Category Archives: Events in Italy

The Processione dei Serpari Continues a Centuries-Old Tradition

We debated whether to write about this festival, the annual Processione Dei Serpari in the small mountain town of Cocullo in Abruzzo, because it is so easy in our day and age to cast the 300-years-plus tradition in sarcastic tones as some travel bloggers and writers have done. But we decided to honor the festival for what it is, an authentic custom that is undertaken with respect and dignity, as this short YouTube video so clearly demonstrates. The Processione dei Serpari, or Festival of the Snakes, is held the first Thursday of May each year to honor Cocullo’s patron saint. Saint Domenico was thought to protect Cocullo’s inhabitants from snakebites and toothaches. The festival unfolds thus: After an early morning Mass, villagers ring a small bell to protect themselves from toothache for the following year. There is a blessing of local soil, which will later be spread in local fields. […]

75th Festival del Maggio Musicale Celebrates Culture, and Travel, in Florence

One of the world’s great cultural festivals kicks off next week in Florence, Italy: the 75th Festival del Maggio Musicale. Since 1933, this annual festival has brought together many of Europe’s finest musicians, dancers and conductors for weeks — yes weeks — of shows and concerts. Many of the shows take place in the Teatro Comunale, also known as the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and pictured above, and the Teatro Goldoni. This year is especially appealing to us because its theme is travel, specifically, The Journey, From Middle Europe to South America, in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, the great navigator who explored South America over five centuries ago. He was from Florence, and this is the 500th anniversary of his death. Highlights include Richard Strauss’ opera Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Zubin Mehta, an Honorary Life Conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra. A contemporary opera, commissioned by the festival, will […]

Milan Design Week Showcases More Than Furniture

We love good design, especially good Italian design. Even though we are the first to admit that in excess, too much talk about design can start to feel a tad too much, even pretentious. That doesn’t stop us from clicking around the Milan Design Week 2013’s official website, wondering what the annual event will bring. It also doesn’t stop us from suggesting to anyone and everyone who can get to it, to give it a whirl. The event, the world’s leading furniture exhibition, is one that looks forward and back, and crystallizes the international design gestalt, often for years to come. Here’s the lowdown for the Milan Design Week 2013. The dates: The full Salone is from Tuesday April 9 to Sunday 14 April 2013, and is open to the public on Saturday April 13 and Sunday April 14 (The other days are for the trade only.) The 2013 slogan […]

Easter Traditions in Italy Highlight Family, Food and Festivities

Easter traditions in Italy are many and varied, and begin the week leading up to Easter. All around Italy this week, families are preparing regional specialty dishes for holiday feasting while cities, towns and parishes are getting ready for Good Friday, Easter Sunday and an Italian tradition known as “Little Easter,” or Pasquetta. The Monday after Easter is a national holiday, too, a time for families and friends to unwind after the intensity of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Like so many things Italian, Easter traditions in Italy vary from region to region and from city to city. One of our favorite Easter traditions is the Scoppio del Carro, or exploding basket, that is practiced in Florence. A decorated wagon is pulled through the city by white oxen who, as the above photograph captures, are decorated with flowers. The processional takes them to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, […]

Pisan New Years 2012 Makes Celebrating New Year Twice As Nice

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Tuscany the third week in March, make sure you try to get to the city of Pisa for Pisan New Years 2012 celebrations on March 25. That’s right, New Year’s. Pisa, home of the world famous leaning tower and amazing art, food and culture, celebrates New Year’s twice, the first time with the rest of the world on January 1, with New Year’s Eve celebrations, too, and the second time, to commemorate a local calendar that put New Year’s Day on March 25. Of course, the second New Year’s has its own New Year’s Eve merrymaking on March 24. Why March 25? According to the Gregorian calendar, in use for over 500 years, between 1200 and 1749, the first day of the year fell nine months before Christmas. Then the calendar shifted to the one we use today. But Pisa wanted to […]

