- Il Palio di Siena, Tuscany (02/07/15): The Palio which started in 1310 is a horse race between the city’s contrade (districts) at the historic Piazza del Campo. Thousands of spectators get involved and for the locals it’s the event of the year, marked with huge celebrations for the winners and tears for the losers. Between the rivalries, the excitement of the race itself and the medieval feel of the whole thing – from the banners to the songs – it’s an experience unlike anything you have seen. Just make sure you arrive by 3pm to have a chance of a view of the race, unless you have a ticket!
- Festa della Bruna in Matera, Basilicata (02/07/15): For centuries, Matera has celebrated the feast of Madonna della Bruna. The feast day kicks off with a procession of shepherds and fireworks, an elaborate float for the Madonna, which the people of Matera have worked on for the past year, parades through the city escorted by ‘knights’. At the end of the procession, surrounded by crowds, the float is destroyed by the very people who turned out to see it! The evening sees more fireworks.
- Mandstock Festival in Arco, Trentino (from 30th July to 2nd August 15): This festival truly has something for everyone! Spread over four days and immersed in nature, you can swim, mountain bike, rock climb and skate, with the music playing behind you. Go to www.mandstockfestival.com.
- Beach on Fire in Venice (29/08/15): It’s the world longest pyrotechnic display – 13 km of fireworks above Venice’s coastline. Crazy!
- Ravello Festival in Campania (until 27th August): A series of concerts, talks and performances take place in the beautiful town of Ravello on the Amalfi coast; many of the concerts are on the outdoor Belvedere, a gorgeous spot in the famed Villa Rufolo with a backdrop of the sea.
- Paper Lantern Festival in Florence (7th September 15): When darkness falls in Florence on this day, paper lantern parades take place in celebration of the Virgin Mary’s nativity. Children carry colourful paper lanterns through the streets and if you look into the night sky, you’ll see hundreds of little lights floating away. A perfect romantic evening!
- Regata Storica in Venice (6th September 15): Venice’s historic boat race has four categories of competitors: children, women, men in six-oars boats, and the champions racing in boats with just two oars. The races are preceded by a huge parade along the water front and will provide laughter as well as exhilaration!
- Truffle fair in Alba, Piedmont (from 10/10/15 to 15/11/15): There are plenty of truffle festivals throughout Italy in October, but the biggest and arguably the best is the one held in Alba, Piedmont. The highly-prized and highly-priced white truffles are sniffed, tested and change hands with chefs from all over the world attending to pick up the famous gourmet ingredient. It’s a foodie’s paradise, even if you can’t afford to buy the larger specimens. Just soak up the atmosphere and of course, that unmistakable aroma!
- Eurochocolate in Perugia, Umbria (from 16/10/15 to 25/10/15): From the immense sculptures made from millions of chunks of chocolate and weighing thousands of kilos to the tiny, intricate cocoa-based creations ready for tasting, Eurochocolate is the place to head if, like most of us, you are chocolate-obsessed. At the festival you can taste, buy and learn to cook with the brown treasure, and there are lectures on what to look out for when testing the very best. Go to www.eurochocolate.com.
- Old and new flavours of Borgo Antico in Castelmenardo, near Rieti, Lazio (1st and 2nd November): The beautiful mountainside village of Castelmenardo in the province of Rieti in Lazio, is the setting for this small but enjoyable annual food and drink celebration. Local producers travel in from the surrounding towns and villages to tempt you with their wares, which range from delicious cheeses to fresh olives, home-made wines to different kinds of pasta, which you can feast on while crossing the picturesque streets of this historic setting.
- Fieracavalli in Verona (From 05/11/15 to 08/11/15): If your thing is Italian stallions, pull on your jodhpurs and heat to Verona for this four-day equestrian festival. Horse exhibitions have been happening here since 1898, so, as you’d expect, Fieracavalli is a well organised event with lots to see and do. Enjoy competitions in various disciplines, exhibitors from around the world, a children’s village and, if you are feeling particularly energetic, a country-dancing school!
- Natalidea-Ideaneve in Genoa, Liguria (from 6th to 8th December 15): This is a premier exhibition of arts and handicraft products as Christmas gifts. This is a great opportunity for Christmas shopping for the whole family enriched with tempting novelties and gifts that you won’t find elsewhere.
- Florence Noel starts at the end of November and runs through the first week of December. Florence Noel is a family event with lots of children’s activities including the house of Babbo Natale or Father Christmas. There is also a nativity village, food, chocolate and music.
I’d love to know if you have already attended any of the events I have listed and also which ones you are planning on attending in 2015. Enjoy your travels!
Featured Image: Palio di Siena in Tuscany