While Florence is best known for its visual arts and architecture, it also has a thriving performing arts scene. This is thanks to its long history as a prosperous city with wealthy patrons willing to sponsor musicians and composers, as well as its current history as a center for international studies—several performing arts schools in Florence attract talented students from around the world. From opera to classical music, to stage plays and dance, Florence has a full schedule of performing arts events. A lively contemporary scene means that if arias sung in Italian aren't your thing, you can almost always find something a bit more modern.
Famous Theaters in Florence
With such a thriving arts and culture scene, you'd also expect the city to have some pretty spectacular venues to support the variety of performances. (And you'd be right). Here are a few of Florence's most famous theaters to catch a show, concert, play, and more.
Teatro del Maggio (Opera, Music, and Dance)
The stunningly modern Teatro del Maggio is home to the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Opera di Firenze, the resident performing arts company that stages opera, classical music, and dance performances here. Maggio Fiorentino is one of the most respected companies in Italy, attracting some of the most talented performers and conductors to its stage. The company also offers an academy training students in all aspects of theater performance and production, and an active community outreach program.
The season starts in May and runs to April of the following year, and is divided more or less between classical music, lyrical music, opera (including contemporary operas) and ballet. Ticket costs range from 5 to 10 euros for balcony level seats with obstructed views, to 60 euros and up for orchestra level, center-stage seating. Tickets can be purchased online or at various points throughout the city; see the Maggio Fiorentino website for details.
Teatro Niccolini (Music and Drama)
Historic Teatro Niccolini, founded by Lorenzo di Medici in 1658, is Florence's oldest theater, now fresh from a total renovation in 2016. Despite its age and auspices, it stages a surprisingly contemporary season of plays, musical performances, and modern dance. Teatro Niccolini had fallen on hard times in the late 20th century, and its grand reopening was warmly welcomed by Florentines. Ticket prices vary depending on the performance, but start in the 20-euro range. Visit the Teatro Niccolini website for more information.
Teatro Verdi (Orchestra, Rock, Pop, Jazz, and More)
Opened in 1854, Teatro Verdi is the seat of the Orchestra della Toscana. In addition to a schedule of traditional orchestral performances, the theatre also hosts contemporary music performances with internationally known artists such as Sting and Jethro Tull, as well as popular Italian musicians and groups playing jazz, pop, and rock music. Tickets range from 20 euros up to 100 euros or more, depending on the performer. For more information, see the Teatro Verdi website.
Teatro della Pergola (Music and Drama)
The grand Teatro della Pergola dates to 1661, making it just a few years younger than Teatro Niccolini. Restored to its 17th- to 19th-century grandeur, the theater is home to the Teatro della Toscana performing company, which stages contemporary spins on classic plays such as King Lear and A Doll's House as well as new, cutting-edge dramas. Ticket prices start around 17 euros and go up to 40 euros for premium seats. For more information, visit the Teatro della Pergola website.
Teatro Puccini (Satire and Children's Plays)
This fascist-era theater, originally built as an entertainment hall for blue-collar workers, now stages contemporary works of comedy and social commentary. Much of it is geared to mature audiences and those that can follow along with Italian humor, but the theater also has a children's program, with recent performances of The Wizard of Oz and The Little Prince. Tickets range from 15 euros to 40 euros. See the Teatro Puccini website for more information.
More Performance Venues in Florence
- Nelson Mandela Forum is an indoor arena for sporting events and rock concerts.
- Tuscany Hall is an indoor space for rock concerts, food festivals, TV broadcasts, and other events.
- Visarno Arena is a large capacity open-air space for rock concerts. Recent big-name artists include Ed Sheeran, The Cure, and Imagine Dragons.
- Stadio Artemio Franchi is the home field of ACF Fiorentina soccer team, and also hosts big-name musical acts such as Madonna, David Bowie, and Bruce Springsteen.
- Complesso le Murate is a contemporary, experimental art and performance space in a former convent and prison.
- Sala Vanni is an intimate auditorium inside the Basilica of Santa Maria del Carmine complex, and is home to Musicus Concentus, which brings experimental and well-known acts to the space.
Concerts, Concerts, and More Concerts
The comune of Firenze posts a full schedule of concerts all over the city, many of them free of charge. Classictic posts schedules and sells tickets for operatic, choral, and orchestral events in theaters and churches across Florence. In addition, most churches offer periodic concerts of liturgical music, and these performances are often free of charge. Notices for these are often posted on the church doors or on bulletin boards just inside.
Every Thursday, The Florentine, an English-language website, publishes a weekly forecast of interesting events, including concerts around the city. Their listings include concerts and DJ appearances at bars and clubs.
Most of us don't travel with a tuxedo or cocktail dress in our carry-ons, but fortunately, smart-casual attire will usually suffice for a night of culture in Florence. For symphony orchestra, opera, and higher-end theatrical performances, figure on slacks and a collared, preferably long-sleeve shirt for men, and for women, slacks and a nice blouse or a skirt or dress. Avoid jeans, shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops. At smaller theaters, alternative/experimental performances or rock/pop concerts, casual attire is fine.
See our month-by-month guide to special events and festivals, including concerts, in the city of Florence.