Summer is festival season in Italy, so if you visit the country between June and September, chances are you'll run across a festival or two. Look for posters announcing a festa or sagra as you travel around Italy, even in smaller villages. Many Italian towns have outdoor music concerts beginning in June, too. Here are some of the June highlights.
Italy's Festa della Repubblica, or Republic Day, on June 2 is a national holiday celebrated throughout the country. The biggest festival is in Rome, with a huge parade and a spectacular fly-over by the Italian Air Force.
The Feast of Corpus Christi or Corpus Domini, 60 days after Easter, is elaborately celebrated in many parts of Italy. Here are some particularly good places to go for Corpus Domini festivals.
- In Rome, an outdoor evening mass is celebrated at San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome's cathedral followed by a procession led by the Pope from there to Santa Maria Maggiore.
- Orvieto has a costumed procession with more than 400 people and streets are decorated with banners and flowers.
- Castelrotto in the Trentino-Alto Adige region has a big festival.
- Infiorata, spectacular flower petal art displays, are held in many Italian towns the Sunday after Corpus Domini.
Tuscan Sun Festival
The Tuscan Sun Festival, a top summer arts festival that gathers well-known artists and musicians for a week of music, art, cuisine, wine, and wellness (previously in Cortona) is now held in Florence in June. The program also includes cooking demonstrations, art exhibitions, and pre-concert receptions with locally made products and Tuscan wines. See Tuscan Sun Festival for schedules and ticket information.
Luminara of Saint Ranieri
Luminara of Saint Ranieri is celebrated June 16 in Pisa, the eve of the feast day of Saint Ranieri, Pisa's patron saint. The Arno River, buildings lining the river, and bridges are illuminated with the flames of over 70,000 lumini, small glass candle holders.
The Historic Regatta of Saint Ranieri is the next day, June 17th. Four boats, one from each of Pisa's districts, row against the Arno River's current. When a boat arrives at the finish line, one man climbs up a 25-foot rope to reach the victory flag.
Il Gioco del Ponte
Il Gioco del Ponte, Game of the Bridge, is held the last Sunday in June in Pisa. In this contest between the north and south sides of the Arno River, the two teams try to push a huge cart into the opposing side's territory to claim possession of the bridge. Before the battle, there's a huge parade on each side of the river with participants in period costume.
San Giovanni or Saint John Feast Day, June 24
The feast day of San Giovanni Battista is celebrated with events in many parts of Italy.
- Sagra di San Giovanni is the oldest historic event on Lake Como. Hundreds of tiny lamps float in the lake and there's a big fireworks display the evening. The following morning brings a boat parade with traditional boats decorated with flowers followed by folk dancing and flag throwing competitions. Events are held the weekend closest to Saint John's Day.
- San Giovanni Feast Day is celebrated in Florence the Sunday following June 24 with a medieval tournament followed by music, drinking, and feasting. In the evening on the Arno River, there is a palio of rowboats carrying lit candles followed by fireworks.
- Palio di San Giovanni is a four-day event in Fabriano, in central Italy's Marche region, culminating on June 24 with a beautiful infiorata, tapestries made of flower petals. Events include traditional medieval competitions with participants dressed in period costume, flag throwing performances, and crafts and food stands.
Festival of Two Worlds, is one of Italy's most famous performing arts festivals, attended by some of the world's top artists. It features concerts, operas, ballets, films, and art from late June through mid-July. The festival was first started in 1958 by composer Gian Carlo Menotti with the intention of bringing together the old and new worlds of Europe and America. It's in Spoleto in central Italy's Umbria region.
Based on the original article by Martha Bakerjian