Events and festivals in ItalyCelebrate the seasons in Italy this year
Italy may be filled with dozens of diverse regions, but as a country it knows how to celebrate! With festivals ranging from beautiful religious ceremonies to colourful food markets, and from historical reenactments to celebrations of chocolate, there's something to suit every interest. It doesn't matter when you choose to travel, or where you decide to go - throughout the year, there are hundreds of exciting Italian events to choose from.
May is a great time for celebrating spring, admiring flowers and tasting wine, whilst June and July are particularly good months to find local music and food festivals. Moving into August, Italians celebrate at the seaside and mountains whilst on holiday, but come September, they've returned to the city to make the most of summer before it ends. By October, Italy's sagre - or food festivals - are brimming with local truffles and mushrooms.
Of course, while you'll find plenty of small festivals throughout the year, the larger and more famous celebrations draw thousands of tourists from all over the world. Hotels are expensive, if you can find any with vacancies, and are often booked months in advance. With such stresses involved, why not consider holiday rentals in Italy this year instead? Not only are you offered more space and privacy - and the chance to make great savings in the process - but the chance to experience real Italian life, during every day of your stay.
Top events and festivals in Italy
Calendimaggio - When? May. Where? Assisi
Calendimaggio takes place in the beautiful town of Assisi, in Italy's 'green heart' Umbria. Its origins lie in bitter feuds between two medieval families, the Nepis and Fiumi, who resided in the 'Parte di Sopra' and 'Parte di Sotto' - or upper and lower parts of town - in the 14th century. Whilst their fights went on unchecked for over 200 years, hatred has today given way to a bit of harmless competition, in which two rival groups take part in a range of spectacular challenges. With competitions including theatre, singing, dancing, archery, crossbow firing, marching and flag-waving, it's certainly one of Umbria's most elaborate!
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Sagra di San Giovanni - When? June. Where? Lake Como
Lake Como, or Lago di Como, is Italy's deepest lake, and certainly its most beautiful during the Sagra di San Giovanni. While it boasts dozens of magnificent hiking paths, and offers excellent sailing and water activities year-round, it's a spectacular sight to behold in June. The oldest historic event on Lake Como, the revellers celebrate San Giovanni by sending out hundreds of tiny, twinkling lamps to float on the water in the evening, before holding an enormous fireworks display. The next morning, there's also a large parade of elaborately decorated boats, covered in flags and flowers, with performers and dancers on board.
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Il Palio de Siena - When? July & August. Where? Siena
Il Palio di Siena is possibly one of Italy's most famous events, a fast and furious bareback-horse race which takes place around Siena's central square, Piazza del Campo. Occurring twice, once in July and again in August, it's preceded by a spectacular procession, which features hundreds of the city's revellers in beautiful medieval costume. In both races, 10 of the city's 17 contrade, or districts, compete in the race, which sees onlookers shouting and singing for their favoured team. The winner is awarded with the prestigious silk palio, a flag, before the whole city is engulfed in an evening of music, celebration and song!
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Madonna degli Ammalati - When? September. Where? Sicily
Festival of the Madonna of the Sick takes place annually in the Sicilian town of Misterbianco, usually during the first weekend of September. A five day celebration, it honours the Madonna for saving her church from devastation during Mount Etna's catastrophic eruption in 1669. The church's enormous bell is carried around the town on Thursday evening, before being returned to its resting place at the Sanctuary at sunrise. Saturday is a colourful day of celebration, while on Sunday, 'La Cantata' sees hundreds of locals singing hymns and dancing. On Monday, a lively procession precedes a final and poignant display, during which fireworks illuminate the sky on top of the town's hill.
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Regatta Storica - When? September. Where? Venice
Water and gondolas usually come to mind when considering a holiday in Venice, so it's no surprise that the city's most famous event is a boat race on the Grand Canal. It begins with a beautiful historical procession - consisting of decorated, carved boats and people dressed in medieval costumes - which commemorates the welcome of Caterina Cornaro, the wife of the King of Cyprus who renounced her throne for Venice in 1489. Following the parade, the Regatta Storica consists of four races - for children, women, men and champions - which sees onlookers chanting and shouting for their favoured team.
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Eurochocolate - When? October. Where? Perugia
Eurochocolate is, unsurprisingly, an enormous celebration of chocolate! An annual event which takes place in Perugia - famous for delicious Perugina Baci chocolates - it's one of the largest of its kind in Europe. It draws around one million people every year, lasts for a rather indulgent nine days, and sees the city's many squares come alive with sweet-toothed tourists. There are hundreds of different snacks on offer, including chocolate-covered foods, chocolate liqueurs, chocolate bricks and chocolate drinks, as well as a huge variety of chocolate-related activities: from art displays to tastings, and from sculpting to spa treatments, it's a truly unmissable event for the chocoholics amongst you!