Ah August, the month of ferie. During which, just about anyone with a business, a family or a pulse hightails it for the sea and says Ciao, ciao! to city life. Even if you feel slighted that you don’t have the funds for a vacation spot in the country or at the beach, Florence, while noticeably deserted, won’t completely shut down (still too many tourists for that!). What better time to take part in many of the ongoing free events? We’ve added a splash of summer outings, for good measure.
Estate Fiorentina | All Month
Florence’s annual tribute to summer continues into August. Some of the free events featured over the next few weeks include concerts, short films and aperitivo in the Horticultural Garden (on August 17th, 18th and 22nd, respectively). Still, our favorite EF summer event is attending Balagan Cafe at the Synagogue on Thursday evenings. Visitors enjoy free entry, live concerts, and cultural events in addition to guided tours of the property from those who know it best. Food and drink is available for purchase but not required. The activities start at 7 p.m. and continue into the night. For each Thursday’s specific lineup, click here.
As announced in July, all state museums are now open to the public for free on the first Sunday of every month. It’s part of a broader change that eliminates discounts on admission for different age groups. To soften the blow, however, there will be more opportunities to check out your favorite historical sites for free and extended late-night hours on Fridays for certain museums. In addition to free Sundays, there will also be two “Night at the Museum” dates a year (up from one), when entrance costs only 1 euro. For all the details, visit here.
If it’s a beautiful day and you’d rather not be inside, the newly reopened Forte Belvedere will also offer free entry and guided tours of its new exhibit on this Sunday. We can’t force you to go, but know that if we could – we would.
Night of Remembrance in the Boboli Gardens | August 3
Here is a particularly special happening not to be missed. The evening of August 3rd will mark the 70th anniversary of the German army destroying Florence’s bridges (except the Ponte Vecchio) during its retreat from the city. In memory of that frightening night, the Boboli Gardens are partnering with Arca Azzurra Teatro to host a gathering – complete with photos, films, readings from unpublished historical documents and more – that chronicles the days that preceded and followed Florence’s liberation. And here’s an incredible detail: “La notte della memoria,” said the Superintendent of the State Museums of Florence, Cristina Acidini, “can only take place at Pitti and Boboli, which offered refuge in those terrible moments to the Florentine people injured by the destruction.” It starts at 9 p.m. in the Piazzale della Meridiana of Boboli Gardens, with free entrance from the courtyard of Piazza Pitti. Visit here more information.
Feast Day of San Lorenzo | August 10
Those who take off early for August vacation might still 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 final night of the Calici di Stelle (August 5-10), a 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). For all the enchanting details, click here.
Ferragosto | August 15
Finally, there’s Ferragosto. This holdover from Augustus’ festivals in ancient Rome (which is now also rolled in with the celebration of Mary’s Assumption) remains the heart of Italian summer vacation time. Even if Italians don’t take off the full month, they’ll be in full-on relaxation mode by August 15th – especially this year, as it falls on a Friday. Meaning, most everything is likely to be closed. How will you wile away the long weekend? We have three ideas for a possible staycation:
- First, head up to Pratolino. The visually stunning, sweeping park is only a bus ride away. It is also free to lounge in and is home to Giambologna’s Appennino. Get your fill of green pastures (and see if you can spot the giraffe pit – ask Hannah about that one!).
- How about spending time at the “beach”? While a far cry from the Italian Riviera, Spiaggia sull’Arno still allows you to plant your feet in the sand with a cold cocktail from nearby Easy Living. Plus, last year on August 15th, the beach hosted a sandcastle contest. You might be surprised with something fun to watch or do upon arrival.
- Finally, as it is a holiday, maybe it’s time to splurge a little (we’re talking an easy 5-euro splurge). If you didn’t make it to Forte Belvedere earlier in the month, know that there’s a bit of a trick to the usual entrance fee: you can either pay 5 euro for a one-time entry, OR you can pay 5 euro for a Forte Card, which gives you unlimited visits to the park for the length of the current exhibit. As Giuseppe Penone’s work will be up until October 5, that’s almost two months of access for the cost of one visit.
Whelp, we feel that’s a pretty strong lineup for 31 days of fun. Now, don’t let us hear that you’re bored at home during ferie! With this list in hand, it would be your own fault.