Who hasn’t been looking forward to August? In Italy, it’s the month where everyone enjoys vacanza and takes to the beaches rather than stay in the cities. On this side of the Atlantic, it marks the month these two ladies make their triumphant, albeit too brief, return to some of our favorite Italian cities – including Florence! And we’d like to think (delusionally, perhaps) that there are some people and places also eagerly awaiting our return. So while we’re busy packing, planning, and writing our bucket list (stay tuned), we’ve pulled together our monthly list of free things to do, helping all our expat friends keep busy until our highly anticipated return! (Like we said, delusional).
Free Thursday Nights at the Synagogue | Summer Thursdays
It seems only right to lead with what La Repubblica called the “real news” of the Florentine summer. Every Thursday, the Florentine Jewish community is welcoming the public to the Synagogue for a free aperitivo (kosher of course!) in the Synagogue garden, and Florence is flocking to it by the hundreds. Known as Balagan Cafe, visitors enjoy free food and drink, live concerts, and cultural events in addition to guided tours of the property from those who know it best. The activities start at 7 p.m. and continue on into the night. It’s a bit difficult to find upcoming information, but it looks like this site will post the details of each night’s event as they come.
Free Thursday Nights at the Accademia | Thursdays in August & September
We’re no less excited for the return of free nights at the Accademia! When we were in Florence, on the third Thursday of each month, certain museums stayed open later and offered free entrance. Not only could you go to the museums at night, you could go guaranteed to face almost no lines and pay nothing. It always felt too good to be true (like much of Florence), and it was the spark that lit our Florence for Free fire. Sadly, they disappeared for a bit, but thanks to a tip from the fabulous Alexandra of ArtTrav, it came back on our radar that for Thursdays in July, August, and September, visitors enjoy free entry to the Accademia from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. We’re sorry that we’re a little late to the game in telling you this, but you’ve still got plenty of chances to take our David walk and end with an unparalleled (and free!) viewing of the main man himself.
Another site we love, Te La Do Io Firenze, recently clued us into all the free things happening this month at one of our favorite hipster hangouts, Easy Living. First, it’s hosting a pretty incredible outdoor movie series every Sunday and Monday from August 4th (when our other favorite outdoor movie series concludes) until September 2. Expect to see eclectic, critically acclaimed films like Little Miss Sunshine, Blue Valentine, and District 9. Each movie starts at 9:30 p.m.; click here for the full film lineup. Then, every Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m., all free-thinkers and drinkers can twist, turn, and relax at Yoga on the Beach, hosted by It’s Yoga Firenze. Finally, on August 15, kids of all ages (well, mostly little tikes) are encouraged to come down and compete in an epic sandcastle contest, free of charge. So rest easy, those who aren’t fleeing town for the coast – Easy Living will take good care of you!
Feast Day of San Lorenzo | August 10
Those who take off early for August vacation will be sad to miss this triple-threat of a Florentine feast day. San Lorenzo was a beloved martyr with a legendary personality, so each year, a crowd gathers around his church to honor him with dancing, free concerts, and – the best part – free lasagna and watermelon (threat #1). Remarkably, this feast day also always coincides with the Perseids meteor shower, and the show of shooting stars is famously known as “San Lorenzo’s tears.” Italians seek out the nearest rooftop terrace or grassy knoll after nightfall so they can wish on the martyr’s tears (threat #2). But it’s also the night of the Calici di Stelle, an evening wine festival held throughout Tuscany. If you happen to be near a vineyard or winery, enjoy the best of both worlds and watch the shooting stars while sipping a glass of wine (threat #3). We couldn’t dream up a Tuscan summer night more perfect than this! For all the enchanting details, click here.
Ferragosto | August 15
Note: if you’re new to Florence, you might wonder why droves of people are crowding train platforms, bus lines, and highways with sun hats and beach totes in tow today. This holiday, which celebrates the Assumption of Mary, has become better known as the official marker of the Italian summer vacation. Some shops may be closed, but those brave enough not to head seaside might stumble on a free festival or two. Or you could join the party and jump a train to the beach – we’re sure there’s something to the masses’ exit.
Siena Palio | August 16
Florence’s nearby neighbor hosts its infamous horse race, where Siena’s neighborhoods (contrade) pour all their pride into one hopeful jockey and his majestic horse. Take a short train or bus ride to experience the madness – leave early enough in the morning and you might score a standing-room-only spot smack-dab in the middle of the horse track – or head to a nearby bar to have a front-row seat from the comfort of your own city. With an event as chaotic and crazy as this one, either way you’ll be happy you went, or happy you stayed.
Don’t forget, these are just the highlights of what’s happening; check our calendar for other ongoing events (terrace parties, anyone?) or visit Estate Fiorentina for every summertime event (free and paid) happening within the city walls this upcoming month.
…And with this post marking the start of August, let the official countdown begin! See you soon, Florence!