Arezzo Waves Goodbye

Only so much of the political background to the split has been divulged but the 21-year-old Arezzo Wave Festival is leaving the Italian city and setting up under a new name in Florence.

There’s been a slowly building tension between the city and event for a couple of years, not least because the Tuscan regional administration has had to cut back on all arts funding. Also, the local municipality of Arezzo, which is hovering on the brink of bankruptcy, has been forced to cut back on funding of any sort.

Arezzo’s always been a free festival but last year event director Mauro Valenti and his team decided to make a nominal five-euro charge for those who only turned up to see the headline acts.

Part of the plan was to encourage people to come earlier and get in free, thereby increasing the exposure given to the acts lower down the bill.

Late entrance fees still earned the festival about euro 250,000 (about US$316,000), which was a useful addition to a funded budget that had dwindled to euro 1.2 million.

The local elections looked to have improved the situation when new mayor Giuseppe Fanfani and his centre-left colleagues came to power, filling the hole left after former mayor Luigi Lucherini and three other Arezzo councilors were stripped of office and investigated for "abusing their power" over a local planning issue.

When dialogue opened up late last summer, the early signs were good. However, as talks continued it became more evident that Mayor Fanfani and his team were assuming more control of the site configuration and wanted some stages shifted to different parts of the city.

The world-famous event has never been short of offers of a new home if it ever needed one, and the organizers began to balance the options of going or staying.

Probably mindful that the clock had started to click the rundown to this summer’s event, and no doubt tempted by the chance to have two sites and more space, they had talks with new Florence mayor Leonardo Domenici and opted to shift 70 or so miles northeast.

The city and local media were furious to see the festival leave and Mayor Fanfani, cultural councilor Camillo Brezzi and youth policies councilor Lucia De Robertis were keen to keep talks going. But this year’s Arezzo Wave is called Italia Wave Love Festival and is happening in Florence July 17-22.

The first day takes place in the city centre, with the remaining five on a 30-hectare park site – 10 times the available space in Arezzo – at Villa Montalvo in the Campi Bisenzio district.

It’s near the main Firenze-Mare and Autostrada del Sole motorways and eight miles from Florence’s international airport.

The shows at Villa Montalvo will begin in the morning and entrance will be free until 9:15 p.m., a continuation of the policy started last year.

The move was officially unveiled at a February 24th presentation at the Regione Toscana stall in Milan’s International Tourism Exchange.

The complete bill is expected to be finalized in a couple of weeks and ready for announcing at a string of press conferences in Rome, Milan, Florence and New York.