Finally the month of May seems to be hotting up, and so too is the calendar of events. The first half of the month saw 23 events taking place across the peninsula (see Part 1) and the second half looks set to be just as entertaining with a dozen more fabulously colourful events. So whether you like to get out into the countryside, celebrate ancient tradition or are licking your lips for the food and wine festivals to come, we have the something for everyone. If your bags are packed and you’ve got your Euros, let’s take a look at what’s on in Italy in May – part 2!
4th March – 25th September – San Giacomo Classical Music Festival, Church of San Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna
Set in the church of San Giacomo Maggiore, dating from 1344, in the city centre of Bologna. Concerts take place every week from the beginning of March through to the end of September each year, with a varied selection of classical and choral music. Proceeds are used to fund a canteen for the homeless run by the church. More details of the calendar are available on the church website here.
13th – 15th May 2016 – European food festival in Lecco, Lake Como
The sixth edition of the festival kicks off this weekend in the Cermenati Square, Lecco and along the banks of Lake Como. Traders from 10 different European countries will be there with food and products to enjoy. And obviously Italian cuisine will be well represented with traders from the regions including Lombardy, Piedmont, Sicily and Puglia. Opens 12pm on Friday 13th, 9am-Midnight on Saturday and 9am-8pm on Sunday.
13th – 22nd May – Festa di prosciutto, Montagnana, Veneto
With prosciutto producers, bakeries, cheese, pasta and a bar, this sounds like heaven on earth for foodies! Set in an enormous 1400 m2 pavillion over 10 days, it will be a great treat for prosciutto lovers. And there will also be guided tours of Montagnana so make sure to make a beeline if you’re in the area this month. Open from 7pm to midnight each day. Details here.
17th – 20th May – L’Amerigo Vespucci tall ship docks, Venice
L’Amerigo Vespucci is an 85 year old Italian navy tall ship, named after one of the first explorers to land in America. Its based in La Spezia near the iconic Cinque Terre coastline and is used as a training ship. This month, after a recent refurbishment, it sets sail to visit some of Italy’s main ports, arriving in Venice’s St Mark’s Basin on May 17th. The ship will be open to the public whilst in port, hosting exhibitions and cultural events before moving on to Trieste.
20th – 22nd May – Mostra Mercato di Florovivaismo Specializzato in Todi, Umbria
Todi in bloom is a traditional event dedicated to floral and plant producers. For three days the Piazza del Popolo of Todi and surrounding porticoes will host the flowers of local producers. This year’s theme is Biodiversity. More info here.
21st – 22nd May 2016 – Concorso d’Eleganza vintage cars motor show, Villa d’Este, Lake Como
The Concorso d’Eleganza at Lake Como’s lakeside Grand Hotel Villa d’Este is one of the leading events celebrating vintage cars built between the 1920s and the 1980s. The event was first held in 1929 and since then has attracted thousands of petrol heads and vintage car admirers down the years, not least because of its stunning setting. It’s a great day out if you like beautiful things on four wheels. More information here.
22nd May 2016 (3rd Sunday) – La Ciammaichella parade, Bucchianico, Abruzzo
If you like colour and tradition, this is the one for you! The event commemorates Saint Urbano, who was the Bishop of Rome, one of the first Popes of the Catholic Church and a Christian martyr in the early 3rd century AD. Around 4pm eleven decorated wagons and over 1000 costumed participants set off from the sports field to process through town into the centre. The parade is headed by a group of men carrying an image of St Urbano leading hundreds of costumed women carrying multi-coloured flower baskets on their heads. The flowers themselves are made of paper and will have taken months to make with women starting preparation for the parade back in January each year. And the procession culminates in Piazza Roma in the centre of town. Details here.
22nd May 2016 (and 14th August) – Balestro del Girifalco, archery competition, Massa Marittima, Tuscany
The Balestro del Girifalco is a twice-yearly archery competition held on the fourth Sunday of May and the 14th August just before Ferragosto or August bank holiday. The festival dates back to the 12th century and pits the 24 archers from 3 different sectors of the city against each other in a medieval archery competition for a symbolic golden arrow. These days the costumed procession, archery and medieval pageant constitute one of the largest festivals in southern Tuscany. So expect plenty of flag waving sbandieratori, drummers, arrowmen and general Medieval festivities centred around the beautiful Piazzo del Duomo.
