Captivating cultural events for Italophiles

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An artisanal garden party in Florence

Artigianato e Palazzo aims to frame ancient crafts in a contemporary context

For 2022, at Florence’s (arguably Italy’s) premier craft and craft fair – a three-day event on the grounds of Palazzo Corsini al Prato – there will be live demonstrations, chefs from the Cordon Bleu school of Florence preparing signature dishes, and a showcase for San Patrignano, the renowned residential community that helps recovering drug addicts, the homeless, and the marginalized follow new viable paths of life through training in carpentry and the arts applied. Now in its 28th edition, still led by its founder, Neri Torrigiani, alongside Sabina Corsini (the daughter of his longtime late patron, Princess Giorgiana Corsini), Artigianato e Palazzo is more than ever an effort to place old trades – from leatherwork and embroidery to metalwork, ceramics and crystal work – in the contemporary context they deserve. This is an opportunity to observe artisans at work and interact with them in person, while enjoying the lemonadegardens and lounges on the ground floor of one of the most beautiful private houses in the city. September 16 to 18, artigianatoepalazzo.it

The Palazzo Corsini al Prato in Florence

The Palazzo Corsini al Prato in Florence © Susanna Stigler

Stay: In keeping with the theme, be small and artisanal: Ottantotto’s seven rooms are spread over four floors on Via de’ Serragli, in the heart of Oltrarno, Florence’s left bank. They are decorated with works of contemporary art and renovated antiques and all have 24-hour access to a lounge and a terrace on the ground floor. From 140€, ottotantottofirenze.it


A panorama of art in Puglia

The old port of Monopoli in Puglia

The old port of Monopoli in Puglia © Ignazio Silicati/Comune di Monopoli

Last summer, Italics – the content event consortium of Italian art galleries – organized the inaugural edition of Panorama, its three-day traveling exhibition, on the small island of Procida. Extensive reconnaissance and careful conservation have brought different periods of art into dialogue both with each other and with Procida’s maze of squares, courtyards and galleries, resulting in a dynamic experience full of treasure-hunting moments. This year, Italics takes Panorama to Monopoli, one of the white towns on the Adriatic coast of Puglia. 70 works by 60 artists – including Stanley Whitney, Alighiero Boetti, Mimmo Rotella and rising Roman star Gianni Politi – will be installed in aristocratic palaces and narrow passageways, churches and monasteries, as well as stables and squares paved. There will also be live events – including famed photographer Massimo Vitali photographing myriad locals diving into the sea and swimming at dawn on September 1, a centuries-old local tradition believed to ensure good health throughout Winter. September 1 to 4, italic.art

Don Ferrante comprises 10 rooms built into the ramparts of the old town of Monopoli

Don Ferrante comprises 10 rooms built into the ramparts of the old town of Monopoli

The swimming pool of the converted masseria Il Melograno

The swimming pool of the converted masseria Il Melograno

Stay: Don Ferrante is everyone’s favorite address in Monopoli’s old town, with just 10 whitewashed rooms in a fortified palace built into the city walls, a rooftop swimming pool and a handful of terraces and lounges. Classes. Just an eight-minute drive from town is Il Melograno, one of Puglia’s original converted masseries, with understated country-chic rooms, a generous pool, and its own beach club, Tamerici, nearby. Don Ferrante, from €300, donferrante.it; Il Melograno, from €280, melograno.com


A muscular expression of tradition in ancient Viterbo

Facchini carries the crowned sculpture of Saint Rose at La Macchina di Santa Rosa

Facchini carries the crowned sculpture of Saint Rose at La Macchina di Santa Rosa

If you enjoy your cultural events with a purely human side, consider a weekend in the medieval town of Viterbo in central Lazio. An extraordinary event known as La Macchina di Santa Rosa has been held here every year since 1258 to mark the funeral procession of a revered local saint. Over the centuries, the machinery – a commemorative sculpture in the form of a tower, richly decorated and lit by candles (and later, strands of electric lights) and crowned with an icon of Saint Rose herself – grew in size; the current iteration, in use since 2015, is over 30m tall and weighs five tonnes. This is where the “could” part comes in: at 9 p.m. on September 3, it is carried, by a hundred hardy and highly trained inhabitants known as facini, for an entire kilometer through the historic center of Viterbo. He swings; he enumerates; the men sweat and groan – as do many of the thousands of spectators who throng the squares and streets to witness this rare and thrilling spectacle, unique enough to have been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage event. There is a small but fascinating La Macchina museum in the town which is also worth a visit. September 3, comune.viterbo.it

