Italy, it seems, is a country created for tourists. Besides its marvelous beauty, the traditional food that conquered the world, a glorious history and the center of the world’s largest monotheistic religion, Italy also offers an unimaginable abundance of attractions of all kinds, some of which are specifically designed for tourists and some of which have simply been held regularly for hundreds of years, but have also become a center of attraction for the masses of tourists who visit every year the land of the boot.
The same is true for annual festivals and events, which take place regularly, according to tradition, as the Italians like, throughout the year, providing interest, a reason to party and also attracting crowds of tourists. The Italians love to celebrate and host and so it happens that you can find different festivals and celebrations in all parts of the country, in each of the seasons, some more famous and some less so, but all of them are spectacular and colorful, interesting and delicious.
Acireale Carnival in Sicily – Carnevale di Acireale
Every year in January, the small Sicilian town becomes the center of the largest and oldest carnival in Sicily.
What to do: Carnival visitors can enjoy an impressive procession of trucks decorated with colorful flowers, on which clowns stand and throw flowers at the crowd. The entire event takes place accompanied by traditional music and an unmistakable carnival atmosphere, but in fact originally the event was a kind of annual meeting between the nobles and the commoners, during which the nobles drove around the city in carriages and threw sweets at the children.
Special preparation: like other parts of Italy, Sicily is also very cold at this time of the year, so you should bring warm clothes and clothes suitable for rain, as well as prepare in advance for busy days, take care of accommodation in advance and prepare for high prices and a large density of tourists.
The mask festival in Venice – Carnevale di Venezia
One of the most visited and famous events in the world, takes place in the winter. The event attracts huge amounts of tourists from around the world, who come to witness the colorful event with deep roots in the history of the city, which takes place during the month of February. The colorful masks are made of papier-mâché, produced according to the best tradition by artists and sold on every street corner. The center of the festivities is in St. Mark’s Square, from where various parades and shows depart, but you can also join a traditional masquerade ball in one of the city’s ballrooms, including dinner and costumes of course.
What to do: wear colorful costumes, put on theatrical masks and celebrate in the streets full of colorful and wonderful atmosphere.
Special preparation: the carnival is a very touristic event, so it is important to book places as far in advance as possible, to take into account that everything is more expensive, crowded and busy, and also to bring a lot of warm clothes, because it is cold in Venice in February.
Carnevale di Cento – Carnevale di Cento
A carnival in the spirit of the famous carnival of Rio in Brazil, takes place every year in the city of Chanto in the province of Emilia-Romagna during the months of February-March, for five Sundays only.
What to do: The carnival is very similar in its spirit and atmosphere to the famous Brazilian carnival, including decorated trucks, boisterous music, dancing, colorful costumes, street performances and even a samba school procession.
Special preparation: expect a particularly busy visit, when hundreds of thousands of tourists come to participate in the festivities, the hotels are full to the brim, so it is advisable to book places in advance and perhaps find accommodation at a site a little far from the city, to avoid overcrowding. During such periods the prices are also extremely high and the weather in this season is not yet warm enough, so you should prepare with warm clothes and umbrellas.
In the video – Mask Festival in Venice 2020:
Spring is usually the start of the tourist season in Italy. Everything is more colorful, more festive, busier and more expensive, but there are also lots of colorful and interesting events.
Rome’s Spring Festival – Festa di Primavera
An annual festival that is held between the months of April and June and attracts many thousands of tourists. The festival events take place in different parts of the city, along the Tiber river, under the sky, or in closed halls.
What to do: concerts, dance and art shows, sports events – over 800 different events make the festival period in a particularly turbulent and interesting city.
Special preparation: The spring months, in which the festival takes place, are, as mentioned, the busiest months of the tourist season in Italy in general and in Rome in particular, therefore the high density, high prices and preparation as early as possible in terms of finding accommodation in the city must be taken into account. It is recommended to look for places to stay far from the city center, or outside the city, to move around the city using public transportation only and to order tickets for the various shows and events in advance.
Verona wine competition – Vinitaly
An annual event, which takes place every year in April and is the largest international wine competition and exhibition in the world. At the same time, this is one of the more “younger” festivals in Italy, when the first event took place in the sixties, compared to other festivals and events that have been held in Italy for hundreds of years in a row.
What to do: The event attracts thousands of wine professionals from around the world, who come to present their wares, compete for various titles and receive prizes.
Special preparation: Verona is a naturally touristic city, especially in the spring months, so the days of the festival are even busier than usual and you should prepare as much as possible in advance in terms of booking accommodation, particularly high prices and greater density than usual. The month of April in Italy brings with it a welcome respite from the cold, but it is still not really hot, so it is important to have warm clothes and you should also avoid traveling by private car within the city, due to the difficulty of finding an organized parking lot. Therefore, it is recommended to familiarize yourself with the means of public transportation in the city in advance and purchase appropriate tickets.
According to tradition, ancient Rome was founded in 753 BC on April 21, which is also the day when birthday celebrations are held in the Italian capital.
What to do: street fairs, fireworks displays, historical re-enactments by costumed actors, circus, re-enactment of chariot races from Roman times and the highlight – a huge celebration at the Colosseum.
Special preparation: as expected, the city is very busy on this day, more expensive than usual, crowded and it is not advisable to travel by private car but by public transport. You should purchase tickets for public transportation in advance, book accommodations far from the city center if you want to save a little on expenses and sleep peacefully at night, or rather close to the city center if you are interested in being close to the center of the action.
