100,000 Florentines and tourists alike flooded the streets of Florence’s historical center last night for the Notte Bianca “Insonnia Creativa”. The creative (and apparently low-cost) solution of interventions in the city’s piazze, on the bridges, late openings of museums and private institutions spread crowds out at every corner of the city and made everyone a part of something positive. People were generally good natured and polite, although it was hard to even walk in certain areas due to the crowds. The city was well organized with portable toilets and emergency staff on hand.
Here’s my account of what I saw, liked, and photographed.
We started out with dinner with my inlaws at Trattoria il Pennello near via del Corso (traditional but good Florentine restaurant well frequented by locals); then walked from there over to Ponte alla Carraia (transformed into a forest), along the lungarni, stopping in piazza santo spirito and piazza del Carmine.
The Arno was protagonist of the evening, a joining feature of the city beautifully lit on both sides with the installation “No Dump: pimp my river” (no artist name given). The photography exhibit “Riverboom: Firenze vs. il mondo” edited by Valentina Gensini was projected on the facade of Santo Spirito and can be seen all month as giant posters in 100 of the city’s advertising spaces; this was probably my favourite installation, I could have watched it for an hour.
In Piazza del Carmine they set up luminous coloured stages for people to sit and watch “Blah blah blah night” with a series of performances and concerts. We stuck around to hear (and photograph) our friend Gianpaolo d’Amico on guitar accompany sound designers Lorelei & Pulse for a beautiful multi-sensorial electronic music show.
Apparently we also missed a lot of things – I wish we could go out again today and take it all in. A few installations in the city’s piazze will be available for a few weeks, including the “Orto-grafia” in Largo Annigoni (the piazza in front of Dada and La Nazione). There were architectonic elements added to Piazza Duomo that I am really sorry not to have seen, and I don’t know if they’ll be staying up.
I know we can’t do a “notte bianca” every week – and frankly I’m not a late-night person – but I hope that we can continue to produce “creativity” with this kind of energy. What I saw was a lot that could be termed “Authorized Street Art” produced by some of the city’s best collectives and associations. Many of the producers of the White Night are the same as those involved in animating the new spaces of Le Murate, the ex-jail that is finally open daily noon to midnight for a calendar of activities from theatre to installations and conferences. Both the success of the Notte Bianca and that of the first few events at Le Murate (amongst them one I organized with The Florentine and BettaKnit) demonstrate that Florence is a city that knows how to have a good time.