In September, Italians return from their vacations and many festivals take place the first Sunday of the month as summer comes to an end. You'll still find small food festivals throughout Italy during the month of September. Look for brightly-colored posters for a festa or sagra, where you can usually sample inexpensive regional food along with the locals.
Venice Film Festival - Venice's popular film festival is in early September.
MITO International Music Festival - Milan and Torino host a variety of musical performances during the month of September. MITO SettembreMusica
Palio di San Rocco in Figline Valdarno, about 30 kilometers southeast of Florence, is said to be one of the first palio competitions (definition of palio) in Tuscany. The palio includes five days of medieval competitions with jousting, archery, and a horse race during the first week of September.
Regatta Storica - Venice's historic boat race takes place the first Sunday in September with four race categories - children, women, men in 6 oar boats, and the champions racing in boats with 2 oars. The races are preceded by a parade. Regatta Storica
Macchina di Santa Rosa is a big festival in Viterbo, north of Rome held on September 3. A historic procession takes place the day before with participants wearing costumes from the 13th to 18th century.
The Macchina is a lighted tower about 30 meters tall topped by a statue of Santa Maria Rosa, the patron saint. More than 100 porters carry it on their shoulders (it weighs nearly 5 tons) through the streets of the town.
Saint Vito Day 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 is also celebrated the first weekend of September in Sicily in the 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 5 days starting Thursday evening. More about the festival from Italy Magazine.
Rievocazione Storica - 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 - 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 is believed to be one of the oldest festivals in Florence. You'll find outdoor festivities September 6 and 7 (see Florence in September). You may also find the Feast of Rificolona celebrated in other parts of Tuscany September 7.
Festival of the Madonna a Mare, 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 (of Romeo and Juliet) is celebrated September 12 in Verona. The day will be filled with parades, dances, and street entertainment.
Luminara di Santa Croce, 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.
Festival for the Feast Day of San Gennaro, patron saint of Naples, celebrates the miracle of the liquefying of San Gennaro's blood in Naples Cathedral on September 19, followed by eight days of processions and celebrations.
If you're in the US, you'll find big San Gennaro festivals in New York and Los Angeles.
Palio di Asti is a bareback horse race for the palio that dates back to the 13th century, 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, the Patron Saints of the Sardinian town of Dorgali, is celebrated for 8 days with traditional dancing and costume parades, starting the middle of September to commemorate the coming of autumn.
Burano Regatta - Similar to Venice's historic regatta, this one takes place off the island of Burano, near Venice, the third weekend of September.
Commemoration of Padre Pio is celebrated with a torchlight procession and religious ceremonies September 23 in San Giovanni Rotondo in Puglia (see Puglia map). Hundreds of stalls sell religious items and there are celebrations for several days around September 23. Read more about Padre Pio Shrine and San Giovanni Rotondo
Saint Greca Festival, is the last Sunday in September in the Sardinian town of Decimomannu near Cagliari. Festivities, lasting 5 days, include parades in costume, lots of food, and poetry and dialect competitions.
Feast Day of San Michele on September 29 is a popular saint's day celebrated many places in Italy. The most important celebration of San Michele or Saint Michael is at the Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael on the Gargano Promontory of Puglia.