Summer is a fabulous time to be in Italy & enjoy Italian summer festivals. Blue skies, warm seas, al fresco dining and enough gelato to last a lifetime! Add in some of the most popular historic festivals in Europe and you have the ingredients for a perfect trip. And whether your passion is opera, history, architecture or religion there is something special for you. So here are just some of our favorite summer festivals in Italy for your delight!
March 18 – October 31: Ravello Concert Festival, Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast, south of Naples, is one of Italy’s most picturesque venues and home to the Ravello Concert Society. The festival is based around Villa Rufolo in Ravello, an illustrious location that inspired many composers including Wagner, Toscanini, Caruso and Bernstein. And the calendar is equally varied with performances from classical, chamber and jazz musicians, so this is a festival that’s guaranteed to delight. Why not ask our travel experts to extend your Amalfi visit with concert tickets.
May 28 – November 27: Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale runs every year with the focus alternating between art and architecture. This year its architecture’s turn with the exhibition entitled “Reporting from the Front”. 64 countries are participating with expositions at a variety of sites across the city including the Biennale Garden pavilions, Arsenale dockyard and various historic palazzi. For more information, check out the official website.
June 2 – July 21: Lucca Music Festival
Running throughout July, with a couple of June dates, the Lucca Summer Festival is one of Tuscany’s main music events of the season. The 2016 calendar includes dates from international stars Van Morrison, Anastacia, Simply Red, Lionel Ritchie and half a dozen other artists. All gigs take place right in the centre of town in Piazza Napoleone, known locally as Piazza Grande, so once you’ve explored this wonderful walled city, why not take in a concert under a sultry Tuscan sunset. Tickets are available online via the official website or at local box offices.
June 10 – June 19: Taormina Film & Tango Festivals, Sicily
This year sees the first Taormina Tango Festival (16th to 19th June) in conjunction with the well-established Taormina Film Festival. Focusing on the Argentinian tango, dancers will take to the streets and squares of the town to entertain visitors whilst the film festival plays host to numerous international films. More information will be available soon through the film festival and local Tourist Board websites.
June 22 – August 10: Teatro dell’Opera, Baths of Caracalla, Rome
Rome’s Opera Theatre is another prestigious host of summer festivals in Italy with a series of concerts at the historic terme or baths of Caracalla. The ancient Roman baths provide a spectacular backdrop for the open-air opera, ballet and pop music with big names Lang Lang and Neil Young providing some of the entertainment. Our travel experts can help you to your seats for a range of artists, guaranteeing a historic evening under the Roman stars.
June 24 – August 28: Verona Opera Festival
Verona’s Opera Festival is world famous, attracting some of the best tenors and sopranos around. Its home, the breath-taking Roman arena, is one of Europe’s most prestigious archaeological monuments. Together they host the world’s largest opera theater, with seating for 14,000, entertaining over 700,000 spectators each season! If you’re planning a visit to the city of love, a ticket for the opera is an essential addition, listening to arias where gladiators once fought. But book early as this is one festival that always sells out – our travel experts are on standby!
July 2: Festa della Madonna Bruna, Matera, Basilicata
Another of the unforgettable summer festivals in Italy is the Festa della Madonna Bruna in Matera, southern Italy. Established in 1389 AD the festa celebrates the Madonna, protector of Matera. Celebrants rise at dawn to parade a painting and statue of the Madonna through town on a papier-mâché cart pulled by mules. Events climax when the handmade cart is destroyed in front of the city’s cathedral before spectacular fireworks light up the night sky. It’s a festa for the locals but tourists are welcome to watch the processions and witness the dramatic demolition of the carriage.
July 2 & August 16: Siena’s world famous Palio horse race, Tuscany
Twice a year Siena erupts with the thrilling Palio horse race dating back to medieval days. Preparations run from early May with costumed parades every Sunday. Flags and lanterns hang from every building and rivals taunt each other with sarcastic songs as the anticipation builds. On the day, 10 districts compete against each other. Their race horses gallop 3 times around the central Piazza del Campo and the winner is the first horse over the line, with or without its rider. You can watch for free from the center of the piazza or buy bleacher tickets if you book well in advance. Just don’t miss this passionate piazza Palio!
