By Laura Mongillo in Florence—Feel like catching a movie in fair Firenze without having to first get a degree in Italian?
Ha! This can prove to be more difficult than getting into the Uffizi on a Saturday. Most movies in Italy are shown almost exclusively in the Italian language, meaning they are dubbed and translated for foreign audiences— and sometimes not in the viable (read: easy to understand) way. Good thing the Odeon Theater is there when you need a film fix.
The Odeon theater, located in Piazza Strozzi (near Piazza Repubblica), is practically the only place in town where you can see an American movie in its original language, and often it features Italian subtitles so you can practice your best Ciao! while enjoying a fun night on the town.
One of the biggest draws of the Odeon cinema is its beauty. The theater itself is housed in a 15th-century palazzo which maintains a uniquely original 1920s interior. This elegant 1920s style is characterized by ornate gold decorations, a ticket office done up in rich, dark wood and two stylish bars are featured prominently on opposite ends of the theater. Plush gold velvet seating makes for comfortable viewing (and spacious legroom!) and the enormous statues framing the screen add a touch of glamour.
By far, though, the Odeon’s best asset is the giant stained glass dome covering the main screening room. In the right light, the area becomes filled with colors and patterns. Simply stunning!
Other notable Odeon programs
The Odeon Original Sound Programme, hosted over the course of three to four nights each week, is a series of movies offered in their original language (again, typically English). The selection is generally a mix of the big American theatrical releases and some smaller independent movies that have gained some critical recognition. Programming is not consistent week to week so make sure to check out the schedule beforehand. Note that Italian subtitles are almost always offered.
The other great initiative of the Odeon is that they host multiple film festivals. One that I love is the ’50 days of International Film’ hosted here every fall. Note that during festivals, the Original Sound programming moves to the Odeon’s sister cinema, the Astra 2 (in Piazza Beccaria).
Tickets cost only €7.50, with discounts available for students and for Wednesday night showings. Also, alcohol is permitted in this theater, so treat yourself to a pre-movie aperitif!
More film fun
Florence, with its multitude of diverse and international inhabitants has placed a particular emphasis on the arts, and as such they have hosted many annual film festivals concentrating on certain cultures or communities and their relevant films. The most famous events of the year are the Korea Film Fest, River to River (an festival focusing on Indian films), the Festival dei Popoli featuring documentary film, the Florence Queer Festival, France Odeon, the Women and Film Festival and others including children’s films and short films. The majority of these festivals are held between the months of October and December although spring does host a few as well.
You can check out this website for a list of Tuscan festivals or visit each festival’s site directly. Screenings during festivals are held at the Odeon and other central movie theaters, as well as specifically designated festival spaces.