Fore nine days, the city of Florence, Italy turned into a true capital of culture. Over 200,000 visitors came to Florence and admired its art and architecture, international speakers and thought leaders. A broad audience of scholars, professionals, as well as students and citizens participated with great interest.

Here is a brief recap of the Culture and Heritage week in Florence:

Public Art Installations: Italian artist Mimmo Paladino’s cross at Piazza Santa Croce, consisting of blocks of marble of heights ranging from 2 to 4 meters, each carved with archaic symbols and faces, and arranged in the shape of a crucifix. The cross is the theme of an exhibit in the Baptistry that offers the unprecedented opportunity of comparing works by three Renaissance masters.

An olive grove at piazza Duomo included more than 70 “centuries-old” olive trees, which suggest not only a Christological theme connected to the Crucifix exhibits, but also the theme of landscape and the value of local agriculture. Olives are one of the main features of the Tuscan landscape and are an important, sustainable part of the region’s economic development.

Discussions: Palazzo Vecchio was the site for conferences, round tables and keynote speeches by hundreds of Italian and international speakers. Three days were devoted to the International Forum on Cultural Heritage and Landscape. Each day topics of discussion included  museums, art preservation, smart cities, gourmet foods, creative industries, sustainability and festivals that ran from 9am to 10pm. Speakers from Australia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, USA, Libya, India, Italy and other nations shared their perspectives on the many aspects of culture and its importance in societies around the world.

Gastronomy: Biennial Enogastronomica Fiorentina was also held during this period. Piazza San Firenze was home to chef demonstrations, cooking classes, wine tastings and more. There was even a “gelato for dinner” event prepared by the Gelato Association. The Il Mercado Dei Sapori E Dei Mestieri (food and craft market) took over the entire Piazza Strozzi and Piazza della Repubblica, two of the most beautiful squares of Florence historical center. The large market was organized by Claridea, in collaboration with Florens 2012 (Florence Culture and Heritage week) and offered a selection of culinary excellence and artisan of the Tuscan tradition that was a delightful culinary experience for visitors and locals.