Halloween in Florence

Written by Theresa Schroeder.

Florence is getting ready to liven up the night of Halloween.

There’s a new holiday in town.
Roughly fifteen years ago, somewhere just outside of Florence, there appeared an eerie glow on the late October horizon. There were whispers on the wind, not so much of pagan traditions passed down from the Britons, but of costume parties and the collection of candies. As time went by, as the soft, strange light in the distance changed ever-so-steadily, so with it did the landscape of a city at something like rest. The wildly sinister phrase, 'Trick or treat' wormed its way into the vocabularies of small children. Startling displays of spiders’ webs and witches’ cauldrons appeared in shop windows. The whispers once so cryptic grew into the voices of Hollywood actors and students newly-arrived from across the Atlantic.

Today those voices echo through the narrow streets of Florence, climbing the ancient walls like goblins. And as a new dawn approaches, as the luminescence materializes, reavealing itself as the jack-o-lantern’s fiery grin, the sounds of the voices are altogether overcome by terrified screams. Halloween, it all of its grotesque and commercialized glory, has arrived.

This dark prelude to All Saints Day has made its way to Italy by a peculiar route. Its Anglo-Saxon ancestor, Samhain, dwelt in the lands known today as Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It was there that the jack-o-lantern was born, although turnips, not pumpkins, wore his many faces then. The beloved tradition of going door to door in costume on a quest for chocolates was imposed later and likely by Americans, who often go so far in this day and age as to set up cardboard cemeteries in their front yards and miniature, skeleton-inhabited villages on their fireplace mantles.
In any event, a fundamentally altered, but otherwise intact Halloween has changed direction and reached Florence. Surely, at first glance, the sun-drenched hills of Tuscany seem an unlikely environment for a festival shrouded in mystery, but then consider just how many spectres, phantoms and ghosts must reside in those hills and how many must haunt a city that has endured so many centuries. Surely they would welcome the celebration. Surely they are in favour of being allowed one night each year wherein they can blend in and mingle.
Should you fancy mingling with them, donning your zombie mask, vampire fangs or even butterfly wings and spending a Friday night on a town annually transformed by slightly foreign festivities, we can offer a few suggestions:

Jazz Club (via Nuova de’Caccini, 3 Florence tel. 055-2479700 / 335-6146115) will be open from 9 p.m. until late all week. The venue will feature concerts from Tuesday through Saturday, including Jam Session and House Bafesta di Halloween with the incredible Zeenze Double Quartet on Tuesday and Wednesday. Music and dance to last long into the night for witches, vampires, zombies and any number of others. Arriving in costume is heartily encouraged, but not required.

Auditorium Flog Live (via Mercati, 24/B Florence tel. 055-487145) When Calibro 35 takes the stage, all of Florence will tremble. One night themed on the infamy of Italian mob films of the seventies. On stage will take place the debut of Afterhours, a new Florentine musical act which combines keyboard and sax. Also, Mariposa’s Enrico Gabrielli will perform alongside three highly talented musicians of a new generation. The visually enthralling portion of the evening will use parts of original films, mixed live with the help of a computer to integrate Horrorockdance by Ariel and Max de Riu, DJs (Rock FM-Rock Family) and ultimately wow and terrify audiences with his classic horror-splatter-gore video special. Doors open at 9:30. Entrance, 5€. 35
OMI Music Club (via Tevere 100, Sesto Fiorentino Fi. tel. 055-308462 or will host Nack Raw with dj S. Semeraro Friday night.

Taverna Gaia will celebrate Halloween night with Alica di Palaia (PI) as well as Nicola and her NoOne Band. Concert to begin around 10p.m. For those interested in a slightly more lavish celebration, however, there will be a dinner served in this fine restaurant beforehand. To reserve a table, call 058-7629048.

Rifrullo Restaurant (Via San Niccolo 55r, Florence) will celebrate Halloween night with a special dinner with pumpkins: from appetizers to dessert every plate offers a special edition of italian food. Little presents for witches during the evening... Only 30 euros, wines included.

Convivium, (Viale Europa:, Florence) aperitif, drink and music for Halloween night. From 7.30 pm.

OMI music club (via Tevere 100, Sesto Fiorentino, Firenze) live music with italian rock band and dj set.

Viper Theatre (Via Lombardia-Via Pistoise, Le Piagge) Alter*Nite, featureing Dr. Lorenz, Danex, Scasso, Sisma and others.  Party starts at 10p.m.  Entrance 10 euro.  For more information, call 055-318231 or email

Teatro del Castello (Piazza del Castello, Florence) Hosts Horrore.  22 euro per show.

Cafè Deluxeè (Piazza Independenza Ang. XXVII Aprile, Florence) presents Street Clerks and Family Friends.  Show starts at 8:30p.m.  Aperitivo at 7.  Entrance is free.

Regina Margherita (Via del Padule 25, Florence) Will host Horror Music Night, beginning at 10:30 p.m.  Prise is 25 euro per person and includes dinner.  For more information, contact 

Tan_Gram (Via de'Serragli 3r, Florence) Festivities commence at 9p.m. with special guest Dog Dj. For more information, visit

Tenax (Via Pratese 46r, Peretola Firenze) To host Peaches and Dj Sangue Disken.  For more information, contact DISCOnnect@TeNaX

Portodimare Live (Via Pisana 128, Florence) hosts the Gianfry Bogart Band at 9:30 p.m. Price is 23 euro per person and includes dinner.  For information and reservations, call 055-7191160.

Switch (at Fortezza da Basso) hosts Dj Romi, Stroboman, Numa Crew, Dj Craim and Big Rem MC.  Party starts at 10p.m.  Entrance 5 euro.  For more information, visit

Fortezza da Basso Festivities commence at 10 p.m. Special guests Felix Krocher and SSpeedy J.  For more information, contact 338-5721655

Disco Excelsior (Via Pistoiese 185, San Donnino, Florence)  Beginning at 9 p.m., Excelsior will put on its 'Spicy Halloween.'  For information and reservations, contact 329-1333483 or visit

Other events in the pubs and clubs of Via Verdi and via de' Benci, close to Santa Croce square.

Theresa Schroeder

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