Florence’s International Women’s Day 2021

Conservator Elizabeth Wicks, one of the speakers of the Artemisia Gentileschi webinar

La Festa della Donna or International Women’s Day on March 8 brings a variety of events to Florence. Though Women’s Day was first started in the United States in 1909, it was not long after that many countries started to include it as a national holiday, with Italy commencing its celebrations in 1922.  As the day approaches its nearly 100th anniversary in Italy, it has since become a global celebration in which women’s achievements and issues throughout time are commemorated.

Always moving forward, Women’s Day has been parallel with many of the biggest social, political and economic movements both locally and globally. At the end of World War II in 1945,  the Women’s Union was created in Italy, by the next March it would be the nation’s first celebration of the day as a free nation. It was then that the tradition of giving bouquets of mimosa to women started. In the years following, Women’s Day has become a date where we acknowledge the historical and ongoing fight for racial equality, class welfare, feminism and gender rights and social responsibility, both throughout the world and here in Tuscany.  There were 117 femicides, gender-based murders by men, in the region between 2006 and 2019, and 1,075 requests for help arrived at Artemisia, a Florence women’s shelter, in 2020 alone.

Now in 2021, Women’s Day continues its long history, remembering the past and moving towards new possibilities. Despite the Covid-19 restrictions, Women’s Day continues and to mark its 99th anniversary of La Festa della Donna, Magenta has curated a list of events that will take place on Monday, March 8, in Florence. 

Illuminating the Historical Doors of Florence

Women’s Day celebrations in Florence will commence at 6:30 pm on the March 7 with the illumination of the Florence’s six historical city gates. The color of the lights directly symbolizes the flower of the day, the bright yellow blossoms of the mimosa flower.   The light show will be repeated on the evening of March 8.

The six gates are Porta San Gallo, Porta alla Croce, Porta San Niccolò, Porta Romana, Porta San Frediano e Porta al Prato.  Additionallym on March 8 from 6:30 to 10 pm, the church of San Miniato, the portico of the Hospital of Innocents in piazza Santissima Annunziata,  and the Military Chemical Pharmaceutical Institute will also be lit up to join in this day of remembrance and celebration.

The Artemisia Connection Webinar at the Casa Buonarroti Museum 

The Casa Buonarroti museum is hosting a webinar with Advancing Women Artists on Artemisia Gentileschi’s time in Florence, her career as a painter and what her life as a female artist would have been like 400 years ago. 

Artemisia Gentileschi is known as one of the great painters of the 17th century, trained as a child in painting by her father, Orazio Lomi Gentileschi, Artemisia’s life is a story of hardship, and difficulty but also of success. Raped when she was fifteen by one of her father’s co-workers, she withstood seven months of intense scrutiny during the case’s criminal trial at court although she was the victim. The accused, painter Agostino Tassi, would only serve one year in prison for his crime. 

Shortly after, Artemisia was married and her and her husband moved to Florence in 1613. It was in Florence that the young Baroque painter would create many of her art masterpieces. Soon after moving to Florence, Michelangelo the Younger commissioned Artemisia to do a series of paintings inspired by the virtues of his great uncle, Michelangelo. Though Artemisia was five months pregnant at the time and she had to paint the series on the ceiling, the Allegory of Inclination would establish the painter as a tour de force within the early 17th century Florentine art world. For her commission, Artemisia painted a nude angel holding a compass for which she was paid three times more than the other artists who were also painting in the series. The angelic figure is said to closely resemble the artist herself, and though the nudity would later be covered up by Leonardo di Buonarroti, it still remains one of Artemisia’s greatest works. 

Casa Buonarroti’s webinar commences at 12:30 (Eastern Standard Time). Cristina Acidini, President of Casa Buonarroti will lead the introduction of the webinar followed by a conversation between conservator Elizabeth Wicks and Linda Falcone, Director of Advancing Women Artists. 

You can register for the webinar here: https://iicwashington.esteri.it/iic_washington/en/gli_eventi/calendario/webinar-the-artemisia-connection.html

(In)Visibile:  The Stories, The Commitment, the Sacrifices and the Successes of Women Today

This event in live streaming from Palazzo Vecchio’s Salone de’ Cinquecento (6 pm) will showcase the lives of four women: entrepreneur Maria Stella Reali Bigazzi;  Maria Allegrini, physics professor at the University of Pisa; Maria Luisa Brandi, a Florence surgeon specialized in endocrinology and metabolism and president of the Italian Foundation for the Research of Bone Disease; and photography and documentary film maker Clara Vannucci.  The evening will be moderated by deputy mayor Alessia Bettini.

In closing, Mayor Dario Nardella will interview RAI TV journalist Giovanna Botteri, detailing her glorious career in covering news in hotspots in the four corners of the globe.  Botteri became a familiar media face in the Coronavirus emergency thanks to her dramatic nightly reports on the 2020 outbreak of the pandemic live from China.

The Female Alphabet: True Stories, Women’s Stories

Theatre School Quinte OFF is streaming a showcase of actors and actresses of every age reciting poetry, stories and memories about the lives, loves and pain of women in daily life. The showcase speaks out about the domestic violence and abuse faced by many women on a daily basis and is further dedicated to Michela Noli, the woman killed by her ex-husband in Florence in 2016.

The show will be streamed directly on Quinte OFF’s YouTube page at 9:30 pm on March 8.  The aim is to raise funds to support the Association Artemisia, an anti-violence center in Florence supporting abused women and children in a fight against domestic violence. 

Putting Women’s Names on the City Map

The streets, terraces and gardens of Florence will be renamed in honor of influential woman whose courage and determination has helped countless others. This series of public ceremonies will kick off at 12:30 pm on March 8 with the dedication of a garden on the Lungarno Colombo to Tina Anselmi, WW2 partisan, trade union member, parliamentarian and the first woman of the Italian republic. Anselmi was also the president of the Parliamentary Commission of the Inquiry of the P2 Lodge. 

Following, on March 15 at 11 am, the Library of the Oblate’s terrace will be dedicated to Marielle Franco. A Brazilian politician, sociologist and human rights activist, Franco was outspoken about police brutality and killings and was also elected as the city councillor of the Municipal Chamber of Rio de Janeiro. On March 14, 2018, Franco was shot multiple times in her car after attending a discussion on issues concerning young Black women. The assassins were discovered to be two ex-police officers. Following her murder, Franco has become a symbol of strength against persecution, a fighter for equal rights and an advocate against violence and brutality. 

A street will also be named near the Careggi as a tribute to the first Italian female surgeon, Maria Petroncini on March 19 at 11 am.

Plant a Tree in Guatemala to Support Rural Women 

Treedom start their long distance campaign to plant trees in Guatemala with the aim of supporting and spreading awareness of women’s roles in the country’s rural areas. The Italian platform has roots in Florence and will work alongside Amka, an organization based in Rome who has been working in Guatemala since 2009. With the intention of giving women to plant and profit from the fruits of these trees, the project is not only environmental but works to provide economic benefits to the local communities in the region.

#GrandiDonneaFirenze on all Social Media Channels

The City of Florence’s Facebook and Instagram pages encourage everyone in Florence to use the hashtag #GrandiDonneaFirenze for posts and stories dedicated to all women. 

Whether the posts are dedicated to inspiring women in your own life or influential women who have contributed to Florence’s history, the City of Florence welcomes all stories in celebration of Women’s History Month throughout March. (mirabella shahidullah/additional reporting by rosanna cirigliano)