Here are just a few of the best festivals in Italy: whatever they celebrate, there is pageantry and wonderful food and friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) competition!!
May / Venice
La Festa della Sensa – On May 19-20, the Venetians celebrate the glory of their city with pageantry on their waterways.
May / Gubbio
La Corsa dei Ceri – Onn May 15th, people of the beautiful hilltown in Umbria, Gubbio, have a day-long pageant celebrating the freedom won for this walled town. A race up the mountain with the “ceri” is won by team that drops these large wooden battering rams the least.
May and June / Noto, Spello and Genzano
The Infiorata Festivals in Noto (Sicily), Spello (Umbria) and Genzano (Lazio) are breathtaking! The streets of the historic centers of these town are decorated overnight. The next morning there appear giant intricate murals of flowers all over the streets in the most vibrant colors you can imagine.
June / Pisa
Il Gioco del Ponte – since 1568, on the last Sunday in June, warriors have done symbolic battle for supremacy of the Arno River by taking the main bridge in Pisa.
June / Florence
Calcio Fiorentina – An early form of soccer and much rougher, since the 16th Century, the squads from parts of Florence have a two day round robin competition until the winner is crowned. This takes place during the third week of June every year.
June / July Spoleto
Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi – is an annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July in Spoleto, Italy, since its founding by composer Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958. It features a vast array of concerts, opera, dance, drama, visual arts and roundtable discussions on science.
July / Matera
La Festa della Madonna Bruna – since 1389, on July 2nd, the people in Matera celebrate the blessing of a secret visit by the Madonna to their town.
July / Perugia
Umbria Jazz Festival
This amazing International Jazz Festival comes to Perugia every summer. This year headliners include Tony Benett and Lady Gaga, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock.
July and August / Siena
Palio di Siena- For six centuries, Sienese have fought for bragging rights in the race of steeds in the Piazza del Campo on July 2nd and August 16th. The night before all of the different sections of town party in the streets with food and wine until the procession of colors into the campo by each “team.” Afterwards, with a packed crowd watching, the horses thunder around the sand track. If a jockey should fall, no worries. The horse can finish on its own.
August / Ascoli Piceno
Giostra della Quintana – Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche- on the first Sunday in August, more medieval pageantry, but this time with jousting!
September / Greve
Greve In Chianti Wine Festival
On the second weekend in September (including Thursday and Friday), you can taste many of this region’s fantastic wines, along with incredible olive oils, salumi and cheese tastings.
September / Panzano
Vino al Vino Wine Festival
You can continue the fun during the 3rd weekend of September in the main square of Panzano.
September / Montefalco
Sagrantino Wine Festival – You’ll find a packed calendar of events at this Umbrian wine festival, including guided tasting sessions, lunches at the vineyards, horseback riding and biking along the beautiful Sagrantino Wine Trail.
September / Bra
Bra Cheese Festival
On alternating years (on for 2015), Slow Food hosts a celebration of small-scale production and organic and sustainable agriculture known as the Bra and Slow Food Cheese Festival. If you’re a cheese lover, you’ll find Italian favorites as well as other world famous cheeses
October / Perugia
Eurochocolate – Chocoholics won’t want to miss the Euro Chocolate Festival in Perugia, home to the Baci (kiss) chocolate made famous by Perugina. You’ll see a chocolate kingdom, including bricks, sculptures, and even chocolate pasta!
November / San Miniato
La Sagra del tartufo bianco – San Miniato is one of the most productive truffle-rich areas of Europe. This festival of White Truffles is 45 years old and has grown to become an international draw over three November weekends.