Each May in Florence, Italy there is an event that is held in the highest esteem amongst the musical community. After the iconic Florentine nightclub, Tenax, celebrates it’s closing party at the beginning of the month, the visionaries at Fragola prepare for their flagship event…Sunflower. What started as an open-air villa party in 2009 has evolved into one of the most anticipated parties of the summer season, and for good reason.
Taking place at Manduca, an open air venue just five miles north of the city center, Sunflower is the complete embodiment of the warm and radiant atmosphere that is often associated to Italian culture. Every year at this time, Manduca completely transforms to fulfill the vision of what Sunflower is; a vibrant celebration of life and music. The 2015 Sunflower Opening exceed any and all expectations, and there couldn’t be a more appropriate way to start the summer season.With approximately 1,500 in attendance, Sunflower 2015 was by far their largest turnout to date.
[Video Courtesy of Fragola è Federico Lanzini]
The lineup for the 2015 Sunflower Opening was made up of a very talented array of Italian artists featuring Benji back-to-back with Simone Romaniello, Romano Alfieri, Philipp, Cole, Federico Grazzini, Luca Ballerini, and the special guest hailing from Argentina, Franco Cinelli. For a party that runs as long as Sunflower (from about 2:00 PM to 3:00 AM) it is essential for the musical programming to be appropriate and on point. It goes without saying that this roster of artists all tapped into the energy of the party, providing incredibly memorable sets that each seemed to be one piece of a large musical puzzle.
Sunflower got off to a blissful start with Benji and Simone Romaniello laying down smooth grooves welcoming everyone to the event. The festive crowd was greeted by open air cuts such as Delano Smith’s Remix of Hide with the deep kick and ethereal atmosphere setting the tone for the magic that was about to occur within the small space of Manduca. It didn’t take long for the party to reach capacity either. No surprise here, as the highly anticipated Sunflower event sold out very quickly, receiving an overwhelming amount of support leading up to this perfect Sunday.
With the party in full swing, it was clearly evident that all previous hype was well warranted. The cheers and smiles from the crowd were in abundance and the energy was infectious throughout the party. All this was racing through my mind, and I had to pause for a moment and realize it was only 4:00 PM…this was only just the beginning of Sunflower. And it was at this point that I realized that Fragola is onto something truly special with Sunflower.
Following Benji and Simone was Romano Alfieri. Not missing a stride, he began dropping a selection of tracks that fit the perfect soundtrack to the open-air festivities. Working the crowd into a proper groove, Alfieri then handed things off to Sunflowers special guest, Franco Cinelli. Franco Cinelli is a staple in the Argentinian house scene, with numerous releases on labels such as Esperanza, Bass Culture, Claque Music, and Abstract Theory. As soon as he stepped into the console the vibe clearly elevated with lush chord stabs echoing overhead while the sharp jackin’ grooves moved people in every direction. Cinelli moved effortlessly between tracks, showcasing his astute ear for music selection and his craftsmanship as a DJ. It’s safe to say that the attendees at Sunflower gave Franco Cinelli a warm Italian welcome.
As Cinelli finished his set it was the peak of the afternoon. The weather, music, and crowd could not have been better…but sunset was upon us. The Italian sunset on this particular Sunday evening could not have been more beautiful, and to top it off Philipp took the controls to deliver a plethora of deep, melodic, and techy cuts that he’s so well known for. The charming day time vibes were about to give way to the night where the party would elevate to another level, yet again.
Federico Grazzini and Luca Ballerini were responsible for curating the night vibes at Sunflower, and both were up for the task in closing out this incredibly special party. Unfortunately, due to an early morning flight Monday morning back to the United States I had to depart before the event was completely over. Halfway through the groovy techno of Federico Grazzini, it was time to say goodbye to many friends, old and new.
The 2015 Sunflower Opening was a great success for Fragola and kicked off the Summer season in grand fashion. With such a unique and authentic atmosphere, Sunflower accomplishes what so many parties aim to achieve. After experiencing Sunflower first hand, it’s now easy to understand why this is one of the most anticipated Summer parties in Italy. Fragola has since followed up the Sunflower Opening with their iconic lake party at Bahia Cafe, and plan to host several more parties throughout summer such as XL Day, Fragolas Night at Tartana, as well as the Sunflower Middle and Closing party.
[All Photos Courtesy of Luca Bergami]