September is a great time to visit Italy, as temperatures start to cool down just a little bit, and summer crowds dissipate as Italians return from their vacations. What's more, there are many festivals, special events, and food-oriented festivities happening all over the country in September. Here are some of our favorites.
Venice's historic boat race takes place the first Sunday in September with four race categories—children, women, men in six-oar boats, and the champions racing in boats with two oars. The races are preceded by a parade.
This star-studded event takes place in early September. Films premiere on Lido island, but the whole of Venice is abuzz during the festival.
Friendly rival cities Milan and Torino host a variety of musical performances during the month of September.
Palio di San Rocco (Figline Valdarno, Tuscany)
Held in Figline Valdarno, about 30 kilometers southeast of Florence, the Palio di San Rocco is said to be one of the first palio competitions in Tuscany. The palio includes five days of medieval competitions with jousting, archery, and a horse race during the first week of September.
Macchina di Santa Rosa (Viterbo)
This big festival in Viterbo, north of Rome, is held on September 3rd. A historic procession takes place the day before, with participants wearing costumes from the 13th to 18th centuries. The Macchina is a lighted tower about 30 meters tall, topped by a statue of Satna Maria Rosa, Viterbo's patron saint. More than 100 porters carry it on their shoulders (it weighs nearly five tons) through the streets of the city.
Saint Vito Day (Ciminna, Sicily)
Saint Vito is celebrated the first Sunday of September in the Sicilian town of Ciminna in the Palermo province. There's a huge parade recalling the life of Saint Vito with people in period costumes. A livestock fair also coincides with the celebrations.
Festival of the Madonna of the Sick (Misterbianco, Sicily)
La Festa della Madonna degli Ammalati, or the Festival of the Madonna of the Sick is celebrated the first weekend of September in Sicilian town of Misterbianco. The festival commemorates the miracle of the sanctuary being saved from destruction during Mt. Etna's eruption in 1669. Festivities run for five days starting Thursday evening.
Rievocazione Storica (Cordovado, Friuli-Venezia)
Cordovado, in the Friuli-Venezia region, recreates a noble wedding from 1571 the first Sunday in September. Festivities include a procession followed by an archery competition and tournaments where the districts of the town compete. The town of Cormons in the same region also has a Renaissance pageant and parade the first Sunday of September.
Corsa Degli Asini (Fagagna, Fruili-Venezia Giulia)
A historic donkey race in the Fruili-Venezia Guilia town of Fagagna takes place the first Sunday in September. Teams from four regional hamlets compete.
Feast of Rificolona (Florence)
This is believed to be one of the oldest festivals in Florence. You'll find outdoor festivities September 6th and 7th (see Florence in September). You may also find the Feast of Rificolona celebrated in other parts of Tuscany on September 7th.
Festival of the Madonna a Mare (Patti, Sicily)
The Festival of the Madonna of the Sea is celebrated the second Sunday of September in Sicily in the village of Patti, Mesina province. The golden Madonna statue is carried to the sea in a procession, then put on an illuminated boat to lead a boat procession. Dancing, music, food, and wine follow.
Juliet's Birthday (Verona)
One half of Shakespeare's most tragic teenaged couple is celebrated September 12th in Verona. The day will be filled with parades, dances, and street entertainment.
Luminara di Santa Croce (Lucca)
The Illuminations of the Holy Cross is a beautiful procession in Lucca, Tuscany, on September 13. The city is illuminated with thousands of candles at night as the procession goes through Lucca's historic center.
The festival of the patron saint of Naples celebrates the miracle of the liquefying of San Gennaro's blood in Naples Cathedral on September 19th, followed by eight days of processions and celebrations. If you're in the U.S., you'll find big San Gennaro festivals in New York and Los Angeles.
Palio di Asti (Asti)
This bareback horse race dates back to the 13th century and is held in the Piemonte town of Asti. The race is preceded by a parade with participants in period costume, and special events are also held on the days leading up to the actual event, usually the third Sunday of September.
Feast of Saint Cipriano and Saint Cornelio (Dorgali, Sardinia)
The patron saints of the Sardinian town of Dorgali are celebrated for eight days, with traditional dancing and costume parades starting the middle of September to commemorate the coming of autumn.
Similar to Venice's historic regatta, this one takes place off the island of Burano, near Venice, the third weekend of September.
Italy's favorite monk is celebrated with a torchlight procession and religious ceremonies September 23rd in San Giovanni Rotondo in Puglia (see Puglia map). Hundreds of stalls sell religious items, and there are celebrations for several days.
Saint Greca Festival (Decimomannu, Sardinia)
The Santa Greca Festival is held the last Sunday in September in the Sardinian town of Decimomannu near Cagliari. It lasts five days with parades, lots of food, and poetry and dialect competitions.