Ringing in a Florence New Year, 2019

Photo of holiday decorations on via Tornabuoni by Kayla Smith

With this year coming to a close, plans to ring in 2019 with joy and festivities are being finalized throughout Florence.  Classical and rock music, comedy shows, medieval spectaculars, gourmet and traditional dining and, of course, the midnight brindisi, or toast of bubbly for the new year.

Florentines begin the celebrations with a cenone or sumptuous dinner usually with four, five or even seven courses.  Many restaurants serve special menus; your table is reserved for you for the evening and usually includes a midnight toast of spumante or prosecco.  Be sure to make reservations for the feast in your chosen restaurant.

On New Year’s Eve Italians traditionally eat lentils, believed to bring money and good fortune in the coming year.  Known as The Feast of San Silvestro, the dinner often includes cotechino, a spicy sausage and zampone, a stuffed pig’s trotter, intended to represent richness for the coming year.


The orchestra and choir of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino will perform a New Year’s Eve concert of Ravel, Stravinsky and an original composition of conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen at 5 pm.  For tickets and information see the web site.


With its splendid views over the River Arno and the city, Piazzale Michelangelo will ring in the new year with pop music.  The festivities begin at 9 pm with singer, actor and mathematician Lorenzo Baglioni entertaining the crowd.  Next Baby K goes onstage.  Known for her best-selling single “Roma-Bangkok,” a duet with Giusy Ferreri and “Voglio ballare con te,” the Italian rapper is sure to energize the audience.  Singer-songwriter Francesco Renga, winner at San Remo in 2005, brings in the New Year sponsored by the municipality of Florence, with festivities continuing until 1:30 am. Street food stands will be set up for the crowd.

The event will be limited to 14,000 people and there will be security checks with strict enforcement prohibiting pepper spray, glass bottles or fireworks in the piazza.  The evening will be broadcast live on Radio Bruno 102.1 and 103 Mhz) and on television (channels 256 and 683 digital).


The historic center will be closed to all traffic.  Traveling by foot is definitely the best way to get from place to place.  The tram and rerouted key bus lines will operate all night, and shuttle buses have been scheduled to reach Piazzale Michelangelo from Porta Romana (8 – 11 pm) and return (until 3 am).  Buses 6, 11, 14, 17, 22 and 23 will extend service, running until 2:30 am.  For up to date information, see the ATAF website.


The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, has stated that security measures will be strictly enforced in all outdoor venues in the city.  There will be guards and police officers checking for glass bottles, pepper spray containers and all fireworks.  Items of this nature will be confiscated.

All events in the following squares offer free admission.


The Florence Chamber Orchestra and the Lugansk Orchestra of the Ukraine offer a free classical concert, beginning at 11 pm, in this historic piazza facing the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s center of government for almost eight centuries.  The program, featuring waltzes, polkas and opera arias, is designed for easy listening.


Pino and family at Salumeria Verdi, located at  via Verdi 36/r will be serving portions of a special menu focusing on seafood (including salmon) and truffle based dishes until 6 am; true to the locale’s nickname — Pino’s Sandwiches —  panini may also be ordered.


For family fun, holiday makers can head down to Parco dell’Anconella on the banks of the Arno where Cirk Fantastik will entertain with games, clowns, acrobats, tight-rope walkers and general frivolity for children and adults.  Shows begin at 4 pm on December 28 through January 2.  A special New Year’s Eve program with a cabaret dinner and live music is planned.  For further information see www.cirkfantastik.com


Those who prefer rappers and DJ sets playing electronic music should go to this architectural laboratory housed in a former tobacco processing facility.  The large space is sure to provide room for dancing and partying (via delle Cascine, 35; free admission).  Expect to find food trucks and pop-up bars.


After a sumptuous dinner, New Year’s revelers may want to wander over one of the bridges to the Oltrarno, literally the other side of the Arno.  There one can find strolling musicians playing jazz and gospel.  The Pilgrims Gospel Choir, Eric Waddell and the Abundant Life ensemble and Large Street Band will provide non-stop music in Piazza del Carmine.


Fans of disco and dancing should hop on Tram 1 to Scandicci where at Piazza della Resistenza the party “Disco Resistenza” with music of the 70s will be in full force.  Merrymakers can dance in the New Year to music of Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, Abba, Village People, Gloria Gaynor and the Blues Brothers.  The music begins with Medemo, winner of the Young Rock Band contest, doing a live set.  Next Forever 7eventy entertains with all the best of 70s rock and roll disco music.  The party continues through the night with a DJ set by Lord.


In Florence sometime before midnight celebrants begin gathering along the river anticipating the fireworks offering a continuous light show on the Arno.  The best viewing spots will be from one of the bridges.  Many hotels join the pyrotechnics show by setting off displays from their rooftops.  (rita kungel)