In here we share with you 10 festivals in Italy. Italian culture is rich, and anyone who travels to Italy leaves wishing they could have seen more of it. Luckily, we can still glimpse the authenticity of the country by putting a fabulous festival or two on our travel to-do lists.
This is a country and culture that celebrates everything: religious holidays, regional traditions and familial events are all cause for celebratory gatherings. It seems that there’s a festival for almost every Italian occasion. Let’s check some out—and maybe make some travel plans!
01. Carnevale (Festivals In Italy)
If the celebrations seem a little over-the-top, consider that the roots of this festival can be traced to Ancient Greece and Rome in celebrations that honored the god Bacchus (of wine) and Saturn. Some say they go even further back to primitive celebrations of the end of winter and beginning of spring.
Though its history is pagan, the festival was so widely celebrated and the tradition so strong that it was quickly adapted to fit into the Catholic rituals. During the 40 days of Lent, parties were forbidden and meat, sugar and fats were off-limits. Carnival fit in perfectly as a last hurrah and a way to finish all the stores of rich food and drink before Lent.
After weeks of mischief and parties, expect a more pious and solemn atmosphere in Italy during the weeks of Lent. Easter in Italy is as strongly felt and celebrated as Christmas.
02. Palio di Siena (Festivals In Italy)
the Palio, Italian in full Corsa del Palio (“Course of the Banner”), festival of medieval origin conducted annually in certain Italian cities and featuring bareback horse races. Best known to foreigners is the Palio of Siena.
Horse racing in Siena dates from 1232. The Palio was first held in 1482 as a civic celebration. The current course was formally established in 1659 and has been held semiannually on July 2 and on August 16 since 1701, except during wartimes. Lasting about a minute, the race consists of three turns around the Piazza del Campo, the main city square.
03. Battle Of Oranges (Festivals In Italy)
For the three days leading up to Fat Tuesday, the men, women, and children participate in the largest organized food fight in Italy – the Battle of the Oranges.
The origins of the fight are a little murky but seem to date back to a medieval revolt. In the 1100s, Ivrea was ruled by an evil tyrannical duke.
The legend says that this duke tried to attack a young miller’s daughter on her wedding night. Instead, she decapitated him and started a revolution. Following her lead, the townspeople of Ivrea stormed the palace and burned it to the ground.
Today, nearly a millennia later, the people of Ivrea commemorate their revolution. Although this time they are armed with oranges and padding, instead of swords and torches. Every festival, a local woman is elected to represent the brave miller’s daughter and lead the food fighting festivities.
04. Game Of The Bridge (Festivals In Italy)
The events are collected in the so-called ‘June Pisano’ the outcome of which is given precisely by the Game of the Bridge in Pisa. The program is always divided by two key moments: the historical parade (around eight at night) and the battle of the bridge in Pisa on the Mezzo Bridge (at about ten o’clock in the evening).
During the Battle of the Bridge, in Pisa the city’s districts challenge each other by pushing a cart from side to side on the rails installed along the bridge. The participating teams are united by membership to the historical districts of Pisa featuring flags, colours and unique sayings.
The Game of Bridge in Pisa is a very fierce competition in which two factions fight to win on the surface of the bridge and become the undisputed master. The parade is an important part of the event and strongly evokes the origins of the game of bridge due to the presence of more than seven hundred people parading along the Arno river in Pisa, creating a very charming medieval historical simulation.
5. Infiorata Festival (Festivals In Italy)
The “Infiorata Festival” is an Italian tradition that sees the streets paved with flowers during the month of May and June, from North to South, they are held in various Italian towns where these festivals take place. Individual artists display their talents on side streets and the public is invited to browse the “street gallery”.
The word “infiorata” literally means “decorated with flowers” and this is exactly how the paintings created for the occasion are made, using flower petals, earth and, sometimes, even beans or wood cuttings. Tracing its origins to the 13th century, the Infiorata flower tradition, as we know it today, dates back to the seventeenth century.
06. Easter Procession (Festivals In Italy)
This is an Easter festivity in the fullest of uniqueness as celebrated with great fervor and dedication in Italy. Being the longest-running procession in this country that lasts for approximately 24 hours, this festival is said to be the representation of the eternal journey of Jesus Christ from his passion until death.
The wooden statues displayed during the procession is the depiction of the Mystery of Christ and are a piece-of-art to describe the true ascent of that unique spirit.
07. Regatta (Festivals In Italy)
Dating back to the second half of the 13th Century, the Venice Historical Regatta is a spectacular competition whose origins are firmly entrenched in the history of Venice. As the maritime nation considered it vital to have expert oarsmen.
The Venice historical regatta, is the main regatta of the year. Although the other islands and communities of the Venetian lagoon also hold their own regatta’s throughout the calendar year. The Regata Storica takes place on the first Sunday of September in Venice, dates of other regatta’s can be found at the end of this document.
The historical regatta takes place on the Sunday afternoon. It begins with a ceremonial parade along the Grand Canal of historical boats manned by Venetians in period costume. The most important rowing races are between the various neighbourhoods of Venice.
08. La Quintana (Festivals In Italy)
La Quintana Medieval Joust and Parade festival is held twice a year in summers. The pinnacle of this event is the joust on horseback, an important competition among the 6 neighborhoods of Ascoli Piceno. In the contest, the sestieri (6 districts) stand up against each other in sports like archery and flag-throwing.
The main feature is the Joust (la giostra). Knights on horseback on a tight figure-eight shaped track with precision, launch a heavy joust into the target, called The Moor. The winner takes home the Palio, a hand-painted prized banner that will be displayed in the sestiere’s center.
09. Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (Festivals In Italy)
This Italian festival is held in Milan. The quite literal meanings of the words ‘Oh Bej! Oh Bej’ are ‘Oh so nice! Oh so nice.’ This is the most awaited and enthusiastically celebrated traditional Christmas festival amongst the natives. It is held in Piazza Castello – Via Gadio – Piazza Del Cannone. It is one of the most popular of all the events in the Sant’Ambrogio week.
The Christmas market has already had ancient history as old as five centuries ago since when it has been filled with candies, surprises and other gifts. Fiera di Sant’Ambrogio (“Saint Ambrose Fair”) is considered as the informal name of the fair. These preparations are for the Milanese festivities that are well known around the world. Oh Bej! Oh Bej! is celebrated in the honor of the city’s patron, Sant’Ambrogio and is held on December 7.
10. Festa Della Madonna Bruna (Festivals In Italy)
The Madonna Della Bruna refers to the Byzantine relic of Patron Saint, Maria Santissima della Bruna which is paraded every 2nd of July is the festival for this patron saint of Matera.
The attractions of this popular festival are grand processions, musical bands, market stalls, colored lights, and last but not the least extravagantly eye-boggling firework displays. They aptly describe the Festa Della Madonna Bruna in its true fervor of fun and entertainment.