What to Expect in Pesaro, the 2024 Italian Capital of Culture

| Thu, 01/11/2024 - 13:12
Beachcombers at the Lido Pavarotti in Pesaro

Pesaro will hold the title of Italian Capital of Culture in 2024, following on the heels of twinned 2023 capitals Bergamo and Brescia. The official kickoff ceremony will take place on January 20.

Set on the Adriatic Coast in the region of Le Marche, Pesaro will hold the title for one calendar year and will receive €1 million to carry out initiatives previously outlined in its La natura della cultura-themed dossier

Pesaro’s 2024 calendar is packed with more than 300 events, large and small, spotlighting some 150 Italian and international artists, musicians, actors, journalists, politicians and other special guests. 

Whether you’re an opera buff, theater aficionado or just want to see the city all decked out for its banner year, here’s a rundown of what Pesaro and the surrounding area have in store for visitors in 2024. 


Teatro Rossini / Photo: Amati Bacciardi Studio
Teatro Rossini / Photo: Amati Bacciardi Studio

Pesaro’s year in the spotlight officially begins on January 20 at the Vitrifrigo Arena. Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, is expected to attend the morning ceremony at 11am; two free-entry concerts given by Max Gazzè (5pm) and the Orchestra Casadei (8pm) will follow. Night revelers can purchase tickets for Once a Year, an 11.30pm event with a variety of local and national entertainment acts, geared at a younger crowd.

Running throughout February and into the first days of March is a series of Settimane Rossiniane (Rossini Weeks) spotlighting the 19th-century opera composer and Pesaro native Gioachino Rossini through concerts, shows, workshops, conferences, gastronomic events and guided museum visits. Several highlights are to be held around February 29 (Rossini’s actual birthday during the leap year of 1792). March 5 will bring Rossini! Compleanno tra amici (“Birthday among friends”); beginning at 9pm at the Teatro Rossini, the local orchestra, together with soprano Maria Sardaryan and baritone Paolo Ingrasciotta, will perform music by the birthday honoree as well as by Beethoven and Luigi Ricci.


Parco San Bartolo
Parco San Bartolo / Photo: Leonardo Mattioli

The skin underneath: decolonizing the colony is a photographic installation zeroing in on the Villa Marina complex, a former summer colony, gym and social center that fell into disrepair in recent years. (It’s now owned partially by INPS, Italy’s National Institute for Social Security, and partially by the Municipality of Pesaro.) One of the facades currently undergoing renovation will host a photography installation exploring social and racial issues related to the history of the space. While the installation will be inaugurated on April 20, June will bring a public conference on related themes, as well as spinoff exhibitions in a variety of locations around town (with exact dates to be announced).

Moving from photography to performance, the national premiere of Fireflies Return: Spark by Studio Roosegaarde will take place on March 22 (with additional shows on March 23 and 24) at Miralfiore Park. Inspired by the reflections in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1975 essay The Disappearance of Fireflies, the show is a meditation on overconsumption, backdropped by thousands of tiny biodegradable fireflies (lucciole) sparkling and floating through the air. 

The “godmother of performance art” Marina Abramović will also have a place on the Pesaro 2024 program; her 2019 work The Life, staged in a format called Mixed Reality which integrates images and video projections into the real-world environment, will be shown at the Fondazione Centro Arti Visive Pescheria between May 20 and June 2, with exact dates and times still to be confirmed.

Those who prefer their realities left “unmixed” can enjoy We Nature, a series of hiking and biking excursions and other outdoor activities held throughout May in the Parco San Bartolo, just outside Pesaro in the village of Fiorenzuola di Focara.


International Film Festival
Crowds at the 2023 edition of the Pesaro International Film Festival / Photo: Luigi Angelucci

June will bring the Pesaro International Film Festival, founded in 1965 and still billed as one of the most important in Italy (early participants included the likes of Bernardo Bertolucci, Roberto Rossellini and Jean-Luc Godard). The festival focuses on emerging international cinematographers from as nearby as Spain and as far away as Japan. Each year a special event spotlights the work of one great Italian director; this year’s honoree is not yet confirmed at the time of writing. 

Wine lovers will have the chance to take part in Oltre: Piccola Fiera di Vini d’artigianato, a wine fair focused primarily on small producers, along Via Passeri on July 20. It’s a chance to discover local varietals and sample traditional street food of the area. A €20 pass will grant you unlimited tastings.

Peak summer brings one of Pesaro’s most popular and long-running events, the Rossini Opera Festival, which this year marks its 45th edition. From August 7 to 23, the festival, which spans 17 days — four more than in normal years — will feature performances showcasing some of the composer’s best works in a range of venues including the Teatro Rossini, the Vitrifrigo Arena and the Museo Nazionale Rossini. 


The late composer Riuichi Sakamoto
The late Japanese artist-composer-pianist Riūichi Sakamoto performing Kagami / Photo: Pesaro 2024

Culture vultures can embrace contemporary art and cooling temperatures from September 7 to 15 at the open-air Sculpture Park of Sant’Anna di Fossombrone, when guided art walks through the newest additions to the collection will be given by the local organization and creative residency Casa degli Artisti. The entire park, founded in 2010, remains open regularly and has some 200 sculptures and artworks to visit. 

Another key event in the September lineup will be the national premiere of Kagami (“Mirror” in Japanese), a performance by the late Japanese artist-composer-pianist Riūichi Sakamoto and Tin Drum. Showing at the Fondazione Centro Arti Visive Pescheria from September 2 to 15, the 60-minute immersive musical experience fuses photography, video art and augmented reality; audiences wear optical devices that offer an up-close view of Sakamoto’s musicianship and that help break down barriers between performer and audience.

If you go

Pesaro 2024

Many event details are still being confirmed. If you plan to visit Pesaro during its banner year, check out the official calendar of events on the Pesaro 2024 website.