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European Heritage Days September 24 & 25

September 23, 2016 by Lourdes Flores


The European Heritage Days are the most widely celebrated participatory cultural event shared by the citizens of Europe.  Held in September each year, EHDs events – often called Heritage Open Days – take place in the 50 countries party to the European Cultural Convention; this year, the days fall this weekend, Sept 24-25. During this time, doors are opened to numerous monuments and sites, allowing Europe’s citizens to enjoy free visits (or at a symbolic 1 euro) and learn about their shared cultural heritage, encouraging them to become actively involved in the safeguard and enhancement of this heritage for present and future generations.

Italy is participating with many cultural sites holding special opening hours this weekend, particularly with longer or special hours on the evening September 24 and 25. Entrance will be a symbolic 1 euro. In addition, many entrance into the sites will include conferences, presentations, concerts or other shows.

Across Tuscany, over 70 museums and other sites of cultural interest, state and private, will participate in the European Heritage Days — here are just some of the main ones across the provinces:

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Possible Alitalia Strike Tomorrow Sept 22

September 21, 2016 by Lourdes Flores


A union representing Alitalia pilots and flight attendants has announced its intention to strike tomorrow, on Thursday, September 22 as part of ongoing negotiations while other unions have agreed to suspend the strike.

Multiple Alitalia flights could be affected.  Please note that the strike may be cancelled depending on the status of these negotiations; travelers should check with Alitalia prior to their scheduled travel for the latest information.

Travelers can also check for updates through the Commissione di Garanzia Sciopero’s website or the site Ministero delle Infrastrutture e Trasporti.

Additionally, Italian news sources are also likely to carry information about upcoming strikes so follow them (or ask for help) to learn the latest developments.

Earthquake in Italy

August 26, 2016 by Lourdes Flores
copyright ANSA

Pescara del Tronto, in province of Ascoli Piceno.

As many of you already know, in the early morning of this past Wednesday, areas of central Italy were struck by a 6.2 earthquake, causing 278 casualties and with 238 survivors extracted from under the debris and 387 wounded (as of today at 7pm). As the hours pass, hope that more people will be found alive under the destruction of homes diminishes but work continues by emergency squadrons who continue the search for survivors.

In particular, the epicenter of the first earthquake struck at 3:36am near the town of Accumoli, in the province of Rieti, which falls in an area between the regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo. The towns of Accumoli, Amatrice, Arquata and Pescara del Tronto are the towns worse hit, with all of them having major damage. Amatrice suffered the worst casualties, with 218 deaths. The first shake was followed by over 100 aftershocks within the first three-hour period, aftershocks that have continued through the last two days and many felt as far as Rome and the region of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany (with a total of over 900 aftershocks). We wish to reassure all of our readers that even if the first earthquake was felt in Tuscany and Florence, there were no damages or casualties in the entire region of Tuscany. It is SAFE to travel to Florence and many other parts of Italy.

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A New Free Itinerary at Palazzo Medici Riccardi

August 12, 2016 by Cristina Romeo

Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence has just inaugurated a new itinerary which winds its way through the fragrant orange trees found within its walls. It is a only short path but it will allow everyone free access to admire Michelozzo’s courtyard (also known as the Courtyard of the Columns) and the gardens in the palace.


The courtyard is the heart of Palazzo Medici Riccardi and was constructed in the 1400’s by Michelozzo of Bartolomeo Michelozzi.


It is a very special space and its walls host many unique pieces including the statue of Orpheus who charms Cerberus by Baccio Bandinelli as well as numerous busts, inscriptions and other ancient pieces from the archaeological collection of the Riccardi family. The west wall displays copies of casts for the sculptures that once adorned the ancient facade of the Cathedral and whose originals are preserved in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.


The gardens of Palazzo Medici Riccardi were created in the 1400’s as a special refuge as well as a space dedicated to celebrations and parties. In fact, it is here, in this hidden corner, that Lorenzo de’ Medici and Clarice Orsini held their wedding in 1469, and then in 1539, there was the wedding reception for the of Cosimo I and Eleonora di Toledo.

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Ferragosto: What’s Open in Florence (and beyond)?

August 11, 2016 by Lourdes Flores


August 15th is a national holiday, so you’ll see lots of places closed down for the day. Wondering where to head to and what to do on that day?? Relax and enjoy the quiet day, and go to a museum! Many, in fact, have decided given the 3 day holiday weekend to remain open or have a special opening for that day, as is the case for the Uffizi and Accademia, which are normally closed on Mondays.

We’ve compiled a list of places that are open and hours so that if you’re in Florence this upcoming Monday, you know where and when to head to various places!

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Summer at Florence’s Museums: Longer Openings with Special Events

August 3, 2016 by Lourdes Flores

Performances at the Uffizi on Tuesdays this summer, part of “Uffizi Live”

This summer in Florence, when the temps are quite warm during the day, you can dedicate a part of your evening to culture and art! The Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello and Medici Chapels all are offering extended opening times on different days of the week to offer a chance to visit these popular museums outside of their normal opening times, allowing you to also spread out your day’s activities into later in the day.


