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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.
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.
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.