Summertime in Italy is bursting with trips to the beach, relaxing passeggiate, or countless entertaining festivals. Italians live for festivals and love to commemorate any and every special occasion. Festivals in Italy are celebrated for a variety of different reasons such as history, food, or a particular city’s patron. These festivities attract hundreds of spectators, and people flock from all over for any reason to celebrate and enjoy Italian music and good cheer.
As you walk the streets in Italy this summer, keep your eye open for posters about festivals or sagre; you definitely don’t want to miss these events!
Sagra della Granita Siciliana
The sagra of the Sicilian granita is a festival paying homage to this delicious, refreshing dessert. The word sagra means celebration and, like many things Italian, it’s always related to food. At this sagra, which takes place from June 13th to 16th, there will be 20 gelato makers competing and showing off their expertise. During any of these days you can indulge in many different tasty flavors of homemade granita.
The festival’s host town, Acireale, offers many different places to explore, from the Grotte Neviere on top of Mt. Etna to the farmers market which offers delicious, typical regional-foods.
Festa della Madonna Bruna
On July 2nd the city of Matera, in the Basilicata region, will celebrate its patron saint. The day starts at dawn with a procession on the town’s streets, passing by the World Heritage site of the Sassi and stopping at every church and piazza along the way. Sassi is where the main celebration occurs, with live music to honor the Madonna, as well as fireworks.
Mid-day the statue is brought from the Cathedral to the church in the Piccianello district. A huge sculpture of the Madonna and child is escorted by a group of strong men dressed as knights on horseback. The experience of waiting for the statue to arrive is incredible. By six in the evening the statue is on the triumphal papier maché float and decorated with flowers and led by mules to the town center for the final celebration.
During the procession the clergy walks in front to honor the saint, followed by men in velvet cloaks on top of horses covered with paper and flowers. After the cavalcade, the statue is placed in the cathedral and people are allowed to attack the chariot covered in decorations and within seconds it is completely destroyed. Tradition explains that if you are one of the lucky ones to get your hands on a piece of paper you will have good fortune for the rest of the year. The day ends with street parties and a fantastic display of fireworks that will take your breath away.
Medieval Jousting Festival
In the United States every summer there are many Renaissance fairs which are always fun for family outings. Italy also has many local fairs that celebrate the Medieval ages. Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region is where, each summer, a well known Medieval festival takes place. This event was created to honor Sant’Emidio, the protector of the city. The celebration starts with a parade of knights in costume on horses and young children with their batons and flags. Giving their best performance, all the “houses” compete with one another as they also do in the famous Palio in Siena. This spectacle starts from the main square and finishes in the stadium where later during the day men joust against each other.
The jousting commences at eight at night after the wonderful musical performances and splendid costume displays have already occurred. Six knights joust against each other, to show their precision and technique. They attempt to hit the quintain, or target, to show support for their town. After one of the city’s “houses” is finally victorious the real party begins, the members of the winning team of course enjoying themselves the most.
Let us know which Italian festival stole your heart!