Notte Bianca

Ever have one of those nights where you can’t sleep no matter how hard you try?  Well in Italy, they celebrate those nights.

Actually, they name a night after those types of nights.  The Italian idiom for passing a sleepless night is passing a note in Bianca-a night in white, I assume referring to the whites of the eyes, which stay exposed due to the inability to sleep.  This night, a week after Easter vigil, is a night where everything stays open all night long with festivities, outdoor concerts, and free admission to museums.

Notte Bianca happens in major cities across Italy, but Florence is the only one that is a member of the cultural association that organizes the event.  Some friends and I volunteered for this association, handing out program maps for three hours.  This sounds boring and tedious, but the variety of people you encounter, the amount of Italian you speak, and all of the freebies you receive make it all worth it.  After our work session we were taken to dinner then let free to wander the city as we pleased.  Lights lining the Arno River were covered in colored paper, turning the water into a liquid kaleidoscope.  Open-air concerts were staged in multiple piazzas.  Live trees were “planted” across the Ponte Santa Trinità.  It was a wild night, but a memorable night—another unique glimpse into the Italian mentality.

-Kathryn Herbert


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2 thoughts on “Notte Bianca

  1. Nuit Blanche (Notte Bianca) is an annual arts event which takes place overnight. Typically, it offers free public opening of museums, cultural institutions and other public and private spaces, and uses these locations for installations or art performances.

    The general principle of such an event existed for many years, especially in the Nordic countries. However, in its current form, the concept is launched in Paris, France, in 2002, and since reproduced in many cities, like Rome, Montreal, Toronto, Brussels, Madrid, Lima or Leeds.

    Paris hosts the first Nuit Blanche festival in 2002. The mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, asked Jean Blaise the artistic director to creat a new cultural event. The bases of the festival are defined: it takes place in the early hours of Saturday to Sunday and involves the following contemporary artists in places that are not normally open or public, or whose primary function is not artistic . The festival is renewed each year at the same time, with a different program.

    In 2003, Rome hosts the Notte Bianca in mid-September. In 2005, similar initiatives are also taking place in other Italian cities, like Firenze, Naples, Genoa, Turin and Reggio Calabria and Catanzaro. In Leeds held at the same time the Light Night ‘.

    The manifestations of this kind have their origin in several places. In the Nordic countries, the “Nuit Blanche” refers to the period when the twilight never stops at night, from mid-May until mid-July. In St. Petersburg, the festival of “Nuit Blanche” present during several monthes many cultural events, street carnivals and the manifestation of Red Sails, famous for its fireworks.

    In Nantes (France), the “Festival des Allumés”, organized by Jean Blaise, staged for a week in October, 1990 to 1995, various events in unusual locations. In 1997, Berlin organized the first Long Night of Museums with a dozen participating agencies.

    The budget for the 2010 is about 1.65 million euros, including 1.15 for the city of Paris and 500 000 € supported by private partners, to this date attracts 2 million visitors.

    • Thank you so much for the background information! I remember our leader giving us some background information, but he barely spoke English, so it was all in rough translation, and anything else I got from it was from overhearing conversations in my broken Italian! Not the most reputable way of getting information!

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