It’s finally here! The night we’ve waited for all month, and the event that pretty much sums up what Florence for Free is all about – Notte Bianca. Well ok, technically it’s not until Tuesday, but for the night Florence has in store for you, we have some preparing to do.
Writing about the “white night” is a task more bittersweet than I had anticipated, as Notte Bianca 2012 was how I spent my final night as a resident of Florence. For a full 12 hours my gang and I soaked up the city. As we watched lanterns lit over the Arno, were dazzled by performers suspended over streets, danced our way through every party in every piazza, and soireed in the Palazzo Vecchio at 4 AM, I felt my heart heavier than perhaps ever before. It was everything I loved about Florence, but bigger and better, and muddled with my highly emotional state of mind and a dash of sleep deprivation. I sound like a mess don’t I? Well, before I spiral into one of my Italy nostalgia black holes (black holes that my friends and family back in America are all too familiar with) I’ll hit the brakes. All you really need to know is that Notte Bianca is a party you will hate yourself for missing. So don’t miss it. OK?
If you’re new to the city and my emotional, nostalgic flashes of the night have you totally confused, we have some defining to do. Notte Bianca means white night in Italian. The white night tradition actually began in France with the Nuit Blanche (good luck getting an Italian to admit that though) about 30 years ago. The tradition blossomed from the idea to have one night in celebration of a city’s art, culture, and ultimately identity. In Florence, the term means the one night of the year when all Florentines (literally, I’m talking men, women, children, and even pets) stay out and celebrate ALL – NIGHT – LONG. Although Tuesday marks only the 4th installment of this epic all-nighter, Notte Bianca has already become one of the year’s most highly anticipated Florentine traditions. Obviously….
The official program of events will be conveniently available in cafes, museums and libraries throughout the city in the days preceding Notte Bianca. Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy? Check out the online version so you can start planning for the ultimate all-nighter now.
The theme of the year will be Volare, or flight. Artist, Felice Limosani is the appointed creative genius behind this year’s Notte, and will orchestrate the entire program of events. Felice envisions the evening’s events collectively creating a grand metaphor of hope for the future….che sigh! Will you be thinking of the meaning of life on Tuesday night though? Probably not. But you will be wowed and weirded-out (the good kind of weirded-out), by all kinds of things, like this crazy installment involving swings, bells and dummies (?), rumored to be displayed in Piazza della Signoria.
Or, the artistic projections on the sides of large monuments and churches in town……
Or the aerostatic sculptures above Piazza Santa Croce.
Or spray water artists in Piazza della Repubblica.
Or suspended dancers outside of Palazzo Pitti and Santa Maria Novella.
Or (my personal favorite) late night museum hopping. Ok, maybe that’s only a Hannah and Meg fantasy. But if you’re like us, tonight’s your night to indulge. Civic museums will prop open their doors far past acceptable hours. Midnight with The Birth of Venus? Yes, please!
Mapping out your night to make it to all the events in the program before sunrise seems like a good idea, and one that I attempted every year. However, don’t let your itinerary hold you back. Each year about two hours in, my friends and I threw up our arms and let the night take us where it would. And oh where we went – secret garden raves, midnight movies, impromptu dance parties, and the list goes on.
While I prefer the fun to come to me, some would rather bring the fun themselves. If that’s you check out this Facebook group we found that’s planning a flash mob in Piazza Santa Croce. Sorry, hope that doesn’t ruin any surprises for anyone.
The technical party times run 6 PM April 30th to 6 AM May 1st. If you make it until morning, high five Mayor Matteo Renzi himself at the official Notte Bianca breakfast open to the public at 6 AM in the Palazzo Vecchio.
Now for preparations.
1. Keep your eye on the FFF Facebook and Twitter for updates on the big event
2. Load up on your Z’s by enforcing strict early bedtimes the next few nights
3. Recruit a solid group of friends with proven longevity and enthusiasm for a good time
4. Pocket Coffee – Google it, then find it at your local Tabacchi.
Oh, and did we even mention? It’s all free. Does life even get better than Notte Bianca? I have yet to be proven otherwise. So get out there Tuesday night, for me, for Meg, for yourself, and for the city we love most of all – Firenze.