Flower festival in Noto, Sicily
During the short and dark days of winter, I can’t help but think about the best places to enjoy spring in Italy and like many of us I’ll start planning a sunny escape to wash away the winter blues.
Here’s a list of the best places to make the most of Italy in spring and enjoy the vibrant renewal of nature in all its glory:
Infiorata di Noto, Sicily (15 May 2016)
This is one of the most colourful festivals in the world where, for two and a half days, the street of via Nicolaci in Noto is taken over by local and foreign artists who work together on a specific theme to create a ‘carpet’ of petal mosaics using flowers that have been grown especially for the occasion. The work begins on the Friday, while the exhibition opens over the weekend as flower artists travel from all over the world to take part.
Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also definitely worth visiting for its wonderful Baroque buildings and its impressive Cathedral.
The Race of the Candles has been celebrated on Saint Ubaldo’s eve since the 12th century. The candles consist of 3 huge wooden octagonal constructions up to 7 metres in height, each surmounted by one of three statues: Saint Ubaldo, Saint Giorgio and Saint Anthony. It begins early in the morning before the afternoon procession, the ‘race’ which is more of a fast-paced, high excitement dash around the streets as the statues are carried high, but Saint Ubaldo always wins! A very colourful event with thousands of spectators.
Gubbio, where the race takes place, is the oldest town in Umbria and a masterpiece of medieval architecture, rich in historical and artistic heritage and well known for its palaces, churches and cathedrals.
Exhibition of ancient camellias at Lucca,Tuscany (12-13, 19,20, 26-27 March 2016)
Scattered through the hills of Lucca and Capannori, often hidden in the gardens of the most beautiful and historic homes found in the area, grow some of the oldest camellias in Europe. Imported from the Far East during the 18th century by Lucca’s prosperous merchants, these extraordinary plants spread across Tuscany where they found a perfect microclimate. These thriving conditions are responsible for their wide cultivation in the area, where camellias provide a stunning and elegant adornment for local parks and gardens.
During the prestigious festival, “The Village of the Camellias” – the tiny hamlet of Pieve and San Andrea di Compito, located in the municipality of Capannori – opens the doors of its stunning gardens to thousands of visitors from around the world, while the village comes alive with activities and events (spanning three weekends). It is indeed a rare delight to walk 1,000 square-foot gardens of rare plants and hundreds of species of camellias.
Lucca is also renowned for its well preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic centre and its cobblestone streets.
Which are your best places to enjoy spring in Italy?