Tours, Talks, Music & an Ethnic Aperitivo at the ‘Balagan Cafè’

This summer, a cocktail hour with live music outdoors with free admission returns to Florence. The Synagogue gardens (via Farini 6, in the Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood) will once more be transformed on Thursday nights during August into a Balagan Café—Hebrew for “merry chaos,” in the spirit of the temple’s foundation.  In the 19th century, an appointed commission chose one Jewish architect and two Catholic architects to build the splendid, Moorish-style synagogue, which was inaugurated in 1882.  On Thursday, August 19, guided visits, talks and entertainment will be offered starting at 7 pm, continuing throughout the evening.  Admission is free (except for food and tours) and people of all faiths are encouraged to attend.

Gates open at the garden on August 19 at 7 pm, followed by a series of live music concerts (7:30 and 9:30 pm).  The former features up-and-coming talents, while the latter will headline Enrico Fink, Mauro Grossi and Matteo Scarpettini in a presentation of traditional Jewish music of Venice and Livorno.  To enter, guests must display a “Green Pass” or their country’s equivalent attesting to having received at least one Covid vaccination.

Tours of the Synagogue will be available from 6 to 8 pm, reservations necessary by calling 055 290383).  A dinner of Hebrew specialties from different nations including couscous, hummus and eggplant Moroccan style served starting at 8 pm, prepared by chefs Michele Hagen and Jean Michel Carasso (€10, reservation necessary: book at  A talk illustrating the life and career of late Venetian Jewish community leader Leo Jesurum is also scheduled (8:30 pm).  (rosanna cirigliano)