September is a pleasant month to visit Florence, when temperatures start to cool down and crowds thin out somewhat. It's not one of the city's busiest months in terms of its cultural calendar, but you will find a few interesting events on offer, including one of its more important festivals. Here's a look at some of our favorite September events in Florence.
September 7 - Festa della Rificolona. One of Florence's biggest and most traditional festivals, the Festa della Rificolona is also known as the Festival of the Lanterns. On this day, which commemorates the eve of the birth of the Virgin Mary (though some say it the festival really took off as a local event after Florence's victory over Siena in 1555), young and old take part in a lantern parade, where hundreds of mostly hand-made lanterns are displayed, and there is also a boat parade along the Arno. The festival is accompanied by a large fair in Piazza Santissima Annunziata featuring street performers, food vendors, music, and more.
First Sunday of the month - Sunday at the Museum. On the first Sunday of the month, state-run museums in Florence and are free to everyone. In Florence, this includes the following museums: the Uffizi, the Galleria dell'Accademia, the Palazzo Pitti and Giardino di Boboli, the Bargello, the Medici Chapels, the archaeological museum and several more. Note that you can't reserve tickets for these days – you just have to show up and wait in what could be a long line, especially at the Uffizi and the Accademia.
Mid-September - Gelato Festival. Now this is a festival we can really appreciate! Held at Piazzale Michelangelo, the September segment of this multi-city, months-long festival features regional champions gathered in Florence for a final gelato tasting show-down. Attendees can sample offerings from the best gelato makers in Europe, and help decide who wins.
Late September during odd-numbered years - Mostra Mercato Internazionale dell'Antiquariato. This extremely prestigious biennial antiques fair typically takes place in late September or early October at Palazzo Corsini, giving serious collectors the chance to view and bid on antiques from around the world. Florence hosts a number of other cultural programs during the time of the fair, including musical performances and galas.
Last Saturday in September - Carro Matto. Florentines celebrate the arrival of the first wine of the new season with this traditional festival, which sees an oxcart laden with wine jugs of wine pulled through the streets, then presented at Piazza della Signoria. There's also a parade and flag-throwing event.
During September - Settembre Sestese. The town of Sesto Fiorentino, on the outskirts of Florence, holds concerts and special events during the month of September.
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