24th May – 4th September – “War, Capitalism & Liberty”, Banksy exhibition at Palazzo Cipolla, Rome
Banksy, a British graffiti artist is known around the world by name but his face has never been seen. This exhibition is a rare chance to see some of the artist’s thought-provoking work all together and one not to be missed if you like street art. For more information check out my post Banksy Street art : a new exhibition in Rome, the gallery website or exhibition website. Enjoy!
25th – 29th May – International Horse Show, Piazza di Siena, Villa Borghese, Rome
The International Horse Show in Piazza di Siena is a Roman equestrian competition held annually since 1922 in the grounds of Villa Borghese, north of the city centre. Its part of the international horse jumping circuit and attracts top riders from around the world. If my Italian is correct, entrance is free if you just want to sit on the grass slopes, but you need a ticket for the benches or VIP area. If I’ve got that wrong please leave me a comment with the correct details so I can correct this! Grazie!!
28th – 29th May 2016 – Cantine Aperte, open cellars, nationwide
Open cellars is one of the most important and largest wine events in Italy. Members of the Movimento Turismo del Vino, wine tourist board, throw open their doors to the wine-loving public on the last Sunday of May offering the unique chance to taste some wonderful, smaller Italian wines. Check out the website for details of participating wineries and special events.
28th – 29th May 2016 – Festival del Formaggio Ubriacato, San Pietro di Feletto, Veneto
This year kicks off the first festival of the drunken or intoxicated cheese in San Pietro di Feletto in the Veneto region. There’ll be tasting tables, workshops and plenty of artisanal drunken cheese, including award-winning cheeses (and personal favourites) from the Latteria Perenzin. And the event, sponsored by the Accademia Internazionale dell’Arte Casearia, is also part of the events celebrating Conegliano-Valdobbiadene as European Capital of Wine Culture 2016. More information and directions on their Facebook page here.
28th May to 27th November 2016 – Venice Biennale of Architecture
The Venice Biennale runs every year with the focus alternating between art and architecture. This year its architecture’s turn with the exhibition entitled “Reporting from the Front”. 64 countries are participating with expositions at a variety of sites across the city including the Biennale Garden pavilions, Arsenale dockyard and various historic palazzi. For more information, check out the official website.
29th May 2016 (Last Sunday) – Festa del Narciso, The Daffodil Festival, Rocca di Mezzo in Abruzzo
Local legend has it that this festival dates back to 1947 when a group of youngsters decided that the area needed cheering up with daffodils after World War II. The flower grows wild in the area so was the obvious bright, cheerful flower. The festival has grown over the years from a simple parade to something akin to carnival with folk dancing and huge decorated floats, inspired by the daffodil and stories from local history. And today it can attract around 10,000 visitors kicking off around 3.30pm on the Sunday afternoon. There’s even some suggestion that it then led on to the Parade of the Roses in Pasadena California when locals emigrated to the US. Details here.
29th April – Mercatone dell’Antiquariato del Naviglio Grande monthly antiques market, Milan
Milan is famous the world over for its designer fashion houses and haute-couture, but if you’re a vintage chick check out the monthly antiques market down by the Naviglio canal. Its a perfect spot to spend a Sunday morning rummaging through over 400 stalls laden with collectibles, antiques and all manner of vintage treasures including books, paintings, nic-nacs and furniture. And if you need a break, why not pop into the Mercato Metropolitano food market at one end of the antiques market for hand made pasta, pizza and all manner of foodie goodies!. Its open till late and a perfect spot for tasty refreshments after a busy morning of shopping!
What’s On In Italy in May
With over 35 events across just 4 weeks May is unquestionably the busiest month so far this year – at least there is absolutely no danger of being bored!! If you know of any events I’ve missed for May, please leave me a comment so I can add it in. And in the meantime don’t forget to subscribe to DreamDiscoverItalia (above right) to get updates straight to your email inbox or join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest so you don’t miss out on what’s coming up. Buon viaggio, happy travels!