Genius Loci. Discovering Santa Croce

The amazing Genius Loci festival is returning to Santa Croce for the fifth edition. Online reservations from 12 September at 3 pm.

The 20th to the 24th of September sees the welcome return of the event enhancing the extraordinary cultural heritage of which the monumental complex is a treasure chest, creating once again a bridge between past memory and future through the language of music, culture and art declined in a place of millennial charm.

In a dimension of wonder and discovery, the artists involved in the project will accompany visitors in a singular experience of living the monumental complex in a new and original way.

The initiative is organised by the Controradio Club, the Opera di Santa Croce and Controradio, together with the cultural association La Nottola Di Minerva. This project is part of the fifteen major exhibitions and festivals of the “Estate Fiorentina” organized by the Florence Municipality with the contribution of the Metropolitan City of Florence. "Genius Loci, discovering Santa Croce" is unique on the Italian scene.

Big names in music and culture will read and reinterpret the spirit of Santa Croce through performances, talks and concerts. Between the Basilica, Refectory, Cloisters and the Pazzi Chapel artists, intellectuals and writers will meet and hold site-specific events, in a contest in which spirituality and beauty, memory and history, both past and future all find a synthesis.

How to participate

The access is free with mandatory reservations required.

Tickets are valid until the start time of the show or event of your choice. Once the show has started, the reservation lapses and access is not guaranteed.

Sunday 18th September

Departing at 11am on the trail of Francis, this will be a literary and sound proposal between spirituality, history and nature through the evocative Valombrosa woods in the company of the Tuscan writer, Paolo Ciampi author of the “L’Ambasciatore delle Foreste” (Arkadia) together with singer and actress Anna Maria Castelli.

Footsteps, words, music to discover Vallombrosa and its teachings, along a circuit that connects in stages the network of the Chapels recalling the life of the monk who founded the abbey of the same name, San Giovanni Gualberto and his brother friars. A morning traveling along a mountain to discover the lesson of both the monks, guardians of trees and George Perkins Marsh, the ambassador of forests who first addressed the issue of climate change. The initiative is organized by the Cultural Association La Nottola di Minerva in collaboration with the Vallombrosa Association - La Montagna di Firenze (with the meeting point in front of the Vallombrosa Abbey, places are limited so please make the reservations by September 15 at the email:

Tuesday 20th September

Concert-event by Angelo Branduardi inside the Basilica di Santa Croce, at 9.15pm. Many of the famous compositions of the minstrel of Italian song draw inspiration from songs from an ancient and often forgotten past, in a rediscovery of the national and European musical heritage.

In tune with the Santa Croce genius loci, Angelo Branduardi will exceptionally propose a series of songs from his album L'infinitamente piccolo, in which he set the story of St. Francis of Assisi to music. An intimate performance by the artist with his voice and his violin, accompanied by a grand piano, inside the biggest Franciscan basilica in the world. 

Wednesday 21st September

L’epifania del divino. Talk with Franco Cardini. In the Refectory a multi voice conversation with the professor of medieval history Franco Cardini on the trace of his essay "The dwellings of God. Where Eternal Dwells" (Il Mulino), the author dialogues with Father Giancarlo Corsini, the Rector of the Santa Croce Basilica and guardian of the Santa Croce Franciscan community; Elzir Izzedin, of the Islamic Community of Florence, and Filippo Tedeschi, Deputy Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Florence. Moderated by the journalist Raffaele Palumbo. 
Readings by Federica Miniati. 
Event organized by the Cultural Association La Nottola di Minerva.

Following that there will be Anima_L, an artistic project by Linda Messerklinger con Luca “Vicio” Vicini of the Subsonica in which art, science and activism all meet. The intent is to give new life to the sense of communion between mankind and the environment surrounding him and all living creatures. 

Thursday 22nd September

At 8.45pm the Refectory will host “L’epifania nella natura. L’epifania della natura” a twin voice performance in which the writer Antonio Pascale will narrate, retracing the history of a symbolic crop like wheat, how the human condition has changed; how we went from Pinocchio to Masterchef, from hunger to abundance and future scenarios. The philosopher and author Ilaria Gaspari will continue by delving into a mirror theme: the human condition with respect to the perception of nature.
Voice and readings by the singer Letizia Fuochi.

