Florence Mayor Waves Festival Flag

Florence Mayor Leonardo Domenici is so taken with the new Italia Wave Festival that he’s trying to launch a foundation for it, similar to the Maggio Musicale fund that’s supported the Italian city’s annual opera and classical music season for more than 70 years.

The various local dignitaries that make up the Tuscany regional council and the province and municipality of Florence are set to meet next month, when they’ll discuss this year’s event and begin planning for 2008.

This year was the first time that one of Italy’s most famous outdoors has been staged since it changed its name from Arezzo Wave – after the city where it took place for 21 years – and moved to a much bigger 30-hectare park site at Villa Montalvo in Florence’s Campi Bisenzio district.

Festival director Mauro Valenti hasn’t revealed the political background to the split with the mayor and the local councillors at Arezzo, Michelangelo’s birthplace, but it’s believed the city wanted more control of the gathering while putting in less money.

There had been a slowly building tension between city and event for a couple of years, not least because the local council – which was hovering on the brink of bankruptcy – was forced to cut back on arts funding of any sort.

Probably mindful that the clock had started to click the rundown to this summer’s event, and no doubt tempted by the chance to move to a better site with more space, Valenti began the talks with Mayor Domenici that led to the festival moving 70 or so miles north-east.

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

Festival press office manager Silvia Poledrini says the first Italia Wave pulled 160,000 over six days, which is about the same as the old event has been doing in Arezzo in recent years.

The only problem was the weather. While most of western Europe has suffered from almost continuous rain, a strip across the southern and central mainland has been toasted by temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius.

The acts helping Italia Wave get off to a hot start in Florence included Scissor Sisters, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Kaiser Chiefs, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Mando Diao, Nitin Sawhney, CSS, Mika, The View, Enter Shikari, Jimi Tenor, The Hedrons, Tunng and Leningrad, the first Russian act to get festival appearances by entering the European Talent Exchange Programme.