florens 2012: free culture all week!

For culture enthusiasts like us, the Florens project is a biennial gift of free art installations, lectures, and aperitivo hours. All encourage conversation around a central theme: “culture is the quality of life.” The weeklong event not only celebrates Florence’s unique, thriving culture but also challenges its accepted norms, on topics ranging from fashion to art to ecotourism. It all starts tomorrow, November 2nd and runs until Sunday, November 11th.

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Inside the Palazzo Vecchio at the Florens 2012 press conference

You can find the robust program of activities here, and all events are free (keep in mind that some require advance registration). Lectures, open to the public, are held daily in the Palazzo Vecchio’s grand rooms, followed by a free aperitivo hour starting each day at 6:30 p.m. Keynote speakers are saved for 9 p.m.

{ Side note: I would love to hear “Film culture and the role of international film festivals” this Saturday morning in the Sala dei Duecento. It’s led by the director of France Odeon and features speakers from the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, to name a few. Sign me up! }

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Rendering of the olive grove

But Florens’s major highlights aren’t tucked away in the palace – they’ll share your space. First, Piazza del Duomo (Piazza San Giovanni) will be overrun with over 70 olive trees, transforming the stone, urban landscape into an impromptu grove.  Similarly, contemporary artist Mimmo Paladino  (hear him speak here) will fill the sprawling space in front of Santa Croce with giant pieces of marble in the shape of a cross. As The Florentine points out, both installations will challenge passersby to reconsider the current function of Florence’s beloved piazzas.

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Installing Paladino’s marble cross in Piazza Santa Croce

Finally, the showstopper!  Don’t miss the trio of Renaissance masterpieces on display inside the Baptistery: carved crucifixes by Donatello, Brunelleschi, and Michelangelo will stand side by side inside the mosaic-lined jewel box. The best part? The Baptistery, which normally charges a 5-euro entry fee, will open its doors for free every day from November 3-11 between 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

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Rendering of the three crucifixes on display inside the Baptistery

Free exhibits and education on Florence’s culture? You know that’s right up our alley! As Hannah and I can’t be there ourselves, we encourage you to take in as much of the events as possible and report back to us what your favorites are. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

First photo via Florens Facebook page, the following three via La Repubblica Firenze. Click the photos to be taken directly to the page.

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