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This week highlights generations, from the volunteers and visitors of all ages spending time together at the Fai Marathon to the guest artists ages 10 to 90 invited to perform in Virgilio Sieni’s dance festival Democracy of the Body. Of special note are the many cross-platform events in Florence’s annual Festival of the Generations.


Contrary to what the name suggests, Fai Marathon is not really a marathon in the sense of a competitive, 26-mile race; it is instead a non-competitive “cultural marathon,” a walk through some of Italy’s architectural and cultural treasures, many of which are usually off-limits to the public. Although admission is free, the day provides an opportunity to make a donation, large or small, to FAI – the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the Italian equivalent of the National Trust) – an organization that safeguards and promotes Italy’s historic patrimony.

This year, on October 16, cities and towns across Italy are participating; in Tuscany, the list comprises venues in Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Pistoia, Siena, San, Prato, Arezzo, Massa and Grosseto, Carmignano, Capraia e Limite, San Gimignano, Sansepolcro and Campiglia Marittima.

A special treat is a guided visit to the church of Santa Maria Maddelena dei Pazzi (Borgo Pinti 58), which offers a spectacular crash course in nearly all of Florence’s ancient architectural styles. A Renaissance-columned portico of Classical inspiration leads to an unadorned façade. The surprises continue inside where one finds a Baroque altar in addition to works by Andrea del Sarto, Rodolfo Ghirlandaio and others.

A separate entrance on via della Colonna also leads to the monk’s former meeting room, open between 10 am and 5 pm, where a 15th century three-dimensional Crucifixion fresco by Perugino occupies an entire wall. Wearing beautifully draped clothing, the depicted saints have realistic facial expressions against a background that portrays the gentle hills of Umbria, the artist’s birthplace.

Another site is a museo diffuso; a museum itinerary with limited accessibility at Florence’s longest continuously running hospital, Santa Maria Nuova, founded in 1288. Monna Tessa, the governess of Dante’s great love, Beatrice Portinari, convinced Beatrice’s rich banker father, Folco, to finance the building of a hospital for the city’s poor.

Thanks to its rich patrons, the hospital gained power as an institution, and was endowed with many important paintings and sculptures during the following century. As well as a major revamping of its medical facilities, the hospital’s recently completed renovation encompasses a new life for its many outstanding artworks and artifacts, which have been restored and are now displayed.

Within the region, featured are in-depth visits at the home of Piero della Francesca, with a chance to see the restoration-in-progress of his Resurrection, in Sansepolcro; a rare glimpse of etchings on the theme of wine created by famous artists such as Mantegna, Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso and Warhol at Il Borro, a former royal residence in the Casentino; and the beauty of the Mineral Museum in Campiglia Marittima. Tours are also available in English at FAI Marathon locations in Lucca.

The complete program is found at www.fondoambiente.

Dance is for the people – anyone can dance regardless of age, class, or gender. This is the theme underlying choreographer Virgilio Sieni’s newest festival “The Democracy of the Body.”

Both professional dancers and ordinary citizens are welcome to explore artistic language through dance while connecting it to Florence. The two-month event located throughout the city focuses on integrating the spirit as expressed through the human body to the physical geographic location of its presence.

Dancers entering in and out through beams of light can be seen in Sieni’s second choreography from October 11 - 14 at Teatro della Pergola. Sieni says that Cantico dei Cantici or Song of Songs is meant to encourage the audience to remove themselves from the daily routine to focus solely on the human body, and seek an intention behind everyday movements.

Scheduled to take place from October 13 - 15, with free events (registration required), the theme this year is Beyond Borders: Generations and Culture.

Sponsored by the Firenze Marathon, all ages are invited to join a walk through the city center past Florence’s monuments (Thursday, October 13 from piazza Santa Croce. 8 pm. To participate, download and register on the festival website).

Learn about the thinkers, writers, artists and musicians of foreign origin and their contributions during “Migrant Tour: Your City Through Different Eyes,” which invites the public on two different walking journeys with multicultural guides to discover how the influence of immigrants past and present have made Florence the city it is. The first route leads through neighborhoods that are traditional cultural crossroads.

(Thursday, October 13 from piazza Santa Croce. 5 - 7 pm).

A conference entitled “Migrants of Yesterday and Today” hosts Lampedusa mayor Giusi Nicolini, and journalist Domenico Quirico. Quirico, who spent five months as a hostage of Syrian rebels, will introduce his latest book “Exodus” a chronicle of migrants throughout the world. Following this, a musical show “One Night in Little Italy” recounts the experience of Italian immigrants to the United States. With words, pictures and music the audience will get to know the story of the millions of Italians who sought a better life denied them in their country of origin (Thursday, October 13 at the Odeon Cinema. 9 pm).

The Slow Food Movement presents the history of three culinary staples. Discover the transformation over the centuries as the presenters compare the evolution of the products to human evolution (wine on Thursday, October 13; cheese on Friday, October 14 and beer on Saturday, October 15 in piazza Santa Croce. 6 - 7 pm).

Saturday begins with a workshop for people over 50. Entitled “Beyond Technology,” it is designed to contain useful information for baby boomers perplexed by the technological advances of the past several decades (Saturday, October 15 at Biblioteca delle Oblate. 10 am).

“The Generator of the Generations” lecture (Saturday, October 15 at Teatro Verdi, 9 pm) closes the festival. Is there a common denominator between those born in the same generation? What separates one from another? How do culture, art, history, technology and social mores influence the generations? These questions form the basis for interviews with musicians, artists, writers and representatives representing five different age groups.

Throughout the festival guests can visit the multimedia exhibit “Through the Generations: Between Daily Life and a Shared Future.” This journey through time, from north to south, with the words of children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, presents a mosaic of changing Italy (Sala d’Arme, Palazzo Vecchio, daily).

Look for complete information at www.festivaldellegenerazioniwith easy booking for each individual event. (rita kungel/additional reporting by liz wicks & danna friedman )