Italy has lots of festivals and special occasions that are celebrated annually and Italian festivals are a great way to party whilst immersing yourself in the culture. Many of the festivals have religious or historical roots (or both) and some are famous all over the globe. Below we’ve mentioned just a few of the festivals that are coming up this year, some of them dating back hundreds of years.
The Montà Food and Wine Festival - May
This festival is actually a well kept secret with not many tourists in attendance, it provides the perfect opportunity for local businesses to promote their products and produce. The fun begins in the town of Montà where you queue up for your own basket which conveniently comes complete with cutlery, wine glass, tea towel and a plate! You start a walk which will last around five kilometres, along the way you pass stalls and tables setup with local Italian food and wine for you to taste and enjoy. The festival is said to be a great party where everybody is in high spirits and of course rather drunk by the end! For more information on the amazing food Italy has to offer, have a look at www.famousitalianfood.com for a growing selection of great Italian dishes and the best recipes to go with them.
Culture Festival - 16th-25th April
This culture festival in Rome is now in its 12th year. It was introduced to promote awareness of the culture and history the city and for the whole week all the galleries, museums, archaeological sites and other areas of interest are all open to the public free of charge. They say that approximately 40% of all the world’s cultural heritage is in Italy so now’s your chance to see it all for free. If you’re looking for a guest house in Rome – visit PensionKenzo.com.
Umbria Jazz Festival - 9 - 18 Jul 2010
For these 10 days in July, the Umbria Jazz festival takes over the city of Perugia. Everyone gets involved, from the museum’s exhibiting iconic jazz paintings and photography to the pastry shops making cakes in the shape of musical instruments. There are free daily open air concerts but Santa Giuliana Arena is the place where the most famous names appear. Artists such as Stan Getz, Miles Davis and BB King have all performed here in the past. The festival allows you to enjoy the Umbrian atmosphere to a soundtrack of Jazz.
Luminara of Saint Ranieri - June the 16th
The patron saint of Pisa, Saint Ranieri died in 1688 and every year since, on the anniversary of his death around 9.30pm, his life is celebrated with an amazing candle display. The Arno River and the buildings that surround it become illuminated with the flames of over 70,000 small candles. Even the river is filled with with even more floating candles, transforming the whole area into a.. Be sure to stick around in the evening because the town centre is enlivened by numerous parties, music and fun. All this plus a fantastic fireworks display at midnight - what more could you ask for!
Carnevale di Venezia - 26th Feb to 8th March 2011
The biggest event held in Venice every year has got to be the Carnevale di Venezia. The Venice Carnival usually kicks off sometime in January or early February every year and lasts for ten days and nights, you may have missed it this year but the Carnival of Venice 2011 is set to run from the 26th Feb to the 8th of March next year. The celebrations are massive and nothing is held back, with revellers dressing up in authentic extravagant costumes and masks, the parties spill out on to the streets with a merry atmosphere. The Carnival has historical roots dating back hundreds of years and the demand for Venetian masks and costumes is so high come carnival time, mask makers have to work all year round to supply for the huge demand. Most Venetians take part in the festival but the majority of people in attendance are foreigners who make long trips to join in on the fun.
Festa di San Lorenzo - 10th August
The Basilica of San Lorenzo was one of the first churches in Florence, and these two days are in honour of its anniversary. This celebration begins after a hour long Mass inside the San Lorenzo usually held at 6pm. After this, the market stalls that lined the streets during the day are taken away to make room for the festivities to begin. The Piazza San Lorenzo comes alive with musical performances from a variety of different types of traditional music. There is also free lasagne and watermelon for everyone that attends.
Estate Romana Festival -Jun - Sep 2010
This is probably Rome’s largest summer festival, running for the whole of the summer. With over 150 events ranging from Jazz, rock and classical performances, to sports, theatre, children's entertainment. One of the more popular events is the late-night open-air screenings of popular films that are projected on massive screens in Vittorio Emmanuele Square. A fantastic way to spend a summers evening in the heart of the city.
Venice Biennale - June 2011
A massive bi-annual festival of modern art, the Biennale celebrates everything from art, architecture, film, music, dance, theatre and history. The festival is held every two years for the duration of the summer months with the next one due around June 2011. The 54th exhibition will include displays from the Spanish-Icelandic artist duo Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson and artist Hany Armanious has been selected to represent Australia to name a couple. To get you excited for next year, above you can see some pictures from last year’s exhibition which attracted over 300,000 visitors by the festivals end.
The Venice Film festival - 1st-11th September 2010
Although not as famous as Cannes, the Venice film festival is the oldest in the world and is very much respected among members of the film industry. Last year the festival was part of the Biennale. Films are screened for audiences and the “Golden Lion” award is given to the very best films, previous winners include “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Magdalene Sisters” Tickets naturally sell out very fast and booking accommodation during the film festival can be difficult, make sure you’re first so that you don’t miss out.
Have you been to any of these festivals or do you have a recommendation for the list? Leave me a comment below as I'd love to hear from you.
Sites you may find useful:
Italy: Travel information about Italy, each region and the main tourist cities.
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