Santa Croce’s 2021 Genius Loci Festival

The church of Santa Croce

Genius Loci is back, and Florence is ready again to discover its genius.   The cultural festival that was cancelled last year returns on Thursday, September 23 through Saturday the 25th.  This year’s edition, offering a message of hope, with the theme Reflection on Memory and the Future, characterizes the need for people everywhere to reach a point of normalcy and optimism for the future.

Two nights and a dawn of events allow the public to discover one of the symbolic places of Florence, the monumental complex of Santa Croce.  The basilica, dating back to the 13th century and the largest Franciscan church in the world, contains 16 chapels, Renaissance frescoes, tombs and cenotaphs.  Over the centuries it has witnessed events relating to Florentine history and become the final resting place for many important and influential Florentines.  Michelangelo, Galileo and Niccolo Machiavelli are buried there and cenotaphs and memorials to Dante, Da Vinci and Florence Nightingale can be found.

Cristina Acidini, President of the Opera of Santa Croce expresses, “In a time that is still difficult due to the pandemic, which asks everyone for special courage, we want to help bring a message of hope that comes from the creative dialogue of women and men and from the ever-fruitful links between memory and present time, between art and spirituality, between words and music.”

The festival opens on Thursday, September 23 at 6 pm in the Cenacolo with writers Chiara Frugoni and Dacia Maraini participating in a talk entitled “The Wasted Half:  Women of Yesterday and Today”.  Beginning with the lives of women of the Middle Ages, nuns, mothers, queens and writers who had the courage to beak the barriers of a rigidly proscribed female destiny, it exposes how much the family bond can today affect a woman in the full expression of her desires and possibilities.  Following, the writer Stefano Bartezzaghi talks with journalist Raffaele Palumbo in “The Genius and Commonplaces,” a conversation about Dante and creativity.  The evening culminates with a solo concert by Elina Duni, Albanian musician performing on vocals, piano, guitar and percussion.

Also on Thursday, audiences can view the classic silent film from 1911 “L’inferno” screened in the Great Cloister (Chiostro Grande).  Based on the Divine Comedy and recently restored, it will be accompanied by music and words.

On Friday the 24th at 8:45 pm in the Cloister, saxophonist Dimitri Grechi Espinosa and photographer Paolo Ninfa bring us “On the Trail of Spirituality,” a live soundtrack, multi-projection event to rediscover ancient gestures and daily life throughout the world.  Following in the Cenacolo (refectory), John Greaves, Welsh bassist, singer and composer, and multi-instrumentalist Annie Barbazza will perform a concert and recital of music and poetry.

In the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, a concert featuring the bandoneon, oud and bass, can be enjoyed by night owls or early risers.  The Great Cloister hosts this sonic journey between jazz, minimalist atmospheres and Middle Eastern ethno-jazz.

Please note that access to all events requires a Green Pass or other documentation certifying full vaccination for COVID-19.  All events on September 23 – 25 are by reservation only which can be made through the website

Genius Loci events will also be broadcast live on FM 93.6 and 98.9 with live streaming on with the Controradio App.  (rita kungel)