February in Italy sees several important festivals and events, with Carnevale, Italian carnival or Mardi Gras, topping the list all over Italy. In Catania, Sicily, the big festival is for Saint Agata's Feast Day, the second largest religious procession in the world. Most other February festivals are in the first part of the month, before the start of Lent.
Carnevale — Carnival in Italy
Carnevale is one of the most popular festivals in Italy. Carnevale comes 40 days before Easter, so the date changes each year (and festivals can sometimes start in January) depending on the date of Easter. See Carnevale dates by year. The biggest Carnevale celebrations last for several weeks. Although Venice and Viareggio have the most well-known celebrations, Carnevale is celebrated all over Italy in a variety of ways. Some of the more unusual Carnevale celebrations are the orange-throwing battle in Ivrea, Albanian celebrations in Calabria, and a Roman carnival in the Aosta Valley.
Festa di Sant'Agata — Catania, Sicily
Saint Agatha (Sant'Agata in Italian), a martyr who died in 252 CE at age 15, is the patron saint of Catania, Sicily, and an exciting festival held in her honor in Catania. The two-day procession, said to be the second-largest religious procession in the world, begins February 4. Following a mass at dawn, the statue of Sant'Agata that houses her relics is placed on a fercolo, a 40,000-pound silver carriage, that is pulled up Monte Sangiuliano by 5,000 men. The huge festival lasts for two days and two nights. As with most Italian festivals, there is also plenty of eating and drinking and a huge fireworks display at the end.
Theresa Maggio gives a lively description of the Festa di Sant'Agata in her fascinating book, The Stone Boudoir: Travels through the Hidden Villages of Sicily.
Saint Biagio Day
February 3 is a minor celebration everywhere in Italy. Saint Biagio is the saint of the throat. It's a tradition to eat leftover panettone with a glass of wine to bless your throat. In some places, Saint Biagio Day is celebrated with parades, music, a special mass, or bonfires. In Mugnano di Napoli, near Naples, there's a massive fireworks display as its the home of one of the biggest fireworks companies in Italy.
Almond Blossom Fair
The Almond Blossom Festival (Festa del Fiore del Mandorlo) in Agrigento, Sicily, is a weeklong festival from the first through the second Sunday in February. The fair is combined with an International Folklore Festival with music, singing, parades, puppet shows, and open-air performances. Traditional Sicilian sweets made with almonds and almond paste are served. Balconies are decorated with flowers, and people often wear colorful costumes. The finale includes a Sicilian cart parade and fireworks.
Valentine's Day, February 14, is not celebrated as fanatically as it is in the United States, but lovers do give lots of flowers and candy. The Umbrian town of Terni, which claims Saint Valentino as its patron saint, celebrates with a torchlight parade.
Saint Faustino's Day
Saint Faustino's Day, February 15, commemorates the saint adopted by single people in Italy. If you see a sign for a San Faustino party, it's most likely a party for singles. San Faustino is actually the patron saint of Brescia.
San Remo Song Festival
Held in San Remo, the San Remo Song Festival, Festival della canzone Italiana in Sanremo, is a huge five-night competition amongst Italian singers. Started in 1950, the San Remo Song Festival has made many Italian singers and songs famous.