Florence Landmarks Reopen & Online Concerts

The Florence cathedral, or Duomo

Florence will remain a “yellow” zone with relatively mild Covid-19 anti-contagion restrictions until at least January 30.  Following the recent reopening of city and a few-state run museums, additional sites and exhibitions are becoming newly accessible from Monday to Friday this week, and beyond, if “yellow” status is maintained.  Theatres remain closed; in compensation, a rich program of classical concerts in streaming, by the Orchestra della Toscana (ORT) and the Amici della Musica, is on offer in the immediate future.


The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (aka the Duomo), along with its majestic Cupola, will once again welcome visitors starting on January 25, the Duomo from 10:15 am to 4 pm, and the Cupola between 12:45 and 6 pm.  The ticket office is open 10:15 am – 4:15 pm.  The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo cathedral museum and cathedral’s bell tower remains closed, although a virtual tour of the latter is available on the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore website.

The San Marco museum is once again open from 8:15 am to 1:50 pm, and has unveiled an updated look in the newly dubbed Fra Angelico Room, formerly known as the “Pilgrim Hospice.” The Fra Angelico Room will continue to exhibit one of the most important collections of early Renaissance works by the Dominican friar who lived and worked in the San Marco monastery in the 1400s. Funded by the Friends of Florence, the renovations are meant to cap off the year-long celebration of the museum’s 150th anniversary. Sixteen of the friar’s early Renaissance masterpieces–Deposition of Christ for the Strozzi chapel in Santa Trinita, Pala di Annalena and the Pala di San Marco–are featured in the new set up.  Renovations include new display cases, state of the art lighting, and a neutral color scheme. The works are now arranged in chronological order, accompanied by updated information panels in both Italian and English and didactics to increase visitor engagement.

As well, exhibitions have been reopening concurrently with the museums that host them, such as the Raphael show at Palazzo Vecchio. This multimedia retrospective of Raphael’s iconic paintings on the walls of the Sala d’Arme also includes masterpieces by his contemporaries, most notably Da Vinci and Michelangelo, which were to create a lasting influence on the artist from central Italy. Raphael’s story is told through a series of larger-than-life projections of the artist’s works in the niches created by the vaulted ceiling overhead, which reveal an evolution of style reflecting his local sojourn.  Also on display in the Sala d’Arme is Raphael’s treasured drawing “Portrait of a Bust of a Young Woman,” probably a preparatory sketch for a painting, which dates back to the artist’s Florentine years and is on loan from Lille’s Palais des Beaux-Arts.  Open 9 am – 7 pm, Thursday 9 am – 2 pm, admission is included in the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio.

The Dante 700 photo display by Massimo Sestini photo display can now be toured in the former refectory of the Santa Maria Novella complex through March 31 on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm.  Seven hundred years after his death, Dante Alighieri’s unprecedented legacy lives on throughout the streets of Italy, as visitors will be able to see.  Following in Dante’s footsteps, 23 images take the viewer to throughout Florence in addition to Venice, Rome, Verona, Poppi Castle, and finally Ravenna.  In true Sestini fashion, the ancient past is combined with his experimental and non-traditional modes of shooting.  The ticket price is comprised in the admission to Santa Maria Novella.


Through their YouTube channel, the Amici della Musica is drawing on their archives to present free steaming of landmark chamber concerts every Saturday at 4:15 pm, highlighting artists—including great pianists of the past—such as Aldo Ciccolini and Sviatoslav Richter.

The Orchestra della Toscana has scheduled five live concerts from Teatro Verdi online starting at 9 pm on consecutive Thursdays in a series designed to figuratively transport the listener beyond Italy. The January 28 performance on this theme, especially welcome in a period of pandemic travel limitations, highlights the Romantic musical style through the Hungarian compositions of Liszt and pieces by German composer Johannes Brahms.  The concert’s invited guests are conductor Stanislav Kochanovsky and piano soloist Pietro de Maria.  Russia is the next stop on February 4: violin soloist Sergej Krylov will be on the podium in a program dedicated to Tchaikovsky compositions for strings and orchestra.

The Argentine tango rhythms of Piazzola and de Falla takes center stage on February 18, guided by Nil Venditti, an ORT principal guest conductor, and accompanied by Ksenija Sidorova on the bandoneon.  Austria and Germany are the final destinations of the final evenings.  The February 25 performance will open with a Mendelssohn overture, followed by symphonies by Mozart and Hayden under the guidance of maestro Markus Stenz.  The last concert, on March 4, showcases Beethoven’s Concerto n. 4 for piano and orchestra, ending with Mozart’s “Jupiter” symphony.

Live streaming of these events will take place though the ORT YouTube channel and Facebook page.  (rosanna cirigliano/additional reporting by savannah camastro & cathy doherty)