By David Orr – Writer

Florence is internationally recognized as one of Europe’s cultural jewels, and now for the third time in five years, it will play host to the Festival D’Europa, a fantastically grand set of talks, debates, lectures, performances, and exhibition showcases held from May 6-10. There is no shortage of things to see, with over 120 events planned, held in dozens of locations all across the city-center. This year’s focus will be on the European issues of Development and Cooperation, Surveillance and the security of European citizens, and European International Relations.

The festival is put on by the EUI (European University Institute), along with the Comune di Firenze and Citta Metropolitana di Firenze and the Regione Toscana. The official opening is on May 6 at 5:30pm at Piazza Santa Maria Novellla. Below is only a small sampling of the events, for a full list, check out where you can search and filter using eight different themes across the festival’s five days.

Sample Events. On May 8 the Palagio di Parte Guelfa (Sala del Giglio) plays host to a talk on the youth and the future of Europe. Throughout the week there are additional lectures, including a discussion on the complexities of the European political and institutional systems. Kids on May 9 can let their hair down at Giardino di San Jacopino with the children rock band “Daddy Band” at 5pm.  The second part of the evening features teenage bands. Events go from 5pm – 10pm. Over at Le Murate (Piazza delle Murate) children can learn circus techniques, including juggling, balancing, acrobatics, and how to get rid of that primal fear of clowns. May 9 from 6pm – 8pm.  May 10 from 4 pm – 6pm. The Blue Night (La Notte Blu) is always a highlight, with over 50 free events, including cinema, cooking, theatre, music, documentaries, and body-painting. For a full calendar, check out:

On May 9 there is an evening readings of famous thrillers, and interactive mystery games, put on by the British Institute, Institut Français, Centro de Lengua Española, and Deutsches Institut.  The evening starts at the British Institute at Lungarno Guicciardini, 15, and then winds its way to the other three buildings.

The Historical Archives of the EU opens up to the public, with a day of art, music, and of course, circus performances! Maestro Marco Vavolo plays a piano concerto in the morning, performing a selection of the national anthems of the 28 EU member states, followed in the afternoon by the choir Novecento Fiesole. Electric City Transport hosts an electric scooter tour, starting in the Cascine, where the values of electric vehicles are showcased, along with other equally important pieces of information such as how to access the dreaded ZTL. Piazza Santa Maria Novella hosts a day of events – highlights include young writers showcasing stories of mobility at 10am, a noon flash-mob, and at 9pm, a live DJ set. From 2:30pm to 6:30pm at Palazzo Vecchio, there are speakers and debates on Florence as a cultural capital in Europe, and a recognition of the 150th anniversary of Florence being Italy’s capital (since ceded to some unknown city called Rome).  On May 10, you can come and check yourself into Careggi, where the famous piano soloist Andrea Turini performs Bach and Debussy for free in the “Aula Magna del NIC” at 10:30am.