A Guide to Christmas in Florence, 2021

Adoration of the Christ Child with St. John the Baptist in Palazzo Medici Riccardi

SPECIAL HOLIDAY EVENTS

The F-Light Festival will feature projection mapping with videos that light up many iconic locations in Florence until January 9, every evening from 5:30 pm to midnight.

The Fortezza da Basso is hosting a giant Ferris wheel, a skating rink, Santa’s house, and a Christmas village; see article here.

The Orchestra della Toscana is giving a live concert on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, a tradition but the first since 2019.

CHURCH SERVICES IN ENGLISH

During the Christmas festivities the St. James Episcopal Church and the St. Mark’s Anglican Church will be holding their respective worship services in English, as will the Catholic church of Santi Apostoli on Borgo Santi Apostoli. 

St. James

On December 24, St. James on via Bernardo Rucellai, 9 will hold the first Mass of Christmas at 6 pm, followed by “The Vigil of Nativity” beginning at 11 pm.  On Christmas Day, December 25, the “The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ” service will take place at 9 am to tell about the day that Jesus was born. Following this, a concluding Christmas service, “The Sunday Within the Octave of the Nativity” will be held on December 26.  Each service will be limited to 55 people due to health regulations in the region, and both the Christmas Eve and Nativity ceremonies require a reservation on their respective Google forms.

St. Mark’s

On December 21, beginning at 6 pm, a caroling spree will take place around the Oltrarno neighborhood to spread festive cheer. All are welcome to join: guests need to arrive no later than a few minutes before the appointed time at via Maggio 16 and a flashlight is highly recommended when participating in the event. On Christmas Eve, a Midnight Mass will be held, followed by a Christmas Day choral Eucharist at 10:30 am on December 25. Ending the celebrations will be a Said Eucharist on December 26 at 10:30 am. 

Borgo SS Apostoli

December 24 will begin with an evening Mass in English at 5 pm at the church in piazza del Limbo (near Ponte Vecchio), followed by another in Italian at 6 pm. The night will end with a Christmas Eve Vigil in Italian starting at 10:30 pm. For Christmas Day, Mass will be held at 10:30 am for English attendees, followed by two more Christmas Masses in Italian at 11:30 am and 7 pm. 

Duomo

Christmas Eve and December 25 will follow a new schedule that differs from its standard “holiday” timetable. All Masses will be held in Italian for those who are bilingual and wish to attend a service in one of the most revered religious sites in Florence. Beginning at 11 pm on December 24 is a Vigil, followed by a Midnight Mass said by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori. Another Mass will also be led by Cardinal Betori on December 25 at 10:30 am. The Nativity scene will continue to be displayed throughout the Christmas season up until January 6, found outside in piazza del Duomo, the cathedral square. 

MUSEUMS

Throughout Florence, many museums and churches will be closed during Christmas Day on December 25. However a few select locations will be open for those wishing to use this holiday for some sightseeing. Both the museum and Basilica of Santa Maria Novella will be open from 1 to 5 pm, with free admission to all guests. Jeff Koons’ display in Palazzo Strozzi will continue as usual from 10 am to 8 pm. Other civic churches open on Christmas include the Basilica di Santa Annunziata from 4 to 5:15 pm; the Basilica of Santa Trinita from 9 to 10:30 am and 4 to 6 pm; the Basilica of Santo Spirito from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and 3 to 5 pm; and the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte from 3 to 5:30 pm. All museums will be offering their standard Sunday, Monday and weekly hours once the Christmas holiday has concluded. The Uffizi gallery, Palazzo Pitti, Boboli and Accademia can be visited on Sunday but only if a reservation is made one day prior, which can be done by calling +39 055 294883 or by visiting www.firenzemusei.it.

MOVIES IN ENGLISH

Cinema Odeon, piazza Strozzi

Showing daily through December 30 (5 & 9 pm): HOUSE OF GUCCI.

Viewers can see the dramaticized retelling of the life, times and murder of Maurizio Gucci. The long awaited film starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver as the Gucci couple will take the audience through the events that led up to the death of Maurizio as plotted by his wife Patrizia Reggiani across a multitude of locations throughout Italy.

Spazio Uno, via del Sole 10

Showing on December 22 (9 pm), 23 (9 pm) and 24 (6:15 & 9 pm):  SPIDERMAN, NO WAY HOME.

Spazio Alfieri, via dell’Ulivo 8

Showing on December 24, 26 and 28 (9:30 pm): WEST SIDE STORY.

The new adaptation of a musical classic, the West Side Story by Steven Spielberg, is premiering in English with Italian subtitles. The story is based on William Shakespeare’s classic story of Romeo and Juliet, which is reimagined as the tale of Maria, a Puerto Rican girl who falls in love with an American named Tony in the Upper West Side District of New York. A rivalry between two rival gangs, known as the Sharks and the Jets, threatens to tear the love of the two main characters apart through violence and discrimination. 

The film stars Ansel Elgort, from The Fault in Our Stars fame, and Rachel Zegler in her big screen debut. Accompanying them in support roles is Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, along with Rita Moreno, who is notable for winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the first feature-length adaptation of West Side Story in 1961. 

Tickets can be purchased by visiting the theater’s online biglietteria and purchasing a V.O.D (original audio) reservation. The cinema itself can be found on Via dell’Ulivo, 8 near Santa Croce. (nelson matos)