January is commonly referred to as the month of a thousand and one ideas (... as you the new year starts!) The new year has just begun and most of us have already started to plan projects for the coming months. If we were to graphically show the month of January, the first thing that comes to my mind is an erupting volcano!
While Christmas has passed, it isn't yet a distant memory as all of the cities you will chance upon are still decorated and illuminated by coloured lights, keeping a bit of the Christmas magic in the air just a little bit longer, at least until the Epiphany has passed. And Florence, with its marvelous monuments, sculptures and sights is especially surrounded by this magical atmosphere, contributing to extending the holiday cheer.
If you're here at the start of the month, there are still several events that are tied to Christmas festivals and traditions, but as the month continues we hope to offer a few more ideas of what Florence and surroundings have to offer throughout the month.
Snow, Fashion &...Beer
At the top of this section, there’s one of the most eagerly awaited events by all lovers of...beer! Birraio dell'anno is a competition for choosing the best brewer in Italy. Being in its 7th year, this interesting manifestation is traditionally housed in the Obihall theatre, where visitors will have the opportunity to try out a 100 beers selections, chosen among the best artisan beers in Italy; brewers will serve their prestigious products by describing how they are made, where ingredients come from and many other curiosities about the tasteful world of beers (from January 15 to 17)! Details on the official website.
And now for some winter fun at the Winter Park, a snow park in the heart of Florence! If you feel like spending a fun day on the snow, you don’t need to check out the weather forecast (we're keeping our fingers crossed for getting at least a bit of snow this winter, it has been so mild!), nor do you need to drive to the closest ski slopes. The garden of the Obihall has been turned into a winter snow park with an ice skating rink and snow tube downhill slope (the modern sleigh, in this case a rubber boat for sliding on the iced slope), with lessons for all levels, from beginners and children to more advance (from the 28th of October to March 6).
Florence dedicates the beginning of the new year to the annual date with fashion: starting from January 12th, the Fortezza da Basso is going to be home to a rich calendar of events. First, Pitti Immagine Man and Woman (12th-15th of January), then Pitti Immagine Kids (21st-23rd of January), and Pitti Immagine Filati (27th-29th of January). We highly recommend attending those eagerly awaited fairs if you’re fond of fashion style :-) For more inormation and detail about the calendar, browse the official website.
Epiphany in Florence and surroundings
If you happen to be in Florence on the 6th of January - on the Epiphany - we suggest attending the Cavalcade of the Three Wise Men. It's a traditional event evoking the arrival of the Magi, the Three Wise Men, in Bethlehem with their gifts, searching for the Newborn Son of God. A wonderful parade in historical costume winds its way through the streets of Florence, leaving from Palazzo Pitti and ending in Piazza del Duomo, where a life-size nativity has been set up and is substituted with a "life" nativity on the day of the Epiphany. For more details on the manifestation, pictures and more, take a look at this article.
Another Cavalcade of the Yhree Wise Men will be set up in Borgo San Lorenzo, a quaint village located in the Mugello valley, with a parade of people dressed up in historical costumes winding its way through the tiny streets of this enchanting location (on January 9, while on January 6, Fucecchio will be hosting a parade of people in traditional costumes for the local Cavalcade). Borgo San Lorenzo will also host a mechanical nativity until January 10, while until January 6 you'll have the chance to visit the one set up in Via Vespucci in Barberino di Mugello.
In Londa, the historical reenactment of the life nativity will give life to an entire day dedicated to a historical representation of the society during Jesus' times. Old crafts, traditional markets and obviously the arrival of the three Wise Men will be the perfect background to many nativity scenes spread out all over the village and taking part to the artistic competition Presepi in Progress (the winner will be proclaimed at the end of the day - January 6th).
Another traditional event taking place on the 6th of January is the Epiphany Train: a steam locomotive, leaving from Santa Maria Novella rail station in Florence and heading to San Piero a Sieve will entertain all passengers during the Epiphany and offer, on arrival, a rich and tasty buffet to everyone. More information about ticket costs, hours and online ticket presale on the San Piero a Sieve proloco website. Piazza Boccaccio in Certaldo will be home to Befana in Piazza on January 6, while children and grown-ups will be eagerly awaiting for the Befana arrival also in Dicomano, where the old lady will give presents and sweets to everyone a bit earlier, on January 3: Christmas stands, entertainment and much more to spend a fun day out with the family.
Ice skating fun!
The Winter Park is certainly an interesting and fun attraction in the heart of Florence, but it’s not the only one! There are many other outdoor ice skating rinks spread out all over the province, which throughout the months of December and January offer a chance to spend a great day of fun! The first one is right in the center of the Cradle of Renaissance, at the Parterre, easily reachable both by foot, public transportation and by car, since there’s also a big parking lot closeby (from the 30th of November to the 10th of January). In Piazza del Carmine - Oltrarno - there will be the Villaggio di Babbo Natale (Santa's Village) until January 6, a chance to spend a day with the family with games and entertainment for kids and adults and a brand new ice skating rink.
Stepping out to the province, we head to the ice rink in Empoli (open until the 10th of January), Lastra a Signa (a covered ice rink) offering also a rest spot and entertainment for kids (until the 31th of January) and Scandicci, until the 11th of January.
Art & Surroundings
Want to start the new year under the sign of art? Mugello is usually referred to as "homeland of artists" so if you happen to drop by the area in early January, you couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate the new year than by visiting these interesting art exhibitions: Estemporanea in Mostra till January 6 in San Piero a Sieve (free entrance) and "Mugello terra di artisti: sculture e dipinti di Giorgio Rossi", an exposition focused on this XXth century artist, who has been one of the absolute protagonists of the early '900 Tuscan art (Villa Pecori Giraldi in Borgo San Lorenzo, until February 7 - open to public only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 7pm, more info on the Giorgio Rossi official website.
And what about Florence and its wealth of artistic exhibits, which run all the year round, spread out all over the city and housed inside some of the most enchanting palaces and museums in the Country? Read this article to see dates and locations of some among the current exhibitions in Florence and province, I'll give you a short preview: Van Gogh, Picasso, Munch and Matisse - just to cite a few - are on exhibit for a few more days in January at Palazzo Strozzi, while the Prince of Dreams and twenty majestic Renaissance tapestries will be exposed at Palazzo Vecchio till February 15. Finally, Carlo Portelli's works - a late Renaissance painter - will be flashing before your eyes through a wonderful exhibition at the Accademy Gallery, running until April.
Extraordinary Openings of the Florentine Museums during Christmas times
All museums of Florence will be closed on December 25 and January 1, 2016. The Uffizi Gallery, the Palatina and the Modern Art Galleries inside Palazzo Pitti and the Accademy Gallery will be closing an hour earlier on December 24 and 31. The Uffizi and the Accademy Gallery will be extraordinarily open until 11pm on Saturday December 19. Guided visits to the Aosta Duchess Apartments will be suspended from December 26 to January 6, while the Boboli Garden, the Porcelain and Silver Museums and the Costume Gallery wil be closed on Monday December 28 and January 4. All museums will be regularly open on the Epiphany, on January 6.