Top 5 Classical Music Attractions in Florence, Italy

Top 5 Florence music attractions

Christmas is around the corner, and aside from hearing the jingling of bells, you may find yourself wanting to immerse yourself into the rich musical culture of the city of Florence.

Amid the nativity scenes, Christmas lights, decorations, the huge crowds of shoppers, and the brisk winter air, take time to catch an Italian opera or learn about medieval singing at one of these incredible venues. These five musical attractions are just minutes away from well-known landmarks in Florence, so be sure to check them out on your visit.  

1. Museo dell’Opera

The name of this museum sounds deceptively as though it features important operatic history. However, it’s actually a museum that contains many original works of art that were created for the Cathedral of Florence. The Cathedral of Florence is the main church and most important landmark of Florence. Built in 1434, the building is a Unesco World Heritage site and the church’s dome is the largest brick dome ever constructed.

After viewing the famed Gates of Paradise, the masterfully sculpted bronze doors for the baptistery of the Cathedral by Lorenzo Ghiberti, visit the Sala delle Cantorie, the singing galleries, or raised platforms that housed the singers and organs in the Cathedral. Look for the English and Italian translations of Psalms that appear on the walls of this room, including Psalm 150 ,which describes a concert featuring various instruments ringing out in God’s honor. Since the Florence Cathedral was also known for the modernity of sacred and liturgical music, visit the Cappella Musicale on the first floor. Here the Opera preserves important musical archives of compositions for the Cathedral, as well as medieval singing and notation by some of the most esteemed composers of the day, such as Antonio Squarcialupi.

2. Galleria dell’Accademia

The Galleria dell’Accademia, or "Gallery of the Academy of Florence," is probably already on your itinerary, because it houses the well-known sculpture David by Michelangelo. However, the Galleria also features the Musical Instrument Museum of Florence. Here, you’ll find about 50 instruments belonging to the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory, dating from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Among the collection, classical music fans will get to see a tenor viola made by the illustrious Antonio Stradivari, and even learn about how the piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori. You’ll be able to hear the sounds of the instruments through multimedia systems and even learn about the grand musical festivals held in Florence in the 17th century.The festivals took place before Lent, and during Calendimaggio, which was the celebration of the return of spring. People would gather in the streets to participate in processions and parades while wearing costumes, singing, and dancing.

3. Teatro Della Pergola

If you’re crazy about Italian opera, don’t miss a chance to attend a performance at the historic opera house, Teatro Della Pergola. Located in the city center on the Via della Pergola, this is the oldest opera house in Italy, at more than 350 years old. Its large auditorium, the Sala Grande, has 1,500 seats, while a smaller ballroom, the Saloncino, which is used as a recital hall, can seat 400 people.

Many historic music events have happened here, one of which being Giuseppe Verdi’s premiere performance of Macbeth, in 1847. You can still catch performances here today – about 250 performances are held yearly. If you’re here between April and June, you may even be able to watch an opera performance during the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, an annual arts festival in Florence.  

4. Teatro Verdi

Moving from one theatre to the next, Teatro Verdi is the biggest Italian-style theatre in Tuscany. Italian-style theatres have iconic style columns, private boxes, a balcony, and galleries. This theatre has a gallery and six tiers of boxes – all of which can hold 1,566 people.

Located in the historic area of Santa Croce, it was originally called Teatro Pagliano, but was later renamed in Giuseppe Verdi’s honour.

Throughout its history, this theatre has hosted countless musical acts and celebrities, as well as film festivals. Here, you can catch all genres of music performances – including the musical Grease, the ballet Il Lago Del Cigni (Swan Lake), and a variety of piano recitals. Book your tickets here, if you’re planning a visit.

5. Florence National Central Library

This National Public Library is the largest in Italy, and was founded in 1714, when a scholar by the name of Antonio Magliabechi donated his entire collection of 30,000 volumes of books to the city of Florence. Since 1743, a copy of every work  that was published in Tuscany had to be submitted to this library.

Among the impressive collection of more than six million volumes, is some of the oldest and rarest of sheet music in the world. You’ll even find songbooks and sheet music from the World War I era, including military songs, war hymns, choral works, and operas.

In 1966, a major flood of the Arno River led to nearly one-third of the library’s collection being damaged. A restoration center was set up within the library, but much work remains to be done, even today, and some works may have been lost forever.

For more about these spectacular musical attractions, watch our video below.

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