The end of the year for me is not just the time to review what’s happened in the last 12 months, but as a Tour Manager and an intrepid and curious explorer, this is also the perfect time to start planning future travel adventures. And for all of you fellow explorers, I have put together a selection of the best and most original things to do and places to visit in Italy in 2018.
Happy travels and don’t forget to share this with your family and friends to help them plan a special trip to Italy!
- Palio di San Antonio (21/01/18) : This is often a summer event, but in the Tuscan town of Buti, they hold their palio in January. Processions and festivities lead to a horse race with all the neighbourhoods competing for supremacy https://www.toscanainside.com/it/eventi-in-toscana/evento/palio-di-buti/
- New Year’s Day on the beach – The Lido, Venice : There is nothing like a bracing dip in the sea to wash away the previous night excesses and many Venetians will be taking to the sea on New Year’s Day, though many more will be cheering the swimmers on all safely wrapped up………
- Almond Blossom Fair in Agrigento, Sicily (first 10 days in February): The Festa del fiore di mandorlo in Agrigento is one of the truly great celebrations of the new year. While we in the north are still in the depths of winter, on Sicily’s south coast, spring is already on its way and the festival coincides with the start of the spring planting season.
- Viareggio Carnival in Tuscany: Dating to 1873, this is considered to be among the most renowned carnival celebrations, not just in Italy, but across Europe. Known for having the best costumes, floats and parades, everything about it is over the top, with more than a million people descending each year to join the party atmosphere. Some of the floats have been known to be as tall as five or six-storey buildings! Definitely not one to be missed if you want a true carnival experience. http://viareggio.ilcarnevale.com
- Cioccolentino in Terni, Umbria (from 10/02/18 to 14/02/18): Who doesn’t love chocolate? And where better to go than the country of romance to enjoy tastings, shows, decoration lessons and mouthwatering exhibits? Just in time for Valentine’s day, this chocolate-lover’s dream is perfect for finding chocolates for that special someone or if you are alone, just treat yourself!
- Photoshow in Rome – Fiera di Roma (from 30/03/18 to 02/04/18): This international fair is dedicated to the world of photography and features more than 300 displays of the best visual, digital and traditional art forms. Hundreds of exhibitors will be in attendance, with workshops on 3d imaging, Polaroid cameras and much more. What better place than Rome to seek advice on capturing those perfect snapshot moments?
- Exhibition of ancient camellias at Lucca, Tuscany (10-11, 17-18, 24-25 March 2018): Imported by merchants in the 17th century, on the gentle hills of Lucca are some of the oldest camellia plants in the world. One day will be dedicated to ‘the gardens and the music’, visiting the famous Giardino di Boboli in Florence and the Villa Caruso, where a special concert will take place. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, it is a rare delight to walk the 1,000 square-foot gardens of rare plants and hundreds of species of camellias.
- Venice International boat show: A great time to visit Venice is during this vibrant boat show, which takes place over two weekends and offers an alternative to the typical gondola scene. Held every year in the Parco San Giuliano, this popular show is a favourite with boat exhibitors and admirers alike. A fantastic opportunity to learn more about sailing boats from the experts and witness some exciting sporting displays.
- The Golden Frog Race or Palio della Rana in Fermignano, Marche (date tbc): this is an amusing and somewhat bizarre Italian tradition. Young men in regional costumes run around the 170m track carrying a single frog in a wheelbarrow. Each frog is examined by a medical specialist before and after the race – yes, really. There are many other attractions including falconers, music, fireworks and a parade through town with lords and ladies, knights and dramatic drums.
- Corsa dei Ceri, Gubbio, Umbria (15/05/18): 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.
- Infiorata di Noto, Sicily (18-19-20/05/18): 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.
- Cantine aperte, Gaiole, Tuscany (last Sunday in May): Here’s one for wine connoisseurs! Cantine Aperte or Open Cellars is the most important event dedicated to wine tourism in Italy where you can meet with wine producers, witness where the wine is expertly created, take part in guided tastings and feast on gourmet dinners known as Dinner with the Winemaker!
- Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Umbria (from 30/06/18 to 16/07/18): Festival of two Worlds is one of the oldest and most important festivals in Umbria, as well as a world-renowned event and for a while the only of its kind in Italy. The vision of the founder of this festival was the one to unite two cultures and two art worlds, the European and the American, dedicated to art in all its forms and expression. In the 17 days of the festival, which usually begins in the last friday of June, take turns ballet, opera, painting, lectures, concerts, theatre, conferences, church music, readings, puppet shows and contemporary art.
- Battle of the Flowers in Ventimiglia, Liguria (from 16 to 17 June 2018): Every year, this little town near San Remo and the French border celebrates flowers: there’s a lavish parade, music, dancing, and on Sunday, a battle of flowers, with buds showering the streets. The festival’s past visitors have included Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant.
- St. John’s Day at Isola Comacina, Lombardy (23-24/06/18): For the past 600 years, Lake Como has celebrated the Day of St. John the Baptist by reenacting the burning of Comacina island! The actual event took place on June 24, 1169, when Barbarossa and Como’s leaders lit the island on fire. Between the fantastic pyrotechnics, music, boat procession, and food events, what more could you want!
Watch out for a list of the next 6 months of exciting events to come very shortly!
Featured Image: Carnival in Viareggio, Tuscany