The Feast of the Ascension in Venice – Festa Della Sensa
One of the most important festivals in the city is held every year, 40 days after the Easter celebrations, around May 11. The festival is one big celebration to mark Venice’s marriage to the sea.
What to do: A procession from the church to the sea, led by the mayor, at the end he throws a golden ring into the water, symbolizing the union of the city with the sea. Then two days of non-stop celebration begin, including food, music, a large fair and a gondola race.
Special preparation: as always in Venice, even during the Pasta della Sansa period, the city is packed to the brim with tourists, crowded and cramped, very expensive and hard to find accommodation. It is recommended to spend the night outside the city, arrive for one concentrated day of travel and recreation and continue from there to less busy destinations.
Chianti Wine Festival – Chianti Wine Festival
One of the famous products of the rich Tuscany region, is Chianti wine that comes from the Chianti Classico region. Weekly wine tastings are held at a permanent site in the area, called “Piazza Matteotti”, where the annual wine festival is also held. The usual date for the festival is at the end of May and the beginning of June.
What to do: Visitors can purchase tickets that give them the right to sample all types of wine and the delicious food of the region, served as part of the festivities.
Special preparation: apart from the regular recommendation to book as many accommodation places and participation tickets in advance as possible, in Tuscany it is actually better to travel with a private car, prepare in advance for the high prices and bring glasses of wine with you because the glasses tend to run out quickly due to the huge number of wine-loving visitors.
Giro d’Italia – Giro d’Italia
A huge and important bicycle race, held for over 100 consecutive years on roads between the most beautiful landscapes of the land of the boot, between the months of May and June. The route changes every year, but remains 4,000-3,000 km along the length and breadth of Italy and often also enters the neighboring countries, so it may start in Italy and end in France for example (in 2018 he even visited Israel).
What to do: The starting point of the race and its ending point change every year, but traditionally, at these points, lavish and lavish celebrations are held, which are worth coming and participating in, even if you are not a die-hard sports fan.
Special preparation: the dynamic nature of the event requires regular updates on the starting, ending points and the route itself. Sometimes considerable parts of the route are located outside of Italy, so it is important to keep up to date with accurate and up-to-date dates and places.
In the video – Ascension Day celebrations in Venice 2016:
Saint John the Baptist – La Festa di San Giovanni
What to do: Two days of celebrations, in which there is a festive parade, a fireworks show, various events, music, parades, traditional bonfires and more.
Special preparation: apart from the usual preparation on holidays, which includes booking accommodation, tickets for public transport (because it is not recommended to enter Italian cities with a car during peak periods) and for shows, high prices and great crowding, it is important to know that many public offices and businesses are closed on holidays.
Venice Film Festival – Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia
The oldest film festival in the world was founded in 1032 and has been held since then every year towards the end of August. The festival does not take place right within the city limits of Venice, but on a nearby island and is considered a prestigious and famous festival.
What to do: Films are screened in the island’s historic Cinema Square, but the festival is part of the Venice Biennale, so in the city itself you can see music, theater and dance performances, art and architecture exhibitions.
Special preparation: a famous and well-regarded festival, which attracts crowds of visitors, makes Venice more crowded than usual and requires advance booking of accommodation and tickets for the various events. It is recommended to avoid arriving in Venice itself if the film festival is the focus of interest. You can spend the night on Lido Island, where the film festival takes place, or on the nearby islands.
Ferragosto – Ferragosto
A traditional holiday that takes place every year in the middle of August. This is an ancient holiday that originates in the 18th century BC, when they used to mark the end of the agricultural season with days of celebration and rest, in which they also gave animals such as donkeys and horses the respect they deserved, decorated them with flowers and let them rest from the exhausting agricultural work.
What to do: Most Italians celebrate with their family members in the great outdoors, preferably in the family’s village of origin. Today you can see remnants of the special treatment that used to be given to animals on this holiday in the past, in the form of horse races for example, like the one traditionally held in Siena, but there are also traditional celebrations in the cities, which include fireworks shows, fairs, music and more.
Special preparation: keep in mind that the movement of Italians from the cities to the villages creates many traffic jams on the country’s intercity roads and many businesses close.
In the video – a spectacular light show on the Feast of John the Baptist in Turin 2019
All Saints’ Day – Ognissanti
A religious and public holiday, celebrated every year in November, to honor the memory of the Catholic martyrs, especially those who do not have a special holiday in the Christian calendar.
What to do: Italians usually visit the cemeteries and decorate the graves of their ancestors with flowers, have festive meals and in some places also a procession from the city center to the cemetery, hand out special sweets, toast chestnuts, decorate the houses with pumpkins and light bonfires.
Special preparation: the holiday is celebrated all over Italy, so there is no central event center, at the same time it is a holiday and vacation for most Italians, so many businesses and offices remain closed on the holidays.
Grape harvest season
The grape harvest season in Italy is autumn. This is also the time for travelers in Umbria and Tuscany to come and participate in the grape harvest process and then also enjoy the wine production process and of course tastings and tours. The activity is suitable for the whole family and offers a great alternative to the busy tourist season in spring.
Various seasonal food festivals
Truffles, almonds, chestnuts and potatoes are just some of Italy’s autumn harvest and food celebrations are springing up across the country like mushrooms after the rain. which find local festivals almost everywhere.
What to do: Every city, or town, celebrates its agricultural produce and local harvest in diverse, colorful, happy and delicious ways. It can be wine, chocolate, porcini mushrooms, seafood, sausages and more.
Advance preparation: you must find out in advance which celebrations are held in the area you are traveling to and what the focus of the celebration is, as well as take into account the expected crowding, the high prices and fully booked hotels.