Celebrity Fight Night in Italy returned for its third annual event, this year taking philanthropic donors and specials guests on a 5-day excursion through Florence, Lajatico and Venice where they were treated to the very best arts, entertainment and culture in the region.

Brian McKnight and Colbie Caillat

Celebrity Fight Night, a star-studded annual charity event, has raised $127 million for many charities throughout its 22-year history, most significantly for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ. This year’s event raised an incredible $4 million dollars benefitting the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.

Andrea Bocelli honours Queen Rania of Jordan
Andrea Bocelli honours Queen Rania of Jordan

More than 100 philanthropists traveled to Italy to participate in the “benefit trip” where Italian designer Stefano Ricci kicked off the festivities in Florence on September 8. Stefano Ricci took guests through the Basilica di Santa Croce, also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, where Italian greats such as Michelangelo and Galileo were laid to rest. After exploring the Cappella dei Pazzi, the evening concluded in the Cloister of the Basilica with dinner and music, led by Andrea Bocelli.

The following afternoon, guests departed Florence on a scenic drive through Tuscany to Lajatico, the birthplace of Andrea Bocelli, where Andrea and Veronica Bocelli welcomed everyone for an unforgettable night with guest of honor Nicolas Cage, who received the “Andrea Bocelli Humanitarian Award.” The evening included aperitifs at the magnificent Teatro del Silenzio, and a gourmet dinner at the country home of the Bocellis, with memorable entertainment by musical artists David Foster, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Peter Cetera, Colbie Caillat, Jordan Smith, and Bocelli himself. Additional guests included Evander Holyfield, Melissa Peterman, and more. The next day, everyone boarded a privately chartered train to Venice for an exciting day of exploration in one of the world’s most romantic cities that included lunch at the stunning Palazzo Pisani Moretta and a gondola ride to St. Mark’s Square, before returning to Florence.

The pinnacle of this five-day experience was the featured gala on September 11, where guests walked the red carpet in the historical Salone dei Cinquecento at the Palazzo Vecchio. This massive Romanesque fortress-palace is one of the most impressive town halls in all of Tuscany; and it again opened exceptionally to host the gala. Andrea Bocelli, along with the extraordinary Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under the direction of the great Maestro Zubin Mehta, headlined the evening. Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan received the “Andrea Bocelli Humanitarian Award” onstage, and Lonnie Ali was honored for her incredible philanthropic achievements, having been a part of Celebrity Fight Night along with her late husband, Muhammad Ali, for nearly two decades.

The event concluded with a special evening in the heart of Florence that started at the Palazzo Spini Feroni, home to the Global Flagship Headquarters of Salvatore Ferragamo and the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo. The Ferragamo family themselves welcomed guests with a cocktail and a visit to the museum and the shop, before guests were led to the nearby Palazzo Corsini for a night of dining and dancing.

As a result of the funds raised by this third edition of Celebrity Fight Night in Italy, The Andrea Bocelli Foundation will assure continual access to education to the 2,550 students of 5 schools in Haiti to assure a salary for the teaching staff and to the grant all of the children the necessary healthcare treatments.

The five-day experience was sponsored by Stefano Ricci, GVM La Civiltà del Marmo, Peak6 Best Marble, Ermanno Scervino, Falconeri, Fratelli Piccini Firenze, Mikimoto, Jeep, Fregoli Luxury Bags, Salotti del Gusto, Excellence Magazine, and Euro-Toques.

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