See BB King play in front of the town hall in Pistoia; Watch London players perform in a converted factory in Prato; Learn about the engineers who inspired Leonardo... There's a lot going on!
Visite ai Giardini Fiesolani: Guided tours of Fiesole's many formal gardens, from April though June, and September/October. Call on 055 59611 for further information.
When God Lived at Ife: A spectacular collection of Nigerian terracottas and bronzes. Until July 3 2005.
Il Giardino dell'Iris: A spectacular Iris show and international breeder's competition, in the Iris Garden under Piazzale Michelangelo, from May 2-20. For further information call on 055 483 112.
Il Giardino delle Rose: Hundreds of Roses for your pleasure! In the city's rose gardens, under Piazzale Michelangelo, in May. For further information call on 055 234 3112.
Artigiano e Palazzo: A fascinating annual craft fair, held in Florence in mid-May.
Jerusalem in Valdelsa - History and images of the Holy Mountain of San Vivaldo - Permanent exhibition - 0571/699252.
Mostra Archeologica Bruscoli: A permanent exposition.
Italy, Year Round: Winefests. The more important wine festivals scheduled throughout the Peninsula. There's a LOT going on!
Barga, December 23: La Nativitá Vivente. A Christmas pageant with Mary, Joseph, the Magi, and (at midnight) Baby Jesus.
Camaiore, Corpus Domini (end May): Laying out the carpets. The Town of Camaiore, near Lucca, covers the streets with carpets of flower petals with religious themes.
Fiesole, July 6: Festa di San Romolo. The patron Saint's day. There's a big out-door market in the main square, and at night a fantastic fireworks display, with the town hall decked with Roman candles and whirlers, and rockets staged from both ends of the square. Don't miss it. To get to Fiesole from Florence, take the # 7 bus.
Florence, June:Calcio in Costume. The precursor to modern football, a must!
Florence, June 24 Festa di San Giovanni. The patron Saint's day; a local holiday with the finale of the Calcio in Costume, a spirited mediaeval version of soccer, in Piazza Santa Croce. At ten PM there is a fireworks display; the best place to watch from is Ponte Santa Trinita (the Ponte Vecchio will be in the foreground).
Florence, 6-7 September: Festa della Rificolona. Children carry lanterns, there's a traditional fair in Piazza Santissima Annunziata, and everybody has a great time.
Grassina (Just outside Florence), Good Friday: La Rievocazione Storica del Venerdi Santo. Christ's life and Passion; a spectacular display of religious sentiment that culminates with His crucifixion
Montepulciano, Last Sunday of August: Bravìo delle Botti. The town's neighborhoods compete, rolling barrels through the streets and up to the Cathedral.
Pescaglia, December 26 Jan 6: A Crib Down Under: A unique crèche not far from Barga.
Pisa, June 16: La Luminara di San Daniele: Hauntingly beautiful; in honor of Pisa's Patron Saint all the buildings on both banks of the Arno are outlined with candles.
Pisa: Il Gioco del Ponte: The last Sunday in June; the city's neighborhoods compete over the bridge in the heart of town. Beautiful.
Pistoia, July 25: La Giostra dell'Orso. To celebrate San Jacopo, Pistoia's Patron Saint, San Jacopo, the city's four neighborhoods (Golden Bear, Dragon, White Stag and Griffon) hold a joust in Piazza del Duomo. In pairs, the knights race twice around the square and then try to strike the target, a bear, with their lances.
Siena: Il Palio A horse race held twice each year (July 2 and August 16) in the 13th century town square; gut-wrenching excitement.
San Gimignano, Feb: Carnevale. To celebrate the end of Lent the town organizes a Renaissance tournament in the main square. A beautiful backdrop for an exciting afternoon! The official activities should start at 3 PM, though there will certainly be something in the morning as well.
Tuscany, Fall: Winefests. With the harvest comes reason to celebrate.
Tuscany, Fall: Truffle fairs and mushroom fests.
Viareggio, Jan-Feb:Carnevale: The people of Viareggio spend the year preparing spectacular satirical floats for the annual Carnevale parades, which are held on the 4 Sundays preceding Shrove Tuesday. Lots of fun!
Venice, Feb: Il Carnevale di Venezia. An unforgettable experience; the city becomes an enormous costume ball. Excellent information from Durant Imboden, who gives precise dates.
The regular concert seasons of most Tuscan theaters begin in the fall, and many extend until June. The summer? That's the time for festivals. Here you will find listings, and, where they are available, links to sites that list programs and schedules; some also tell you how to buy tickets, and others even give you the opportunity to purchase tickets on-line.
Jazz in Tuscany: Information on jazz performances throughout Tuscany.
Fiesole: Estate Fiesolana, a series of concerts, ballets, and operas held in the Roman Amphitheater. Beautiful setting and inspiring performances; there's always a breeze, and it's the perfect place to go to get away from Florence's oppressive heat. The performances take place between June and September. For further information, (many things are arranged at the last minute) call on 055 59611.
Florence: Teatro Comunale, the city theater. A program listing, also gives ticketron address.
Florence: Estate in Palazzo Pitti. Concerts in Ammannati's Courtyard, in July and August. For Further information (things are often decided upon on short notice, call on 055 580 996.
Florence: Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Operas and classical concerts, given by many of the best performers in the world in Florence's Teatro Comunale, and in the more intimate Teatro della Pergola. Performances run from April to June. The site, in Italian & English, also has a nice sound file to download.
Pistoia: Pistoia Blues. Certainly the best Blues Festival in Italy, it's twinned with the Chicago Blues Festival and attracts all the greatest stars. This July there were B.B. King, David Bowie, Stevie Winwood and Zucchero. Who knows who'll be playing next year? There are special trains from Florence.
Siena: In the early part of this century, the then Count Chigi, head of one of Siena's most illustrious families, tried to visit Rome: he got about 20 miles before a wave of homesickness forced him back. Shortly thereafter he founded the Accademia Chigiana, which organizes a series of concerts held by the world's greatest classical musicians and their students (since he couldn't go to them ) Among other things, the Accademia launched the re-evaluation of Vivaldi that has recognized him to be one of the great Baroque composers. The concerts take place in July, in Mediaeval courtyards and palaces, in the heart of Siena. For information, contact the organizers, at Via di Citta' 89, 53100 Siena. Tel: (Italy) 577 46152; Fax (Italy) 577 288124.
Siena: Rassegna del Jazz - a series of open-air concerts held in the Medici Fortress, during July and August, and other things year round. What's upcoming..
Torre del Lago: Festival Pucciniano. The Tuscan coast, especially around Viareggio, is quite beautiful. If you decide to interrupt your trip with a couple of days on the beach (or use Viareggio as a base from which to visit the Cinque Terre), what better way to spend an evening than watching an opera at Puccini's summer home, on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli? With a full moon the spectacle is unforgettable. (Alas) In Italian. We do have some information in English, however.