Check your schedule, because there are so many festivals, sports and social events and theatre evenings you will not have even a single free day. In Italy you can find art not only in churches or museums, but also in the streets. And that of the Carnival or the Palio di Siena is, indeed, “art in motion”.
Before Lent, Piazza San Marco in Venice turns into a large ballroom. Here you will admire precious period costumes and masks made by skilled local artisans.
In July and August, Piazza del Campo in Siena hosts a battle of local districts: the famous Palio, a horse race dating back to the Middle Ages.
Art is also fashion, with the fashion weeks held in Milan, during which you will see the creations of the best fashion designer on one of the most important European catwalks; art is literature, with the Salone del Libro, held in May in Turin and art is also design with the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, held in Milan.
If you love cars, do not miss Formula Uno and Moto GP races, to hear the roar of the engines on the starting line and see wheels gripping the road even at the most dangerous curves.
For movie lovers there are many interesting festivals that offer you the chance to see movie previews, such as Mostra Internazionale di Arte cinematografica in Venice, Festival del cinema in Salerno and Taormina Film Fest. In July do not miss the parade of movie celebrities at Ischia Global Festival.
If you love Italian music, an Opera theatre is the right place for you, to listen to major compositions by Verdi, Puccini, Rossini and Donizetti. If you had something different in mind, maybe you should watch an Italian musical, such as Notre-Dame de Paris”, with music by Riccardo Cocciante. This show was a great success, not just in Italy, but also in France, Spain, Belgium, Canada and the USA. Another successful musical is “Scugnizzi”, set in Naples, starring artists such as Sal Da Vinci and Piero Pignatelli.
Sanremo, in Liguria, hosts the most important Italian music festival, appreciated all over the world.
Many folk festivals in Italy are organised to celebrate major religious celebrations. On these occasions you can both soothe your soul and sate your appetite. Indeed, after the procession and the Mass, you can taste the best local specialties offered by the different stalls.
The patron saint of Italy is San Francesco, celebrated on 4 October with solemn rites across the country. On 19 September the city of Naples gets ready for celebrations in the hope to witness the miracle of San Gennaro. And, if the blood does not become liquid, local residents wait until 16 December or the Saturday before the first Sunday in May. In Turin, on 24 June, San Giovanni, the patron saint of the city, is celebrated with an exciting fireworks show, while to celebrate San Giacomo, the steps of Santa Maria del Monte in Caltagirone, are decorated with thousands of candles on the nights of 24 and 25 July.
There are also many historical re-enactments, where knights and ladies dressing beautiful costumes parade along the streets.
In Ischia, to celebrate Sant’Anna on 26 July, the six towns of the islands and the town of Procida compete to build allegorical boats. The event takes place between the Aragonese Castle and the Scogli di Sant’Anna. At midnight, the castle is illuminated with lights and fireworks to commemorate the fires and assaults of the Saracen pirates.
Moreover in Ischia, on 26 August, Sant’Alessandro, the great personalities that dominated Ischia, including the Greeks, the Romans, the D’Avalos and Vittoria Colonna families and Ferdinand II of Bourbon, parade along the streets, from the Aragonese Castle.
During the Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics, Venice, Amalfi, Genoa and Pisa compete as they did in the past. This sports event takes place every year in each of the four cities, according to a rotation schedule.
In Italy, both in summer and in winter, the curtain never falls on major theatre events. Sopranos and tenors sing the arias of The Barber of Seville, Nabucco and Rigoletto on the most famous Italian stages. The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and Teatro Massimo in Palermo are the temples of Italian opera.
If you love improvisation and new version of traditional plays, theatre festivals are the ideal places to discover the new faces of performing arts.
The Festival dei Due Mondi held in Spoleto, an Umbrian town in the province of Perugia, is pretty popular. Between June and July, at “Gian Carlo Menotti” theatre, you will have the chance to see both operas and drama performances, while Teatrino delle Sei hosts avant-garde performances and concerts.
