Free music on the Tuscan Coast: Italia Wave Festival

Posted in: Italy


Psycho Stage at the Italia Wave Festival in Livorno
The band Calibro at the Pyscho Stage. Photos by Laura Mongillo.

Summer in Italy doesn’t have to be all about melting gelato, sticky clothing and the desperate search for air-conditioning. Don’t forget about the pleasant summer nights, the beach, and best of all: live music!

If you’re visiting Florence or Tuscany this July, put away your guide books and hop on the train or rent a car to get to the unique port city of Livorno and the Italia Wave Love Festival. Despite its ridiculous name, this week-long festival is a treasure trove of up and coming Italian bands and seasoned international favorites. Plus, many shows are free! This year (2010), the event runs from July 21st to the 25th.

A pine grove at the Italia Wave Festival

A pine grove near the stage

Italia Wave, formerly known as Arezzo Wave, has grown bigger and better in the past few years that it has been based in Livorno. The event boasts three different stages offering live music from 10 a.m. until late night.

Free music and more

My personal favorite is the small but lively Psycho Stage, nestled in a shady pine grove near the coast. Entry to this stage is always free and offers the best mix of Italian bands of all different styles, some more well known than others. On this stage you’ll also find the winners of the Italia Wave contest, who submitted their songs for a chance to play on this stage! Aside from the free music, both the pine grove and the boardwalk nearby offer amazing spots to hang out between sets.

The festival also includes the Cult Stage, found in the old city fortress, which offers a mix of films, cultural events and shows. The Main Stage, housed in the AC Livorno soccer team’s stadium, is where you’ll find the well-known groups. This year, OK Go, Faithless and Julain Marley will be playing, but they come with a price tag of around €20. You definitely get a good bang for your buck, however: A minimum of five groups perform each night,  plus there’s a small marketplace inside and an electro dance party that usually follows the last show. Tickets can be bought in advance here or on the day of the show outside the stadium.

Seaside at Livorno

Seaside Livorno

Exploring Livorno

So if you’re in the mood for some great music, pack a bag with a picnic lunch (unfortunately, the festival’s food options are awful), lots of water, sunglasses, sunscreen and even your bathing suit. Livorno offers a few stretches of rocky beach.

If you arrive by car, I would definitely recommend driving slightly to the south of the city to enjoy the clean warm water of the Etruscan coastline. But don’t forget to check out the amazing city of Livorno as well. It has a rich history as a port, is a proud Italian communist stronghold, and offers the best cacciucco (fish stew) around.

About the author

Laura Mongillo

About the author: Laura Mongillo holds an Undergraduate and Masters degree in Italian Studies from NYU and has been living in Florence, Italy for three years.

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2 thoughts on “Free music on the Tuscan Coast: Italia Wave Festival”

  1. @Nicky: While I would agree with you that the adjective ‘unique’ is often misused, or at least overused, I would argue that in this case the author of the article has actually a point. So every city is unique, but Livorno is – if you want to put it that way – ‘more unique’ than – say – Grosseto or Pistoia. You may or may not like Livorno, but it has a – well – unique quality to it. The city of Livorno still has avery peculiar character that makes it stand out among other Tuscan or even Italian cities. There is a very special Livornese humour, a very strong Livornese identity, something that is historical, social and also political. That is what I think of when I read that Livorno is unique, and I think that is what the writer may be referring to here. I think it is unfair to just criticize an article for the (mis)use of an adjective.

  2. I am always intrigued when travellers describe somewhere as ‘unique’ – as in this post where alludes to “the unique port city of Livorno.” The travel pages in US newspapers often overuse the word ‘authentic’ in a similarly intriguing manner. What makes Livorno more unique than anywhere else? Is not every place unique? Livorno is certainly interesting and I like it as a reasonable example of a città ideale – but there are far better examples elsewhere. Parts of Livorno are pretty, and parts are ugly. More the latter than the former. What makes Livorno more unique than Liverpool or Lyon?


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