Cultural Programme in the Library   

Wednesday Lectures

We present a new season of our flagship programme.  Wednesday evening at 6pm in our beautiful Library with a View, you want to be there for an eclectic mix of entertaining and erudite lectures followed by wine and nibbles.  Since forever this has been the weekly social night for the British Institute’s community, and everyone is welcomed – a perfect entrée for newcomers as well as a chance for old friends to catch up.  The series will still be programmed by Mark Roberts, operating from his retirement in Chianti.


Music al British

The Sala Ferragamo overlooking the Arno is a beautiful room – and it also has fabulous acoustics.  Our fine Bechstein grand piano sounds great in this well-proportioned room, and the books of the Harold Acton library provide a natural warmth to strings and voices.  All up, a great venue for piano and chamber music concerts.  So we are delighted to present the second series of Music al British.


Art Stories

The British Institute of Florence has an outstanding History of Art faculty, under the direction of Jeremy Boudreau.  We reckon we deliver the best History of Art courses in English in Florence!  Now Jeremy is offering a new series of entertaining talks, telling weird and wonderful stories from the less well known corners of Florence’s astonishing history in art.  Afterwards the discussion will continue over some decent wine and yummy snacks.  Don’t miss this series!


Talking Pictures 

Talking Pictures is back for a new season which will focus on screening really great Italian and English language films, with subtitles.  These are films you need to see … and will want to see again!  And everyone will be offered a cup of wine and a bag of popcorn to take into the screening.  James Douglas will programme the season, and offer an introduction to each film.  Enjoy!


Subscribe to our newsletter for more details on the films. 


Afternoon Tea 

The Afternoon Tea at the Harold Acton Library is held every Thursday from 16:30 to 18:00 in the Ferragamo room. Our tea parties are the perfect opportunity to meet new people surrounded by a lovely book collection and with a stunning view over the river Arno. The event is open to all, though a minimum donation of €3.00 is requested which goes towards supporting the library.



We are upgrading this popular family event to fortnightly sessions on Thursdays at 17:00

Children aged three to eight enjoy stories, craft activities, workshops, animated films, songs and rhymes. All activities take place in Acton room under the supervision of our team, whilst the parents can relax with a cup of tea in the nearby Ferragamo room .

Storytime is free to members of the Library. Membership options include the day card (€6), Junior card (20€), Family membership (1 year €110, up to three family members).

Click here to see the upcoming events.  


Reading Exchange

The first meeting of the reading exchange took place in June 2003. 

At these informal meetings, we each talk briefly about a book we have enjoyed. This is an excellent way to hear about books that other people have been reading and that might appeal to you. Anyone looking at the list of books we have talked about over the years will see not only the broad range of books discussed, but will also see that some books appear more than once. No meeting is the same, people come and go, and many books return to the discussion table. We hope this list will act as a reference for readers looking for ideas of what to read next, and encourage more people to come along to these very enjoyable meetings. 

Click here to see the upcoming events  

Quarterly on Thursday afternoon


Le chiavi della città 

The British Institute of Florence has taken part for many years in  the “Chiavi della città” which is an initiative organised by the Comune di Firenze and aimed at primary and secondary schools. During this initiative, the British Institute of Florence opens its Library to Florentine schools.

We aim to introduce school children to our bicultural and bilingual Library, to the history of the British Institute  and to the treasures of our collections with interactive and fun activities in English.

Click here for more information 


Shakespeare Week 

Every year in April the British Institute of Florence celebrates the anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare with a packed programme of events focussing on a specific Shakespeare play, usually including a reading of the entire text or of a single act. All are welcome to take part in the reading, in any language. During the week there are screenings of films based on Shakespeare plays and a lecture delivered by our Director.


Shakspeare Week 2020 - 14 - 17 April 


The Shakespeare Graduate Conference

In 2009 the British Institute of Florence inaugurated the Shakespeare Graduate Conference, a day of interdisciplinary Shakespeare studies (with contributions both in English and in Italian) aimed at university students and recent graduates (two years maximum) from Tuscan Universities. In 2010 the Conference became open to Italian graduates and recent graduates (maximum 5 years) and from 2014 has become an international event.

Since its first edition, many eminent Italian academics have participated and also promoted the Conference: Alessandro Serpieri from the University of Florence, Keir Elam from the University of Bologna and Carla Dente from the University of Pisa, to name only a few.

Since 2010 the Conference has included contributions on Shakespeare’s historical, political and literary background and on Shakespeare’s contemporaries, therefore changing its name to “Shakespeare and His Contemporaries Graduate Conference”. In 2010 the Conference became monothematic. 

In 2015, the Italian Association of Shakespearean and Early Modern Studies (IASEMS), which has supported this project since it began, took over the organisation of the Conference, which was then renamed “Shakespeare and his contemporaries – The IASEMS Graduate Conference at the British Institute of Florence”.

The title of the Conference in 2019 is: “Enter the Crowd. Mass Communication in Early Modern English”.

Here you can find the full programme for this year:




The Proceedings of the Shakespeare Graduate Conference 

The Shakespeare Graduate Conference was founded to give young scholars from various Italian universities the opportunity to present papers. For 20092013, 2014, the British Institute of Florence published the proceedings of the Conference. Since 2015 the Italian Association of Shakespearean and Early Modern Studies (IASEMS) has published the proceedings of the IASEMS Graduate Conference at The British Institute of Florence, with the linguistic supervision of the British Institute of Florence. Click on the relevant year to open the proceedings: 2015, 2017.

Click here to see the upcoming events  



From time to time small exhibitions are put on at the entrance to the Library, in the two glass cases in the corridor. The displays usually relate to lectures in the cultural programme, or else to literary and historical anniversaries. The books and other material on display all come from the Harold Acton Library or from the Archives of the British Institute of Florence.