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Italy Events

Giostra della Quintana

Foligno in Italy is famous for this popular jousting festival which challenges the knights amongst its ten wards. Each knight riding has to catch a series of rings (which gradually become smaller) with his joust. The wooden statue from which these rings hang is called Quintana.


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Sagra del Pesce/Fish Festival

Since 1952, The Sagra del Pesce or ‘fish festival’ in the Ligurian fishing village of Camogli has taken place every year. The festival has the largest fish frying pan in the world, at five metres wide with a seven metre handle. Fishermen abandon their day jobs for the festival and cook their fresh catch for visitors and locals. The fish is handed out for free so visitors must be sure to get a good spot!


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Monterosso Lemon Festival

Every year, the Cinque Terre village of Monterosso dedicates a day to the locally grown lemon with the Lemon Festival. The village is covered in thousands of lemons with stalls selling lemonade, limoncello, lemon ice cream and lemon pies, lemon decorated shop windows, a contest for the largest lemon lemon statue competitions. There are also organised visits to local lemon groves. This is all topped off with a party in the central piazza in the evening with prizes for the best lemon themed window displays.


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Sacred Music Festival

The ancient Tuscan city of Lucca boasts many fine churches within its encircling Renaissance walls. Of these, the church of San Michele in Foro is outstanding, displaying one of the finest facades in this part of Italy. Throughout the spring, the city’s churches come together and present the Sagra Musicale Lucchese, a three-month programme of sacred music that rings out from every street and square.


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Genoa Pesto World Championships

On 29th March Genoa will host the 5th Pesto World Championships, which is apt considering that the world famous sauce was invented in the city. Held in the majestic Palazzo Ducale in central Genoa, the competition has 100 participants, who have to make pesto according to the traditional methods, using authentic ingredients and a pestle and mortar. Anyone can enter from qualified chefs to those who are simply intrigued by this local delight, and it is free to come and watch. For registrations and further information: www.pestochampionship.it


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Processione dei Misteri, Taranto

Renowned for its costumes and solemnity, Taranto’s Procession of the Mysteries starts from the Church of Mount Carmel, where six sacred statues begin a slow, swaying march through the streets, carried by bearers in long hooded robes of either black or white cloth. These represent Taranto’s two confraternities or ‘perdune’, and they are accompanied by a uniformed escort. The procession stops to kneel before the holy sepulchres in tribute to the penitents of old.


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Giro D'Italia 2012

The Giro d’Italia, which celebrated its first hundred years in 2009, dates back to May 13 1909. This year the Giro will start in Naples and will terminate in Brescia on 26th May.


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Mille Miglia

An annual vintage car race between Brescia to Rome and back. The most beautiful vintage cars in the world chosen to participate in the race each year and are selected under rigorous guidelines. This year over 25 countries and over a 1000 car owners have requested participation. This race is as historic as it is unusual, having started all the way back in 1927.


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Sagra di Sant'Efisio

In 1652 a great plague killed half the population of Cagliari. The survivors turned to Saint Efisio for salvation and were spared. Consequently, the people of Sardinia have taken to the capital’s streets each year in the biggest religious procession on the island. Some 5,000 people take part, all dressed in traditional costume. Thirty ox-drawn, wooden wheeled ‘traccas’ lead the way. The horsemen are the most spectacular part of the parade festival, dressed in the colours of their respective district.


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La Cavalcata Sarda (Sardinian Cavalcade)

The famous Cavalcade of Sassari is one of the biggest events in Sardinia, and the highlight of a month of cultural events. There is a parade through the streets on horseback, followed by a costume procession in which each participant wears the traditional dress of their village. Finally, the Cavalcata adjourns to a race track on the edge of town for equestrian races and stunts.


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Genoa Boat Show

For nautical enthusiasts the internationally renowned boatshow that is held in Genoa is an annual institution. For 2013 the International Boatshow is being held in October and offers an opportunity to see the most modern developments in maritime pursuits.


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Procession of Mysteries (Sicilian Easter Tradition)

Taranto has staged a Procession of the Mysteries every Good Friday since ancient times. The Procession of the Mysteries is held in Trapani from 1400 on Good Friday and continues for almost 24 hours until the Saturday. It is the longest religious event in Italy and one of the oldest. During the procession, 20 effigies, depicting different stages of the Passion of Christ (the Sacred Mysteries), are carried through the centre of Trapani.


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Umbria Jazz Winter Festival

The Umbria Jazz Winter Festival delivers five days of music in the historic town of Orvieto. The event kicks off with street parades and continues with a series of knock-out performances. The New Years Eve dinner is the high point of a packed programme, with music and concerts until well after midnight. A New Year’s Day Mass is held in Orvieto Cathedral, to the accompaniment of gospel singers.


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Palio Di Asti

This colourful, oldest of Horse Races in Italy sees 21 participants relive the ancient tradition of the Palio in the wonderfully historic town of Asti (Also famous for it’s sparkling wine). In the days preceding the race, visitors can enjoy a variety of events such as vibrant flea markets, trials of the jockeys on the field and the races of the flag bearers amongst other things.


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Italia Wave

One of Italy’s biggest free multi-cultural festivals, since 1987, The Wave has hosted stars such as Moby, Ben Harper, Nick Cave, Manu Chao, Sonic Youth and Dave Matthews Band. The festival extends beyond music concerts to include events and workshops highlighting Italian film, photography, theatre, animation and literature.