The converted farmhouse at Tenuta di Paternostro

The converted farmhouse at Tenuta di Paternostro

Candles and lanterns light up a private dinner in the renovated barn

Candles and lanterns light up a private dinner in the renovated barn

Stay: Tenuta di Paternostro is a beautiful 31-hectare horse farm converted into a country house 20 minutes’ drive from Viterbo. It’s owned by former fashion executive Olivia Mariotti, and its five suites are the chicest for miles. Mariotti’s secret weapons are its huge vegetable gardens and excellent chefs; stay an extra night to enjoy a private dinner in the renovated barn, dotted with kilims and suzanis and lit by dozens of lanterns. Bed and breakfast from 200 €, tenutadipaternostro.it


Row with the current in Venice

Gondoliers in period costume sail during the Regata Storica

Gondoliers in period costume sail during the Regata Storica © Alamy

Venice has its two Biennales and its Festival del Cinema. But for a certain cohort, his most exciting celebration of excellence is and always will be his Regata Storica, the pinnacle of the city. Voga alla Veneta calendar of rowing events, a tradition whose roots go back at least to the middle of the 13th century. Things start with a pretty maritime spectacle, in the form of a 16th-century-style opening parade, held by gondoliers in period costume, which winds its way up the Grand Canal. A series of competitions ensue: races for young rowers and ladies, a six-oar regatta, a men’s gondola final. The nomenclature of boats – mascareta, disdotona, caolina, pupparine – will be enough on its own to get a few bookings of their flights. It’s both a legitimate sport and one of Venice’s greatest expressions of pride and heritage. september 4, regatatoricavenezia.it

A Venetian bed and breakfast at the Gritti Palace

A Venetian bed and breakfast at the Gritti Palace

A Zattere Junior Suite at Il Palazzo Experimental

A Zattere Junior Suite at Il Palazzo Experimental © Patrick Locqueneux/Mr Tripper

The Canal della Giudecca seen from the front of the hotel

The Canal della Giudecca seen from the front of the hotel © Patrick Locqueneux/Mr Tripper

Stay: If a front-row seat justifies a bucket-list expense, you can’t do better than Gritti’s delightful Venetian interiors and timeless terrace. For great value with a waterfront location in Dorsoduro, book into Il Palazzo Experimental — its 32 rooms are stylish and fun, it has a lively cocktail bar, and the best pizza in town is a few doors down in Oke. The Gritti Palace, from €850, collectiondeluxe.com; Il Palazzo Experimental, from around €200, palazzoexperimental.com


Contemporary sculpture with Roman roots

Cat sitting on a green wicker chair, 1996-1997, by Setsuko

Cat sitting on a green wicker chair, 1996-1997, by Setsuko © Setsuko. Photography: Zarko Vijatovic. Courtesy of Gagosian

For 15 years, artist Setsuko Klossowska de Rola – the widow of French-Polish painter Balthus, and known colloquially as Setsuko – lived at the Villa Medici in Rome, when Balthus was director of the French Academy. It was there that she first met the ceramist Benoît Astier de Villatte, who himself lived as a child at the Villa Medici. A long and fruitful bond was formed; Today, Setsuko produces ceramic works in her studio at the Astier de Villatte workshop: both collaborative series and her own sculptures – oaks, magnolias and lemon trees, embellished with floral and fruit motifs – rendered in her signature in white enamelled terracotta. In September, these monumental works, along with additional wood and bronze sculptures, and drawings and paintings dating from Setsuko’s time in Rome in the 1960s until the pandemic, will be featured in a major career retrospective at the Roman outpost of Gagosian – the first time the artist has exhibited in the Eternal City since 1979. In the trees II, from September 8 to October 29, gagosian.com

The restaurant of the Hotel Vilòn in Rome

The restaurant of the Hotel Vilòn in Rome

Stay: The super polite Hotel Vilòn ticks all the boxes: pretty rooms, super central coordinates (overlooking the private gardens of Palazzo Borghese), a lush courtyard, friendly service. For being a more-or-less literal hop-and-skip from Gagosian’s Via Francesco Crispi location, CasaCau’s groovy contemporary apartments are a good, value-for-money option. Hotel Vilon, from €650, hotelvilon.com; CasaCau, from €270 for a 2-bed studio, casacau.com

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