Throughout Italy, the variety of local character and color is astonishing. This is mainly due to the survival of regionalism, particularly in the southern parts of the country.
Old traditions, customs, and lifestyles are still greatly respected and there is a deep attachment to the land, which is reflected in a healthy interest in food and produce, as well as the perseverance of seasonal religious and secular events. Annual festivals, whether in rural or urban areas, range from wine tasting and gastronomic celebrations to elaborate commemorations of every patron saint imaginable.
Summer brings the crowds to Italy, particularly the cities. Italians, however, flee and head for the coast, usually in August. The lines for tourist attractions can be long and hotels are often fully booked. Festivals vary; religious events are interspersed with those of the arts and local folklore.
Festa della Fragola (Jun 1), Borgo San Martino, Piedmont. Musical and folkloric performances in celebration of the strawberry.
Biennale (Jun-Sep), Venice. The world’s biggest exhibition of contemporary art takes place during odd-numbered years only.
Infiorata (Corpus Christi day), Genzano, Lazio. A procession through streets carpeted with flowers.
Festa di San Giovanni (mid-Jun-mid-Jul), Turin, Piedmont. Festival in honor of the city’s patron, St. John.
Calcio Storico (Jun 24 and two other days in Jun), Florence. Soccer in 16th-century costumes; fireworks.
Festa di Sant’Andrea (Jun 27), Amalfi, Campania. Fireworks and processions.
Festival dei Due Mondi (late Jun-early Jul), Spoleto, Umbria. International festival of drama, music, and dance.
Gioco del Ponte (last Sun), Pisa. “The Bridge Parade” of marchers in antique armor.
Estate Romana (late Jun-mid-Sep), Rome. Open-air movies, performances, ballet, and concerts.
Corsa del Palio (Jul 2), Siena. Tuscany’s most famous event presents a medieval flag waving exhibition and horse race.
Festa della Madonna della Bruna (first Sun), Matera, Basilicata. A lively procession of clergymen and knights in costume.
Festa de’ Noantri (last two weeks of Jul), Rome. A colorful festival in the streets of Trastevere.
Festa della Santa Maria del Carmine (Jul 16), Naples. Featuring the illumination of the city’s bell tower.
UmbriaJazz (Jul), Perugia. World famous jazz artists perform.
International Film Festival (Jul-Aug), Taormina, Sicily.
Opera Festival (Jul-Aug), Verona, Veneto. Renowned opera festival overlapping with the Shakespeare Festival, providing music, drama, opera, and dance.
Medieval Palio (first weekend Aug) Feltre, Veneto. Parades and archery competitions, medieval-style.
Festa dei Candelieri (Aug 14), Sassari, Sardinia. “Festival of the Candle”, dating from the 16th century.
Festa del Mare (Aug 15), Diano Marina, Liguria. This “Festival of the Sea” boasts a spectacular firework display.
Corsa del Palio (16 Aug), Siena, Tuscany. See July entry.
Venice Film Festival (late Aug-early Sep). International festival on the Lido.
Rossini Festival (Aug-Sep), Pesaro, Le Marche. A celebration of the composer’s work, in his birthplace.
Settimane Musicali di Stresa (late Aug-end Sep), Stresa, Lombardy. Four weeks of concerts and recitals.