Italy is a very old and famous country with powerful history, culture, art, traditions, music and architecture. Various cultures from many invaders are combined over the years. It is always considered as one of culturally rich country. Every year, thousands of tourists from all over the world visit the country. Their cuisine and festivals are always very special and attract all. Many well known civilizations glorified the place.This is a birthplace for many famous writers, musicians, artists, philosophers etc. Renaissance was started here to drive away the dark era. In ancient time, the Roman Empire was one of the most powerful and very influential for a long time. There are 54 World Heritage Sites situated in the country. It is the fifth most visited country in the world. There festivals are also related to their traditions and history. To know them better, visiting their marvelous and crazy festivals can be an easy way and the vacation will be unforgettable.
Venice Carnival (February 8 –25)
In Italy,carnevale or the carnival is celebrated in every city. But the carnival of Venice is the most talked about, and the most visited festival. People from all over the world come to join the annual celebration. Normally it stars from second week of February and ends in first week of March. Dates can be varied. It ends forty days before Easter. From history it is found that in 1162 the people of Venice celebrated the victory of the Venice Republic against Patriarch of Aquileia by gathering in San Marco Square. Then it became official during The Renaissance period. The carnival became a prestigious image of Venice in the 17th century. The event was to enjoy the fullest and forget any anguish. During 1797, the Emperor of Austria, Francis 2 stopped the festival and banned using any masks. Finally with decision of Italian government, the carnival was brought back in 1979. One of the main attractive and important parts of Venice carnival is using masks. Mask makers are honored and have their own guild in Venice. The masks are made from porcelain, leather or original glass technique. The reason behind wearing masks in the carnival is connected with the ancient social norm. At that time there were rigid class hierarchies in Venice. People had to dress up according to their class. Though in carnival they could wear anything but they used to cover their face with masks. Different types of masks are made to worn. Bauta, Columbina, Medico Della Peste, Moretta, Volto, Pantalone, Arlecchino and Zanni are the few names of different types of masks. Some are very expensive and artistic. Cheap masks are also available in local markets. People wander around the city with costumes and masks. Piazza San Marco is the main center for events but every corner of the city becomes vibrant and colorful. Gondola, boat paraded, mask parade, children carnevale are arranged. Spectacular fireworks are held in Piazza San Marco. Viareggio in Tuscany coast also hosts a very grand carnevale celebration. Giant satirical floats inspired from recent events and politics are made for the parade. The final parade is on Saturday night and ends with fireworks. In many places and in hotels cultural events, concerts and mask balls are arranged to enjoy. You have to book the tickets for mask balls. Restaurants arranged special menu for the carnevale.In the island of Sardinia people celebrate more traditionally. There are costume parades, horse races and medieval inspired tournament called La Sartigilia. People in Acireale celebrate it with music, chess tournament, processions with floats,children game, flower and finally fireworks. People in Pont St. Martin celebrate it in Roman style wearing nymph and togas costumes. The chariot race and burning of a devil’s effigy on the old bridge are few interesting events. Cento and Verona are the other places known for hosting stunning carnevale.
Battle of the Oranges (February-March)
Like the tomato throwing festival in Spain, the Battle of oranges is the biggest food fight event in Italy. It is held in the northern Italian City, Ivrea. Normally it is arranged in the month of February, end of the winter. The battle is held in the last week of February or in first week of March. Here, people are divided into nine groups and gather in designated streets in their battle attire. Nine groups are from nine tribes and each has their own tradition and history. If you want to take part you may contact a tribe a month in advance. If you don’t want to fight you have to wear red hats. There are few rules; not to throw oranges to the horses, not to throw to the wrong tribe and not to the red-hatted persons. Almost 500,000 kg oranges are used in the battle. The battle continues for three days and ends before Ash Wednesday. The event starts on Sunday at 2pm and ends on Mardi Gras. Each team tries to kill the other team by throwing oranges. The team that wins the battle is awarded with orangey medal. Men, women and children all take part in this food war. There is an old tale that an evil tyrant named Marquis tried to rape a young woman on her wedding day. But he could not succeed. The woman killed him with a sword and the local people burnt his palace. Each year they arrange this event in remembrance of the incident. In ancient time beans were thrown to fight, and then they started to use apples. In 19th century oranges are used which are imported from Sicily. A young woman is chosen to play that part every year.She wears a dress in red and white and throws yellow flowers to the fans. The orange battle is to recreate the fight between the commoners and Marquis’s team. The masked villains are on the wagon dragged by horses and the commoners throw oranges furiously to the wagon. The event is ended with a funeral on Fat Tuesday.Any outsiders or tourists who want to take part have to pay a small fee. Be careful because the battle can be very serious. Many people injure with cuts and bruises. You have to cover your head with hat, helmet or other wrap to be safe. Waterproof shoes and cloths will be very helpful to avoid orange juices. You can even choose to watch it from a certain distance. Musicians and folk groups will be there to give you pleasant time. You can enjoy the local food from the stall and restaurants. On the third day the roads are cleaned and there is a parade and a bonfire to end the event. This is a very unique and unusual event in Europe. To stay in the city you have book your hotel room early. You can also come from a different city by local transport.
Arena De Verona Opera Festival (June 21 – September 7)
This is a summer festival arranged in the city of Verona dedicated for opera lovers. It starts on the last week of June and ends in August.The performances are arranged in the 2000 years old Roman amphitheatre named Arena De Verona.In ancient time it was a place for the gladiator fight in front of the audience. Now, this is one of the fantastic places for outdoor opera in the whole world because of excellent acoustics. The cheapest ticket costs 22 euro. For the best seats you have to pay more than 180 euro. You can book tickets online. You can dress casually but for high priced tickets you need to dress elegantly. Normally a show is lasted for four hours. About 30000 spectators can watch the performance. The first opera was held on13thAugust in 1913 with a performance of Aida to mark the death of the centenary of Giuseppe Verdi. Till now, it is the most performed opera in Verona. A permanent organization was built in 1936. In 2013, the first 100 years of opera festival was celebrated. Singers, artists, director and designers keep no stone unturned to make the event spectacular. Normally the opera starts at 9pm.Performers from all over the world come here to perform. Dance, concert, ballet and traditional music everything is there to make the festival wonderful. Lavish stages are created with stunning elements to create a dreamy environment. 3-D stages add more enthusiasm. The whole place is lit with candles. Large screens are placed there to understand the lyrics both in English and Italian. The passionate, tragic and soul touching performances will definitely make you crave for more. Some world famous performer such as Maria Callas, Beniamino Gigli graced the stage many times. One thing to keep in mind, if you want to takephotosthen turn off the flash.
To make sure, that really nothing stands in your way to your next trip to Italy, go and visit the German website Backpackertrail to find useful information about Italy such as must sees for travelers and recommended accommodation.
List of other major festivals
- January – Fair of Sant’Orso
- February – Carnevale, Battle of the Oranges
- March –Carnevale, St. Patrick Day, Easter, Rome Marathon
- April –Scoppio del Carro,
- May – Marriage of the Sea, Snake Handlers’ Procession, Lei Corsa dei Ceri
- June – Game of Bridge, Calcio Storico, Infiorata, Arena De Verona Opera Festival
- July –Festa Della Madonna Bruna, Umbria Jazz Festival
- August – Palio di Siena
- September– Film Festival, Regatta, Feast of San Gennaro
- October – Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba
- November – Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, All Saint Day
- December – Christmas, Oh Bej! Oh Bej!, Saint Stephen’s Day