Here are just a few of the best festivals in Italy. Whatever is celebrated, there is pageantry, wonderful food, and friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) competition!!
- Venice: La Festa della Sensa – On May 19-20, the Venetians celebrate the glory of their city with pageantry on their waterways.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 and July
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ascoli Piceno: Giostra della Quintana – Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche- on the first Sunday in August, more medieval pageantry, but this time with jousting!
- Greve: 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.
- Panzano: Vino al Vino Wine Festival – You can continue the fun during the 3rd weekend of September in the main square of Panzano.
- 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.
- 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
- 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!
- 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.