The Uffizi, every Tuesday evening until September 27th, will stay open until 10pm. “Uffizi Live“, the cultural festival taking place on these Tuesdays, offers visitors the chance to enjoy the works on exhibit accompanied with other forms of art, from music to theater to dance and other artistic performances. You can see more on the Uffizi Live calendar for August here.
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A Michelangelo Week: July 14-21

July 13, 2016 by Lourdes Flores


A Michelangeleque Week” is starting tomorrow, July 14 through July 21, which coincides with the anniversary of his funeral in San Lorenzo on the 14th of July 1564.

The Settimana Michelangiolesca is an annual, multidisciplinary cultural festival, now in its 3rd edition, that is centered around the life and work of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Painter, sculptor, architect and poet. All of his work also reflects the theology, politics and ethics of his time. He was an intellectual, Christian artist who was deeply involved in the political setting of the Florence of the Medici up until 1534, when he left the city to return only after his death. His remains were honored in San Lorenzo, before being buried in Santa Croce.

Through the experience of today’s artists, poets, architects, philosophers and art historians, Michelangelo’s influence and power through the centuries will shine, hopefully making all of us continue to experience new emotions and interpretations of the artist’s genius.

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Uffizi Live: Tuesday Evenings at the Museum

July 5, 2016 by Lourdes Flores

Company Blu inaugurated the season on the last Tuesday in May with a contemporary dance performance entitled “4 Steps 4 Angel” by Charlotte Zerbey in the Niobe room.

Up until September 27th, the Uffizi Gallery has organized longer openings hours every Tuesday and is holding a Festival of the Performing Arts on these Tuesdays under the name of “Uffizi Live“.

The summer festival is a mix of artistic events that include theater, dance and musical shows and concerts within the Uffizi’s rooms between 7pm and 10pm on these Tuesdays. Visitors will thus have an extra incentive for visiting the museum on these days, having a chance to enjoy the pictorial and sculptural artworks of the museum along with other forms of art. The shows range from traditional performances to more contemporary and experimental shows.

The live performances are included with your normal museum ticket to the Uffizi and should transform a simple visit to the Uffizi into an extra special visit! Check out the program for July below, we’ve included photos from the various shows this past June to give you an idea of what you will find! 🙂

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Festa dei Musei & Free Entrance to Museums

June 29, 2016 by Donna Scharnagl

Special opening hours and entrance fees for the museums in Florence and Tuscany in honor of the Festa dei Musei on the 2nd & 3rd of July.

A combination of the celebrated 1st weekend of the month (free entrance on Sunday July 3) and the first ever Festa dei Musei (with extended hours on Saturday July 2), gives everyone (adults and children alike) a fantastic opportunity to explore the vast collection hidden behind the walls of the many museums that dot Florence, Tuscany and all of Italy.

Festa dei Musei, free entrance to Florence & Tuscany Museums

Mark your calendars:

Saturday July 2, There will be normal opening hours and entrance fees during the course of the day and in the evening there will be extra hours  (7pm – 10pm) with the symbolic cost of 1 Euro.  Check this link for a complete list of all participating museums in Florence & Tuscany

Sunday July 3, There will be normal hours however, since this is the first Sunday of the month, there will be free entrance for everyone. Here is a list of those that participate in Florence and another list of those that participate in Tuscany.
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A McDonald’s Right Next to the Duomo?

June 23, 2016 by Lourdes Flores


This week the media and public have learned that the City of Florence has been in talks with the international fast-food chain McDonald’s for a new branch opening right in Piazza Duomo, on the northern side of the cathedral. An uproar has risen on social media, while the city’s mayor, Dario Nardella, has spoken publicly against the opening, throwing his own commissioner into confusion.

Giovanni Bettarini, commissioner for productive activities in the city council, has outlined that the project he has been working on is quite unique, ensuring that the fast-food chain change its usual mode of business and used local suppliers for its offerings. For example, the project outlined use of Tuscan meat for its burgers and other local products (including use of dairy products by Tuscan-based Mukki) and that the business respected all regulations imposed on Florence’s historical center given its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  While talks were already in an advanced stage, now everything is back in the air. To open a new branch under the shade of Brunelleschi’s dome, the international company had already expressed its willingness to design a unique restaurant, not based on its fast-food model but as a sit-down restaurant with wait staff and service at the table, no cash registers with large menus with its burger behind and above them and to redesign a special look for its interior, one that would have included a children’s library hosting cultural events.

For now, the idea of a McDonald’s in Piazza Duomo has the public in an uproar, particularly on social media. What do you think, should we wait and see the entire project to decide whether to give McDonald’s a chance at offering something truly unique for the city of Florence or should we oppose a fast-food chain, particularly the one that represents consumerism at its most extreme, right in Piazza Duomo next to the cathedral, symbol of Florence?

(As quick reminder, there are already 2 McDonald’s nearby in less than 5 minutes walking distance from the Duomo in the historical center, one on Via Cavour heading toward Piazza San Marco and another outside the Santa Maria Novella train station.)