Hannah and I are having trouble liking May, but not for the reasons you might think. The month is overflowing with free festivals, celebrations, tours, outings, and every other synonym in the thesaurus under “events.” Some are featured here, and even more are featured on our calendar. So mostly we dislike it because we’re sitting stateside while some of the biggest free happenings of the year take place in our adopted home. Thus, we ask you all take our place and enjoy everything thrice as much–once for you, and then once for each of us. We can’t thank you enough!
Notte Bianca | April 30-May 1
Once in a while, Florence’s biggest museums throw open their doors, stay up late, and say, “Take me, I’m yours!” As in, come in for free. Perhaps the best known occurrence of this is Notte Bianca, Florence’s all-nighter filled with music, art and happiness. And it’s TONIGHT! So if you’re yet to set your itinerary, study this year’s full program this afternoon, or visit the Florentine’s cliff notes on the best aperitivi and concerti to check out. Even if you decide to just wander and see where the night takes you, we promise you’ll be out until morning. For our own take on Notte Bianca in the past, time travel here.
Trofeo Marzocco | May 1
The Trofeo Marzocco is a famous flag-waving contest hosted by the Bandierai degli Uffizi in Piazza della Signoria. The group’s more than 80 members (including children!) will compete against six teams from other areas of Italy for a trophy to see who practices and performs the old art best. It’s the perfect post-Notte Bianca activity, because it’s start time isn’t until 3:30 p.m.–so set your alarm for mid-afternoon and then head down to root for the home team! For more information on the event, the Bandierai and other events they participate in, visit here.
Free Guided Tours of Prato | Starting May 3
Here’s a happening we’re very sad to miss. Remember when visiting Prato was on our bucket list? Well, now you can easily cross it from yours. With free bus rides from Santa Maria Novella to the neighboring town, plus free guided tours (in English and Italian!) from area experts, you’ll get a privileged visit of Prato that many others would miss out on. For ten Sundays from now through July, you can choose the angle that most interests you to learn about the history of this oft overlooked area. Just make sure you sign up in advance–visit here for all the details!
Notte Blu & Festival d’Europa | May 5-10
The encore to Notte Bianca, Notte Blu celebrates more than Florence–it’s focus is on all of Europe. While it doesn’t get nearly as much press as her big sister Bianca, Blu holds her own with free lectures, workshops and art events across the city while headquartered at the fabulous Le Murate. It’s part of a bigger initiative, the Festival d’Europa, that explores the future of the continent with an interactive program open to all. Many of the events are free to the public. For all the details and the full schedule, click here.
Dante Day | May 14
2015 marks 750 years since Dante’s birth, which is reason enough to celebrate his incredible literary achievements. But plan to festiggiare in particular on May 14th, when flag throwers, poetry readings and more will be hosted in Piazza Santa Croce to celebrate the neighborhood’s golden boy. The party starts at 10 a.m. and centers around the poet’s statue in the square. For more information, call 329/4132868.
Artists in the Park at Stibbert Park | May 16
Since the start of art, those that have picked up a pen or a brush have been inspired first and foremost by their natural surroundings. Channel some of that creative energy at Stibbert Park starting at 10 a.m. on May 16th. There, artists of all levels are encouraged to paint and draw en plein air in the open-air studio. Then, at 5 p.m., an exhibition of the day’s work will be featured in the museum’s limonaia. Entrance and the event are free, but it’s BYOM–bring your own materials!–and by reservation only. Plus, participants can access the museum during the day at a discounted rate. Sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Night at the Museum & Amico Museo | May 16-June 2
La notte dei musei is another of our favorite nights. Institutions across Florence, Italy and even Europe will offer free entry and stay open from at least 9-11 p.m. on May 16th. So if you are overwhelmed with the crowds during Notte Bianca, plan on spending this night out on the town. The evening is part of the bigger Amico Museo, which offers family activities, special events and guided visits through June 2nd. To plan your late-night itinerary and explore the rest of the events associated with Amico Museo, click here.
Florence Design Week | May 27-31
Time to dust off your best-looking duds because Design Week will be taking over Florence. “Professionals from all over the world, companies, universities, buyers, art directors, artists and art enthusiasts will gather in Florence–in the heart of the city, in the most beautiful days of the year–for an all-inclusive experience of “Style, Pleasure, Art de Vivre in the name of business and conviviality.” Click here for locations and the full program.
Funny thing is, this is just the start of the great things happening around Florence this month! For even more events (that aren’t necessarily free), round out your schedule with this list by the Florentine. Have fun!