July 8 – July 17: Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia
The Umbria Jazz Festival is internationally respected drawing artists from all over the world. Performances take place across the city, from piazzas to palaces and gardens to wine bars as Perugia transforms into a global music village. It’s a great chance to check out the region’s historic hilltop capital to a soundtrack of the best jazz around. And with a regional airport just 12 km away this is one to add to your wish list! Check out the lineup on the festival website.
July 15 – August 13: Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, Viareggio, Tuscany
Opera composer Giacomo Puccini composed many of his operas in a villa in Torre del Lago, a small lakeside town about an hour from Florence. Today the town is home to an outdoor theater where his operas are regularly performed throughout the summer. What better opportunity to breath in the Tuscan atmosphere that inspired operas such as Madame Butterfly and La Boheme. Our travel experts are waiting in the wings to book your tickets for this evocative experience.
July 16 – July 17: Venice Redentore
Venice’s Redentore Festival is the largest and most important event in the Venetian calendar. It celebrates the city’s escape from the the plague and is held on the third weekend of July. Preparations kick off with a temporary floating bridge to the Church of the Redentore on Giudecca where pilgrims give thanks. But the main magical event, drawing thousands, is the enormous firework display. Decorated barges, boats and gondolas laden with revellers crowd St Mark’s Basin. And savvy locals bag key canal side spots setting up festive dinners to await the light show. Just find yourself a watery vantage point and wait for the free firework show to begin at 11.30pm on Saturday! Perfetto!
July 22 – August 14: Sferisterio Opera Festival, Macerata, Le Marche
Macerata’s Arena Sferisterio was originally built as a sports stadium but when the popularity of handball waned, opera stepped in and today the open air arena is one of Europe’s premier operatic venues. Set in the scenic countryside of the central region of Le Marche, the festival plays host to opera fans throughout the summer with this year’s offerings including Otello, Norma and Il Trovatore. If you’re travelling through Italy, why not take a detour to this delightful festival – our travel team will be only too happy to book you in!
July 27 – August 1: Mandrea Music Festival, Lake Garda
More musical festivities kick off in the Alpine foothills above Lake Garda this summer with the Mandrea Music Festival. But instead of opera or the classics, this is a wonderfully laid back festival devoted to dub and reggae. And this festival is as much about exploring your surroundings as it is about taking in some fabulous sounds so bring your hiking boots, mountain bikes and climbing gear to make a truly outdoors week of it! More information on the festival website.
August 8 – August 20: Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro, Le Marche
Back to opera and the works of Gioachino Rossini. The Pesaro opera festival in his name plays both well-known and forgotten pieces from his back catalogue with many scores having been lost for decades before being restored and revived in Pesaro. If Rossini is your passion, Pesaro on the Adriatic coast of Italy’s central Le Marche region should be on your wish list this summer.
August 31 – September 10: Venice Film Festival
If you’re a film buff or fan of the red carpet, Venice Film Festival is just the ticket. And whether you want a selfie with a superstar or to watch a world premier screening Venice has everything a film fan could desire. The line-up will be announced at the end of July with tickets going on sale in August but with past attendees including Jake Gyllenhaal, Al Pacino and Sandra Bullock this is bound to be the hottest ticket in town! Watch the official website for updates.
Book early for the summer festivals in Italy!
Italy’s summer season is jam-packed with festivals and our favorites are just the tip of the iceberg. The warm weather means many are al fresco so you can enjoy a classical music concert in the cool evening air of the Amalfi or Tuscany. And many are free too; so don’t miss the chance to explore the summer festivals in Italy. If you have any favorites that we’ve missed, leave us a comment to let us know. In the meantime, don’t forget to ask our travel team to check out what’s on when you’re in Italy next and keep an eye on our blog for more inspiration! Buon viaggio!