The Shakespearean Festival is held every summer in Verona, the Italian city that inspired the Bard, with events and shows held at the beautiful Verona Arena. So, if you love the tragedies and comedies written by the famous English playwright, do not miss it!
Ancient theatres and amphitheatres in Italy also offer interesting live performances, mainly as part of events created to enhance the archaeological sites and monumental areas of Italy. Among the most picturesque locations we find Volterra in Tuscany, Sutri and Cassino in Lazio, Teano and Piedimonte Matese in Campania and Selinunte, Noto e Modica in Sicily.
The Festival Incanti, held in Turin and created by Associazione Culturale Controluce Teatro d’Ombre, is one of the most important puppet theatre events in Europe, with shadow plays and puppet shows.
If you want to get a spot in the front row, one step away from the great champions of the international sports scene, it is advisable to book your ticket right away. Italy has a lot to offer sports enthusiasts, including Serie A and Champions League football matches, cycling and car races.
Juventus, Napoli, Milan, Inter, Roma and Lazio football clubs have the best football players in the world and every Italian Championship match attracts thousands of fans.
During the Giro d’Italia, the national cycling race, cyclists from all over the world compete to get the “maglia rosa”, the pink shirt. The tour starts from one of the major Italian cities and ends, with some exceptions, in Milan, since “La Gazzetta dello Sport”, the national newspaper that organises the event, is based in Milan.
One of the major tennis tournaments, attracting tennis enthusiasts who come here to see world-famous champions, such as Nadal and Andy Murray, is held in Rome, at Foro Italico.
On Formula One circuits, Ferrari is a formidable opponent. The “Rossa di Maranello” and its team have the highest number of World Drivers’ Champions and pole positions. At the Italian Grand Prix drivers compete on the track of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Lombardy, characterised by long straights, driving at a speed exceeding 330 km/h.
In Tuscany the Mugello circuit, with its fifteen curves, is the temple of Moto GP. Here bike lovers can see Valentino Rossi’s exciting sports performances.
The most famous Italian athletes such as, such Federica Pellegrini for swimming, Aldo Montano for fencing and Nadia Centoni for volleyball, work hard to participate in the Olympic Games which are held every four years. Italy, indeed, is the fifth country with the highest number of gold medals won during the Olympic Games of the Modern Era.
Italian music is known and appreciated all over the world, also thanks to Sanremo, Naples and Castrocaro music festivals. Even those who do not speak Italian usually whistle “‘O sole mio” on a sunny day following a storm. But let’s discover together what are the most appreciated Italian songs all over the world.
Domenico Modugno wrote a song that became popular throughout the world. Everyone dreams of flying and singing, and major artists, such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald have sung “Nel blu dipinto di blu” at least once in their career.
“Quando, quando, quando” by Tony Renis was recently reinterpreted by the Canadian singer Michael Bublé.
Pavarotti, with his tenor voice and his sympathy has conquered in a few years both the national and the international audience. Along with Placido Domingo and José Carreras, he has sung many popular songs, such as “Torna a Surriento” and “Core ‘ngrato” during his tours around the world.
Andrea Bocelli can basically sing in all languages. “Con te partirò” was translated into “Time to say goodbye” and turned into a beautiful duet with Sarah Brightman. “The prayer”, interpreted along with Celine Dion, was also a great success.
Italian songs are also pretty popular in Russia, especially those written and interpreted by Toto Cutugno, I Ricchi e Poveri and Albano Carrisi.
We should also mention Laura Pausini, a young and talented singer who made her professional stage debut at the Festival di Sanremo, now known and appreciated also in Mexico, Spain and the United States. “It is my song”, with the participation of James Blunt, is just one of her successful songs.
In 2011, Bob Sinclair produced a modern version of “A far l’amore”, interpreted by the legendary Raffaella Carrà.
But there are many other Italian singers who are known and appreciated abroad, such as Ramazzotti, Tiziano Ferro and Marco Mengoni, as well as Il Volo, a groups of three young tenors.