‘F-Light:’ Florence’s 2018 Holiday Glow


From December 8 until January 6, 2019, Florence will truly be a winter wonderland with brilliant adornments around every corner.

The Florence Light Festival returns this year with the title “F-Light Your Mind,” inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, and will illuminate the city for a month beginning December 8. The F-Light event will showcase video-mapping, projections, light games, educational activities, special museum tours, shows, and art exhibitions.  There will be a new focus on the city gates and towers located outside of the city center. Similar to previous years, the F-Light Festival involves many key spots such as the Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Piazza Santa Maria Novella, and the Oltrarno neighborhood.

The 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death influences the festival’s themes which center around the illumination of the mind, innovation, and invention. Displays around Florence will symbolize the spark that ignites curiosity. Related activities are planned especially for families with children.

Piazza Santa Maria Novella features a new installation this year. A 59-foot (18-meter) frame outlining the shape of a fir tree will be decorated with circular motifs that mimic the colored marble patterns of the adjacent basilica. In addition to the tall “tree,” Museo Novecento in Piazza Santa Maria Novella garners attention with colorful beams as it welcomes the Medardo Rosso exhibition (beginning December 20).

Ponte Vecchio is typically the most eye-catching of the illuminated monuments. In tune with the upcoming celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master’s death in 2019, Sergio Risaliti curated the light project to celebrate da Vinci’s genius. The Sala d’Arme of Palazzo Vecchio will also participate in F-Light through a multimedia presentation which focuses on both the early 15th wars between Florence and Milan as well as the rivalry between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo who were commissioned to respectively adorn the walls in Salone dei Cinquecento with murals of the battle of Anghiari and the battle of Cascina (Florentine victories).  Both paintings are now lost, although preparatory drawings by both artists still exists. As for the Arnolfo Tower, a LED display will color the battlements, spanning the 311-foot (95-meter) structure.

Piazza della Signoria is another spotlight of the F-Light festival with brilliantly lit walls and vaulted ceilings of the Loggia dei Lanzi framing the sculptures by Giambologna and Roman statues.  Above the artworks, the theme of this year’s festival, “F-Light Your Mind,” along with the hashtag the #EnjoyRespectFirenze campaign designed to raise awareness about appropriate behavior respectful to and keeping in mind the medieval and Renaissance landmarks of Florence.

In the courtyard garden of Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the da Vinci-related works of young artists will illuminate the walls, with a similar effect can found in the Michelozzo courtyard.

LED lights are making the facade of  The Rinascente department stores ose clin Piazza della Repubblica sparkle and the Central Market (Mercato Centrale) is featuring an installation by Marco Lodola.

The towers and doors of the city — including Torre della Zecca, Torre di San Niccolò, Porta al Prato, Porta Romana, Porta San Gallo, and Porta San Frediano — will light up from 6 pm to midnight every evening.  F-Light will expand beyond the historic center for the first time this year and illuminate the Fortezza da Basso’s fountain, Piazza Niccolò Tommaseo in Settignano, Piazza Elia della Costa, the pedestrian walkway connecting the Cascine to the Isolotto area, and the Park of San Donato in Novoli.

Campo di Marte, home of ACF Fiorentina Serie A soccer team, will be illustrated by colored lights corresponding to the four city districts involved in Florence’s “Calcio Storico,”  an annual sports match reenacting a centuries-old tradition.

The kick-off of the holiday season also will bring a new permanent external lighting system for San Miniato, allowing for special color displays for  extra enhancement during special occasions throughout the year. Adding a new nocturnal face to Piazza Santissima Annunziata, the statue of Ferdinando I de ‘Medici will receive a new spotlight as well.

In addition to the F-light festival installations, residents and visitors can expect to see 32 trees placed throughout city squares. Following tradition, Piazza del Duomo will have the most spectacular tree ,15-meter (49 feet) hight, with the grand lighting ceremony scheduled for December 8 at 4:30 pm.  Others of the same size will be set in Piazzale Michelangelo, Galluzzo’s Piazza Acciaiuoli, Piazza Pietro Leopoldo, and many more. Two Christmas trees with decorations by local elementary school children have been set up in front of the church of Santo Spirito.  Even tree trunks along Florence’s outer boulevards (viali di circonvallazione) will glow red from lights wrapped around them while the branches above will radiate in white.  (amelia johnson/additional reporting by madison perez)