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Olioliva Festival of Olive Oil

The three day festival follows the annual olive oil harvest and focuses on Liguria’s most famous produce. Based in the town of Oneglia, visitors will enjoy the market fair dedicated to different types of oil, which range from sweet to spicy and showcase all the mountain communities involved in making olive oil. There will also be cooking demonstrations, guided walks through Imperia to learn about the history and culture of food in the area from olive oil to pesto and wines.


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No Borders Music Festival

Up by the border with Austria, Tarvisio hosts the No Borders Music Festival, staging a host of international star turns at outdoor and indoor venues. Joss Stone, Incognito, Youssou n’Dour, Billy Cobham and Diana Reeves have performed here in previous years. The ‘No Borders’ tag has as much to do with the varied and international style of the music as it does with the town’s location and bilingual status.


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Puccini Festival

Torre Del Lago plays host to the Puccini Festival which was created in 1930 by none other than Puccini himself. The outdoor theatre where the remains of Puccini lie serves as a gorgeous setting to enjoy the music created by one of the most esteemed artists worldwide. The Operas this year are: Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Boheme amongst others.


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Festa di San Domenico Abate

Cocullo is largely neglected by visitors except for one day in the year – the Festa di San Domenico Abate. On this day, this humble hill town hosts an invasion of film crews, street vendors, snake charmers and curious visitors drawn from all over Italy. It may have had something to do with fertility in ancient times, but the Feast of St Dominic has come to be symbolised over the centuries by snakes. Saint Dominic, the patron saint of Cocullo, allegedly purged the fields of snakes back in the 11th century and in a show of eternal gratitude, the townspeople drape his effigy in a writhing mass of the creatures (non venomous) and carry it through the streets.


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Taormina Arte

A programme of music, drama, film and arts performances is held throughout the summer in Taormina’s well-preserved Greek Theatre. Rebuilt substantially by the Romans, the theatre is perched over the coastline with Mount Etna rising behind. Among the many film screenings, concerts and plays performed there is a programme of modern music.


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The Battaglia Dei Fiori

A parade of flowers that takes place each year in Ventimiglia, accompanied by bands and folk groups. The floats are all covered in over 120,000 flower petals and are three dimensional creations dependent on the year’s theme. During the festival a battle of sort ensues between the public and the floats by a mutual launce of innumerable petals.


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Sagra di San Nicola (Feast of St Nicholas)

The body of the Saint Nicholas (Father Christmas) is said to have arrived in Bari, from Myra in Turkey in 1087. The city now holds an annual celebration in which the saintly statue is taken from its home in the Basilica di San Nicola, carried out to sea and brought back again. Special masses are held as part of the formal celebrations alongside fireworks, historic parades in costume, and concerts.


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Ravenna Festival

Once capital of the Western Roman Empire, the city of Ravenna hosts a summer festival of classical music each year in its many impressive theatres and churches. The Byzantine basilicas, cloisters and piazzas provide superb backdrops that combine art and architecture with music in memorable performances. Founded by Riccardo Muti in 1990, the Ravenna Festival has become one of the most prestigious musical events in Italy. It attracts some of the finest artists, orchestras and opera companies in the world.


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Pesto Championships

100 participants from all over the world will gather in Palazzo Ducale, Genoa to put their skills to the test at Pesto Championships. The challengers must make Genoese pesto sauce, according to the traditional methods, and using the authentic and genuine ingredients and a mortar and pestle. Everyone is welcome to take part.


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Battle of the Bridge (Gioco del Ponte)

Its origins may be lost in the mists of time, but this summer pageant with a cast of thousands is still the most important annual event in Pisa. Armies representing the Mezzogiorno (south of the River Arno) and Tramontana (north of the river) neighbourhoods of the city meet at the Ponte di Mezzo, where the opposing teams demonstrate their physical strength and prowess. No longer do they bludgeon each other with maces and pointed shields (as they did in days of yore), but instead they take turns to push an immense cart weighing several tons, and they are judged by the force of their efforts. Before the “battle” there is a grand procession along the banks of the Arno with hundreds of participants wearing medieval costume, many of them in the Spanish style of the late 16th-century. Approximately 100,000 turn out for the event each year.


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Regatta and Luminaria Di San Ranieri

Each June Pisa honours its patron saint – San Ranieri – with a great regatta and a night-time ‘luminaria’ along both banks of the River Arno. Historic buildings are romantically lit with candles or burning torches – some 50,000 in all – creating a most evocative mood, reflecting softly in the placid waters. The regatta takes place on the evening of 16 June and the illuminations are enhanced by a parade of antique boats with costumed crews. A historical river race takes place on the following day, contested by teams from the four quarters of the city. The luminaria are repeated in the evening, to commemorate the 1688 moving of the ashes of the Saint, the first occasion on which the city was bathed in lights.


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Palio Dei Normanni Di Piazza Armerina

A historic re-enactment of Sicily being conquered by the Normans in 1060. Pluti (The Old Piazza Armerina) is where the most ancient medivial event in Southern Italy takes place every year in the honour of Madonna Maria SS. Delle Vittorie. At the end of the event, all the participants parade through the main streets, victoriously displaying the city flag and its winners.


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