Vinitaly 2012 Showcases Wine and the Beautiful City of Verona

Vinitaly 2012, one of the world’s most important wine exhibitions, takes place next weekend in Verona, Italy. The wine exhibition showcases hundreds of international wines, drawing thousands of visitors and wine professionals. If you are in or near Verona, or know someone who is, you might want to snag a ticket; as best as we can tell, they’re still available. The event starts Saturday March 24 and runs through the following Wednesday. The weekend is a mix of tastings, lectures and presentations. As noted, it’s tailored to folks in the wine business, but if you’re a wine aficionado, it might be fun to give it a try. On Saturday evening, there’s a tasting of 100 of Italy’s best wines, selected by the esteemed U.S. magazine, Wine Spectator. A few — just a few! — highlights over the next several days include a selection by Italy’s “Doctor Wine,” Daniele Cernilli, a […]

Open Monument Weekend 2013 Celebrates Italy’s Cultural Heritage

Last year on a Tripadvisor forum, we noticed a thread about Italy’s 20th Annual Open Monument Weekend, which prompted us to take a closer look at this outstanding annual event. Open Monument Weekend 2013 takes place the weekend of March 23 – 24 and marks twenty one years of sharing and exploring the cultural excellence of Italy. For those of you who have not heard of this wonderful annual event, Italy has for the past two decades opened up some of its historic private buildings and monuments to the public at no charge, so Italian citizens and visitors alike can appreciate the country’s cultural heritage. The event takes place over a single weekend, so you have to be organized if you want to take advantage of this opportunity. This year, nearly 670 sites around Italy will be open. Unfortunately, information for Open Monument Weekend 2012 in English has been scant. […]

Valentines Day in Italy 2013 and Beyond

Sometimes we forget that Valentines Day is actually St. Valentine’s Day. Did you know St. Valentine was Italian? We remember that as we contemplate Valentine’s Day in Italy 2013. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts on the tradition of Valentines Day in Italy, how and where it is celebrated: Who was St. Valentine? Apparently, there might actually have been more than one! According to the Roman Catholic Church’s Martyrology, the official list of recognized saints, there are no less than seven recognized St. Valentines. The one associated with Valentine’s Day was a Roman priest. For some diehard St. Valentine sightseeing, perhaps not the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day in Italy, but an interesting piece of information for future reference, St. Valentine’s skull is on display at the Basilica of Santa Maria Cosmedin in Rome. How do Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day in Italy? Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day in […]

The Battle of the Oranges 2013: Italy’s Biggest Food Fight

Get ready for the Battle of the Oranges 2013! Italy’s largest food fight is a colorful, messy, historic, entertaining festival that takes in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday in the medieval town of Ivrea in the Piedmont region, in February each year. (This is the headquarters of Olivetti, the typewriter manufacturer.) What exactly happens during the Battle of the Oranges? It’s actually quite structured, organized chaos if you will. Nine teams, some representing rebels and others representing authority figures, throw oranges at each other with violent ferocity. The history of the Battle of the Oranges is rather racy and violent and is also loaded with class and gender symbolism. Legend has it that the festival goes back as far as the 12th or 13th century and commemorates the rebellion of a fair commoner, a miller’s daughter, who decapitated a local tyrant after he attempted to rape her on […]

Venice Carnival 2013, It’s That Magical Time Of Year!

Venice Carnival 2013 is only months away! The annual celebration of Venice’s theatrical roots kicks off on January 26th and runs through February 12th. This year’s exhilarating lineup includes parades, walking tours, exhibitions, contests and of course the internationally famous masked balls. Absolute highlight of the Carnival in 2013 will be the Best Masked Costume Contest, judged over a period of several days amongst the color and excitement of the masked Balls at Gran Teatro of San Marco. Judging begins on the Thursday of the festival, with the winner to be announced on the Sunday. If you are lucky enough to be in Italy during Venice Carnival, you should aim to attend the three main masked balls, considered to be the Best of the event. These featured Balls are Il Ballo del Doge, the masked ball in Palazzo Pisani and the Tiepolo Ball. Tickets for these high profile feature events […]