Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance. It is a land rich in artistry and culture. From amazing sceneries in San Gimignano and Lake Garda to some of the best places on the Amalfi coast, you are sure to have a memorable time in this beautiful country.
While Italy has a host of towns, landmarks, ruins, and galleries, going to one of their events is how you will get to know the soul of the place.
So, get your calendar out; pen and paper ready; and let’s explore some cool festivals and celebrations you should try out.
- Capodanno, Italy
Italians, like everyone else on the planet, eagerly celebrate the arrival of il Capodanno or the New Year. Held on 31st December, this festival also coincides with the feast day of Pope San Silvestro.
If you decide to ring into any bar, restaurant, or piazza, you will likely have your eyes water as you take in the magnificent fireworks lighting up the New Year’s skies. Your attention will then probably be stolen by the equally excellent Italian cuisine.
The inevitable closure of eateries and stores on 1st January doesn’t mean you should remain indoors. Instead, try to make it to the special events that happen all around the city. The Venetians, for instance, have a traditional New Year dip in the freezing lagoon waters.
- Carnevale, Venice
This festival is held from the 15th to the 25th day of February. While you can choose to make your stay in majestic Venice for the world-renown carnival, plenty of other towns celebrate this occasion in the own way. Carnevale is especially fun on the weekends, with the final weekend finishing the celebration off with a bang.
Viareggio, a southern town, marks its Carnevale festivities every Sunday in February with human-made floats. In Ivrea, a tiny town in Piedmont, people celebrate the last three days of the celebrations with a massive food fight called The Battle of the Oranges. By all means, ‘a carnevale ogni scherzo vale’, which means ‘at the carnival, anything goes.’
- Rome’s birthday celebration
On April 21st, you have a chance to do as the Romans do – party for days in typical Roman fashion to celebrate the city’s ‘birthday.’ The people of Rome commemorate their legendary city’s founding in 753 BC by Romulus. In 2021, this great city turns 2774 years old! Romans give a nod to their ancient history in a couple of exciting celebrations.
The whole shindig begins with a costumed parade at the Circus Maximus. For the next couple of days, they celebrate their rich history with traditions like the tracciato del solco (a trench-digging activity). They also carry out re-enactments of the Palilia ceremony (honoring the mythical goddess Pales), do mock gladiator battles, and end the celebration with another costumed parade at the Circus Maximus.
- Palio dell’Assunta, Siena
Formerly known as the Palio di Siena, this is Italy’s most famous horse race. It was renamed Palio dell’Assunta to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on 15th August. This festival occurs twice a year, on 2nd July and 16th August; done consistently since 1644. In a hair-raising showing of equine resolve, ten stallions and their jockeys race fiercely around the dirt-covered Piazza del Campo. Ten out of 17 of Siena’s neighborhoods (contrade) are represented by a steed and rider in each race. The winner brings honor to his area for the rest of the year.
- Regata, Venice
Known in full as the Regata of the Ancient Marine republics, this is a boat race of renown that occurs using pontoons called gozzi. Each of these is paddled with a team of eight rowers from one of the four ancient oceanic republics; these old maritime powers include Genoa, Venice, Pisa, and Amalfi.
However, before the regatta occurs, a brilliant costume parade occurs with representatives of each republic adorning customary medieval garb—the celebration venue shifts with every year.
Once the event is done, four different races happen based on boat type and age. The clear favorite is, however, the Campioni su Gondolini, where small but fast gondolas cruise to victory along the Grand Canal.
- Fiera Internazionale del Tarfuto Bianco d’Alba, Alba
Foodies everywhere will relish the opportunity to attend Italy’s harvest festivals. Alba holds its famous white truffle market and fair, which holds a special place in the hearts of all Italians. This festival starts in early October and has its advent in mid-November. These fairs are held at the end of the week during this period.
The festivities typically begin with a night filled with shows and gastronomic booths and end with the truffle closeout. Other territories that mark this occasion are Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche, Molise, and Emilia-Romagna.
With all the fun, culture, food, and bright lights that come with these Italian celebrations and festivals, the only thing remaining to be said is benvenuto in Italia! Welcome to Italy!