Florence Celebrates the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Moon landing
A scene from the silent film “A Trip to the Moon”

Though it has no festival dedicated to 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Florence is hosting multiple events in commemoration this week, and all of them are connected to the arts.  Neil Armstrong’s self-described “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” took place on July 20, 1969.

Individual music performances, both new and old, have been worked into festivals to pay tribute to Apollo 11. On Wednesday is the second night of “Bac(h)k to the Moon,” a singular experience of cello concerts arranged around Florence’s new tram lines. The July 17 performance uses three stops in the T2 Vespucci line, with a flash mob at each one before two cellists perform one of Bach’s six suites at specific locations nearby, so be sure to check their schedule online for the details.

On a similar note, the Italian Brass Week will open on Sunday, July 21 with “Moon Love,” a song composed by Maestro Francesco Traversi specifically for the festival. The piece, interpreted by the Maggio Musicale Brass Ensemble will make its world premiere at 9:15 pm, in the Teatro del Maggio (piazzale Vittorio Gui).  At 10:30 pm, a trio of musicians, who play the piano, double bass, and percussion, will headline a concert entitled “Moon Jazz” (Buoneria via del Fosso Macinante 4, Cascine Park).  Reservations are required for dinner, the performance and access to telescopes on the restaurant terrace, in order to have a better look at the moon and the stars as you listen.

On the day of the anniversary itself, July 20, Apriti Cinema will hold a special double feature celebrating the Moon in film in the courtyard of the Uffizi, starting at 10 pm. The first movie, A Trip to the Moon, was made by pioneer silent director George Méliès in 1902 and is considered the first ever science fiction film. The second selection, Moonwalkers from 2015, is more tongue-in-cheek, as it explores the various conspiracy theories that the Moon landing in 1969 was faked by the CIA. Sitting under the stars to witness two works made more than a century apart is a wonderful way to commemorate how the Moon has inspired dreamers, on a day when the oldest of dreams finally became reality. (alex harrison)