sunset tour in the hills of the city http://www.florencesidecartour.com. I’ve done it before and really enjoyed it. I wish you guys a wonderful anniversary!
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