Italia Wave In Jeopardy

This year’s Italia Wave Festival is in jeopardy because the city of Florence appears reluctant to confirm that it will stage the event until after next month’s elections.

"We are already late, but waiting until April would make us very, very late and we have started to look for other locations," said Italia Wave head of communications Silvia Poledrini.

Having taken place in the city of Arezzo for 21 years, which gave the original Arezzo Wave Festival its name, it shifted to Florence in 2007 and changed to Italia Wave.

There had been a slowly building tension between the city of Arezzo and the festival 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.

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

The first Florence event worked well in the sense that more than 160,000 turned up over five days to see a bill that included Scissor Sisters, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Kaiser Chiefs, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Mando Diao, but it also had some logistical problems.

It was originally slotted to happen on a 30-hectare park site at Villa Montalvo in Florence’s Campi Bisenzio district, but then Mayor Domenici wanted it moved to Sesto Fiorentino.

"It’s also on the edge of the city but the site is just land. We had to take all the water and electricity in, which was a huge extra cost," Poledrini said.

Despite the problems the city was quick to herald the event as a success and commit to future years, but since then the Italia Wave organisers have been unable to get the Florence authority to confirm that the festival will be on the Campi Bisenzio site.

At press time the immediate future was unclear. Italia Wave was still trying to explore the possibility of staying in Florence, although that would need to be confirmed before April. Another option was a move to the Tuscan coast at Livorno, where Mayor Alessandro Cosimi has expressed an interest in staging the event.