Events in the Harold Acton Library

Cultural Programme 

Lectures or concerts are organised on a regular weekly basis and take place at 18:00 on a Wednesday evening in the Sala Ferragamo, Palazzo Lanfredini. They generally last one hour and are followed by a reception with drinks. Subjects treated by recent lecturers have included art history, politics, literature, music and opera, astronomy and philosophy. There are three series each year: January to March, April to June, September to December. 

Click here to see the upcoming events  

Talking Pictures

Films in original language (if not in English, then with English subtitles) are shown  on a regular weekly basis and take place at 20:00 on a Wednesday evening in the Sala Ferragamo, Palazzo Lanfredini. There are three series each year: January to March, April to June, September to December. 

Each film series has a single theme, which might be an individual director, or else an author whose books have been adapted for the cinema. The screenings are followed by a discussion, with photocopied notes provided.   

Please subscribe to our newsletter here to receive the latest programme. 

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 €1.50 is requested which goes towards supporting the library.


The Harold Acton Library of The British Institute of Florence has launched a a regular story time event.

The monthly sessions introduce children aged three to eight to stories, craft activities, workshops, animated films, songs and rhymes. All activities take place in our beautiful and cosy children's room with view on the River Arno, where our collection of books for children and kids is held. Storytime is open 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.  

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

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. 

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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 and usually including a reading of the entire text. Anybody can contribute to the reading, in any language. During the week there are screenings of films based on Shakespeare plays and a lecture held by a distinguished Shakespearean scholar.

Shakespeare Week is open to students, researchers and the general public; however, it is necessary to be members of the Harold Acton Library to attend Shakespeare Week.

Click here for the Shakespeare Week 2018 programme.

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 its inception, 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 2018 is: “Conversion in Early Modern British Literature and Culture”. 

Full programme online:


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.

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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.