March Festivals and Holiday Events in Italy

Rome marathon
 Franco Origlia/Getty Images

March is a great month to visit Italy. Springtime weather starts to take hold in most of the country, and there are fun and interesting events taking place in all corners of the nation. Note that unless Easter falls in March, there are no legal holidays this month, but there are still plenty of festivals and events. Many local festivities occur around March 21 for the beginning of spring.

Country-Wide Festivals & Events

  • Carnevale: Depending on the date of Easter, Italy's Carnival or Mardi Gras, occasionally falls in early March.
  • Festa della Donna, or International Women's Day, is celebrated March 8 all over Italy. On this day, men bring flowers, usually yellow Mimosa, to the women in their lives. Restaurants have special Festa della Donna meals and there are often small local festivals or concerts. Groups of women frequently have dinner together that evening, and some museums and sites offer free or reduced admission for women.
  • Saint Patrick's Day is March 17. Although not widely celebrated in Italy there are a few festivals and Irish pubs with Saint Patrick's Day parties.
  • Feast Day of San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph, Mary's husband), March 19, is also known as Father's Day in Italy. The day, which used to be a national holiday, is traditionally celebrated with bonfires and sometimes pageants with scenes from the life of Saint Joseph. Children give gifts to their fathers on San Giuseppe Day. Zeppole are traditionally eaten on Saint Joseph's Day.
  • Easter sometimes falls in late March with events during the week leading up to Easter Sunday. 
  • Festa della Primavera, a spring festival, is held many places in Italy on March 21. Often the festival is centered around a regional food. Spring festivals are sometimes held to coincide with Saint Joseph's Day on March 19, too. Giornate FAI is held the first weekend of spring with sites throughout Italy open for viewing that are not normally open to the public.

    Events in Rome

    • Commemoration of Caesar's Death is held March 15, the Ides of March, in Rome. Cultural events are usually held in the Roman Forum near the statue of Caesar and a re-enactment of Caesar's death is held at the site of his assassination in the Torre Argentina archaeological site.
    • Rome Marathon, held the third Sunday in March, is a 42km run through the streets of Rome. Starting at the Roman Forum, the course passes some of Rome's most famous sites and the Vatican before ending at the Colosseum. Runners from all over the world participate. More than 30,000 casual runners participate in a shorter run that ends earlier. The city streets in Rome's historic center are closed to traffic for the event.

    Local Events

    • Mandorla in Fiore: All things almonds are celebrated at this delightful spring festival in the Agrigento region of Sicily. The name literally means "almonds in bloom," and the festival includes culinary, artistic and cultural aspects. It's usually held the first part of March.
    • Palio dei Somari, a donkey race between neighborhoods, takes place in Torrita di Siena (a medieval village near Siena in Tuscany), on Saint Joseph's Day, March 19. The festival also includes a colorful historic parade.