A Florence 2017 New Year’s Welcome

Free live music in the squares, dancing till dawn in a club or country villa, gospel concerts, spectacular fireworks over the Arno — New Year’s Eve in Florence will be one big party, with activities also scheduled on New Year’s Day.

The city’s churches, monuments and piazzas illuminated for the F-Light Festival add to the festive atmosphere. Put on your warm clothes and come prepared for fun and frivolity. For January 1 museum goers, the Uffizi will be accessible free of charge.


While the historical center will be closed to cars and buses, the tram runs every eight minutes all night. Four free shuttles will link Santa Maria Novella station with the center and outer quadrants of the city.

The “C” will go to Piazzale Michelangelo from Largo Alinari; others from the Station parking lot in the direction of via Valdinievole; Palazzo dei Congressi to Sorgane; via Duca degli Abruzzi to viale Fratelli Rosselli (Stazione Leopolda), all with return.

Buses 11, 14B and 17 will provide non-stop service as well, ending respectively at Porta Romana, via Niccolò da Tolentino and the Manifattura Tabacchi at the Cascine Park.

A Concert for Every Piazza

Piazzale Michelangelo

For the first time, Piazza Michelangelo — now off limits to traffic — serves as a venue with a view for a New Year’s concert.  Praised for his soulful interpretations, popular singer-songwriter Marco Mengoni leads the bill. Winner of the Italian talent show X-Factor in 2009, Mengoni was awarded first place in the San Remo Music Festival in 2013 with “L’essenziale.”

Street food stalls will be set up directly across the street, offering lasagna, ribollita (a Tuscan vegetable soup), spinach and ricotta cannelloni, hamburgers and sausage panini, served hot until 4 am.

Piazza della Signoria

Following time-honored tradition, the large square facing the Palazzo Vecchio offers classical music.

Piazza San Lorenzo

The expressive sounds of gospel music will fill the air in the front of the church and surrounding streets.

Piazza del Carmine

On the other side of the Arno River merrymakers can enjoy the upbeat sounds of jazz and bebop. Dancing is encouraged.

Piazza Pitti

The area in front of the Palazzo Pitti offers a DJ set into the wee hours.

Piazza Bartali

This square in the Gavinana neighborhood transforms into a street circus with jugglers, stilt walkers and puppeteers entertaining young and old alike.

Piazza dell’Isolotto

This gathering place on the south side of the river opposite Cascine Park will be dedicated to children with a program of music, animations and games.

Piazza della Resistenza, Scandicci

Two singer-songwriters are headlining in square close to the Resistenza tram stop. The opening act is Motta (10 pm), followed by Nada, an indie icon accompanied by A Toys Orchestra. DJ sets will continue to enliven the scene until the wee hours.


The Odeon Cinema has planned a special evening with the showing of Lion starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara. Nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, this uplifting true story will put a positive spin to ushering in 2017. The movie, in English with Italian subtitles, begins at 9:30 pm with a spumante toast and panettone following (€13 for movie and refreshments. www.odeonfirenze.com).


Sometime before midnight celebrants begin gathering along the river anticipating the fireworks that provide a continuous light show on the Arno River. The best viewing spots will be from one of the bridges. Many hotels join the pyrotechnics show by setting off displays from their rooftops.


Some museums offer special hours for the holiday weekend. Palazzo Vecchio (City Hall) can be toured on December 31 from 9 am to 7 pm and on January 1 from 2 until 7 pm.

The Uffizi will be open January 1 from 1:15 to 6:50 pm with free admission.

Santa Maria Novella opens on January 1 from 1 until 5:30 pm. In addition Santa Maria Novella’s historic monastery complex formerly off limits to the public will welcome visitors. Hours are 11 am to 4:30 pm on December 31 and January 1; no admission is charged.

Palazzo Strozzi and the Ai Wei Wei exhibition can be visited December 31 and January 1 from 10 am to 8 pm.

Museo del Novecento (Museum of 20th Century Art) is accessible on January 1 from 2 until 6 pm.

New Year’s Day

On Capodanno — New Year’s Day — some Florentines literally ‘make a splash’ to welcome 2017. Members of the Florence Rowing Club, the Societa’ Canottieri Firenze, have a more than 125-year tradition of initiating the New Year with a plunge into the Arno River.

The event commences at 11:30 am when boats parade on the river from Ponte alla Carraia to Ponte alle Grazie. At noon members of the club dressed in red and white suits, joined by the president of the regional council, dive into the chilly waters of the Arno.  Back on shore, they make a collective toast to the New Year.

Music for 2017

The Fiesole Music School brings in 2017 with a free concert highlighting the talented young students of this respected conservatory conducted by Giampaolo Pretto.  In a performance dedicated to the late violinist Andrea Tacchi, on stage will be the Italian Youth Orchestra, the Galileo Orchestra and the Orchestra dei Ragazzi.

The event begins with two Hungarian Dances by Brahms, followed by Bellini’s Sinfonia from the opera Norma and dance tunes from Verdi’s Four Seasons. The performance closes with the rousing sounds of Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances (January 1, 11:30 am. Teatro dell’Opera, Piazzale Vittorio Gui 1. For free passes, visit www.scuolamusicafiesole/it/eventi).   (rita kungel)