The 2023 Festival of Europe, from Conferences, Concerts & Garden Openings

Villa Salviati will open to the public during the ‘Festival of Europe’


The Festival of Europe comprising the “State of the Union” and the Notte Blu (Blue Night) will take place again in Fiesole and Florence. These two events, happening in conjunction with each other focus on contemporary politics in addition to culture, history and art.  This year, the “State of the Union” conference will be held from May 4 to May 6 at the Badia Fiesolana, Palazzo Vecchio, and features the opening of the gardens of Villa Salviati. The remainder of the Festival of Europe will take place from May 4 to May 9 at Piazza Santa Croce, Piazza della Repubblica, and Palazzo Vecchio.

Since the “State of the Union” is themed “Building Europe in times of uncertainty,” the guests will discuss and reflect on policies including challenges to democracy, geopolitics and EU priorities, green transition and energy security, rethinking global economic scenarios, and digital and technological transitions.

Keynote speakers will include Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Tobias Billström; Director, UNESCO Liaison Office to the AUC, ECA and Representative of Ethiopia Rita Bissoonauth; High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President, European Commission Josep Borrell Fontelles; First Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digitalisation for Spain Nadia Calviño; Vice-President of the European Parliament, Dita Charanzová; Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank Frank Elderson; Director-General for Energy for the European Commission Ditte Juul Jørgensen; and Member of the European Parliament, Eva Maydell.

“State of the Union” presentations are scheduled on Thursday, May 4 at Badia Fiesolana and Friday, May 5 at Palazzo Vecchio. These events are invitation only, but will be streamed on the “State of the Union” website for viewers to tune-in.

The Festival of Europe continues with happenings open to the public and catered towards the younger generations on May 5.  These include “Towards a More Sustainable Tourism in the Mediterranean” in Piazza della Repubblica, “Step forward, Europe!” at the Erasmus+ Space INDIRE in Piazza della Repubblica, informational stands, and workshops and artistic events in Palazzo Vecchio.

May 5 is also the once-a-year opening day of Villa Salviati (Via Bolognese 156), which holds the historical archives of the European Union. Here, there will be historical reenactments, live music, readings of documents from the archive, and entertainment–such as circus performances–for all ages.

On the last day of the festival, May 9, there will be panels and performances for the “Women’s Intellect” event in Palazzo Strozzi Sacrati (Piazza del Duomo, 10).  Cinema La Compagnia (Via Cavour 50/r) will also host a film screening “Tell it Like a Woman”at 6:30 pm.

The Blue Night, representing the blue of the European Union flag, is also returning to Florence on May 6. The thought-provoking Carpet of the World for Peace will be on display in Piazza Santa Croce from 3 to 6 pm thanks to Colors for Peace and RFK Human Rights Italia. The carpet is the work of women from 20 countries and was donated to the National Park of Peace of Sant’Anna di Stazzema (a Tuscan village site of a Nazi massacre), which is generously loaning it for this event. At Limonaia of Villa Strozzi (Via Pisana, 77), “Telling about Europe: words and images on the front line” with Cecilia Sala (journalist) and Stefano Schirato (international photojournalist) will commence at 7 pm. After the panel, there will be a free concert starting at 10:30 pm. (Abby Capra)