At 10pm, still in the Refectory, one of the greatest living trumpet players, Markus Stockhausen, in trio with Franco Battiato's right arm man Lino Capra Vaccina and with Alireza Mortazavi, master of the ancient Persian instrument santur, in a metaphor of time through music, in a reflection on the abstract value of the future and on the most painful one linked to the past.

In the second cloister at 9pm there will be the performance “Gilgamesh”, the new show by Fossick Project, a duo made up by the illustrator Cecilia Valagussa and the musician Marta Del Grandi. The artists will create a contemporary theatre of shadows through a musical journey narrating stories inspired by the animal species and the worlds landscapes. 

At 10.15pm, once again in the second cloister, there will be the voice of Petra Magoni with “Che cosa sono le nuvole”. Passing emotions, like clouds, through the notes of Sinéad O'Connor, Fabrizio De André, Domenico Modugno, Joni Mitchell, Deep Purple, in a concert-story where the sound of Ilaria Fantin's archlute blends with the unique timbre of Magoni, creating an original synergy, directed at the public.

In the Pazzi chapel at 8.45pm, 9.45pm and 10.45pm virtuosity and improvisation for the show of Javier Edgardo Girotto, with "Escenas en solo".

Friday 23rd September

At 8.45 pm, in the Refectory the historian Alessandro Vanoli will lead the public on a literary, historical and artistic journey starting from the publications "The Tale of the Seasons: the revelation and the time of the return" (Il Mulino). The evening will be dedicated to the memory of Chiara Frugoni, recently deceased, a great protagonist of the iconographic research on Francis of Assisi, deeply linked to Santa Croce and Genius Loci. Sonorization by Ettore Bonafé.

Following on at 10pm Lello Analfino, front man of the Sicilian band Tinturia, will perform live “Punto e a capo”, a record characterized by modern, electronic and almost psychedelic sounds, which present the desire of the artist to open up to new horizons, in a constant search for new styles and sounds.

In the second cloister there will be two tributes: at 9pm “D’amore e d’orgoglio”, the concert dedicated to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone by Indaco Trio, alias Silvia Donati, (vocals), Camilla Missio (doublebass), Francesca Bertazzo Hart (guitar).

Two great musicians, two strong and sensitive personalities who have marked the history of jazz with their singing and their songs. Songs "of love and pride": pride of being a woman and African American in a country at the time still in search of the most obvious civil rights. The trio will retrace the most significant moments of the career of the two artists with a bare and enveloping sound. Bass voice and guitar merge and highlight each other through original arrangements, giving a new perspective to the songs. 

At 8.15pm we continue with “Lucio, dove vai? Dalla from the beginning and the season with Roberto Roversi". An original project by the singer and composer Costanza Alegiani which revisits some songs from the first part of Lucio Dalla's career and will address the vast chapter of record production linked to the collaboration with the poet Roberto Roversi. Alegiani has at her side two members of her Folkways Trio, namely saxophonist Marcello Allulli and double bass player Riccardo Gola.

In the Pazzi Chapel at 8.45pm, 9.45pm and 10.45pm the violinist Anais Drago will perform her "Solo violin recital", a work that draws inspiration from literary texts, memories and reflections on contemporary life. Firmly linked to each other, although different from each other, the songs also reveal the numerous musical influences of Anais, who includes in her background experience of study and performance of classical and baroque music, folk, world music, pop, progressive rock, fusion and finally jazz.

Saturday 24th September

The protagonist of the Genius Loci traditional closing dawn concert will be Wim Mertens, one of the greatest architects of minimalism, ambient and avant-garde music of the twentieth century, author of soundtracks for the Peter Greenaway films and Jan Fabre theatrical plays. At the first light of dawn he will bring his Santa Croce project – piano solo into the second cloister.

To his credit Mertens has over 80 solo albums and performances in opera houses and other prestigious locations around the world.