Summer and Italy, two of my favourite words! Add in a festival or two and you’ve got a trip that is close to perfection! And boy does Italy know how to do a festival! In fact there’s so much to choose from that I’m only going to give the briefest of descriptions here so we can mention as many events as possible! Links to official websites are included wherever possible. And please leave me a comment with any suggestions or additional events that you know about or have visited in the past so this is the most comprehensive list possible! So here we go – here’s what’s on in Italy in July!
2nd July – Festa della Madonna Bruna, Matera, Basilicata
Established in 1389 AD the festa celebrates the Madonna, protector of Matera. Celebrants parade a statue of the Madonna through town from dawn on a papier-mâché cart pulled by mules. And it all concludes on the steps of the city’s cathedral where the cart is destroyed and fireworks set off. Locals welcome visitors to witness their religious procession.
2nd July & 16th August – Siena’s world famous Palio horserace, Tuscany
Twice a year Tuscany’s hilltop city of Siena erupts with the electrifying Palio horserace dating back to medieval days. The city is decorated with multi-coloured flags and lanterns for most of the summer and tribal songs ring out around the city in the run up to the race as contradaioli or citizens taunt each other. You can watch for free from the center of the piazza or buy bleacher tickets if you book well in advance. Just don’t miss this passionate piazza Palio! More info including details of who’s running on 2nd July here.
2nd – 3rd July – Festa della Lavanda, Lavender festival in Tuscania, Lazio
For two days each year this beautiful little town turns lilac as the 20 lavender producers bring their products into the historic centre. The perfume permeates throughout the town and it’s a great place to stop to admire the old Etruscan history too! For more information check out my article on Tuscania for L’Italo-Americano here.
18th June – 3rd July 2016 – The Floating Piers art installation, Lake Iseo
American artist Christo has constructed series of bright yellow walkways across northern Italy’s stunning Lake Iseo near Brescia. Visitors can walk across the pontoons taking in the views of the lake and surrounding countryside. Guided tours are available here or check out the official website here.
Sunday 3rd July – Free entry to over 300 Italian gardens, galleries and museums
For lovers of art, history and gardens this is the perfect scheme – free entry to over 300 state-run galleries, gardens and museums on the first Sunday of every month. FREE!! Venues include the Uffizi in Florence, the Academia in Venice and Rome’s ancient Colosseum. If you’re planning a visit make sure to check out what’s on in Italy in July and which institutions are participating in your destination! More info here.
10th June – 10th July – Euro 2016 Football Tournament
OK so the Euro 2016 football championship is actually in France not Italy but Italians are fanatic football fans so expect to see the Italian flag drapped everywhere! Forza Azzurri! Come on the blues! Italy was drawn in Group E and has already qualified for the knock-out stages. For more information on what’s on in July and the team click here.
24th June – 10th July 2016 – Festival dei due Mondi, Spoleto, Umbria
Combining opera, theatre, art and dance events the festival promises to entertain. Events include Beethoven recitals, a play written by Andrea Camilleri and The Marriage of Figaro opera. The hardest bit will be choosing what to see!
5th – 10th July – Festa Patronale di Santa Domenica, Scorrano, Puglia
Honouring St Domenica, this festival is quite unique. Every year the town of Scorrano is decorated with millions of little coloured lights and buildings are draped in illuminated displays. You won’t see anything else quite like it in Puglia or anywhere else in Italy. Don’t miss it! More info here.
2nd June to 21st July – Lucca Music Festival, Tuscany
The 2016 calendar includes dates from international stars Van Morrison, Anastacia, Simply Red, Lionel Ritchie and half a dozen other artists. All gigs take place at the heart of Lucca in Piazza Napoleone, known locally as Piazza Grande. For more info on what’s on in July and for tickets check online here.
6th – 7th July – L’Ardia di San Costantino, Sardinia
Commemorating the Battle of Milvian Bridge, locals re-enact the battle each year in period dress, mounted on horseback and bearing arms. It’s a memorable event and not to be missed if you’re in the area. More info here.
7th – 17th July 2016 – Festa Medievale, Monteriggioni, Tuscany
Every July during the first and second weekends of the month Monteriggioni celebrates with a medieval festival of banqueting, costumes, music and games. Full details and tickets here.
7th July – 25th August – Milano Arte Musica, Milan
Dedicated to music the festival program includes choral, symphonic and classical music from composers including Handel, Vivaldi and Bach. Check out the program here
8th July to 17th July 2016 – Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia
The Umbria Jazz Festival draws global artists to Perugia with performances taking place throughout the city’s bars, piazzas and palazzi. Check out the world-class lineup and what’s on in July on the festival website.
19th March – 24th July – From Kandinsky to Pollock art exhibition, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence
If you love contemporary art, Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi has a spectacular exhibition this month with paintings from the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice. It includes works by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtennstein and Man Ray to name just a few! More info here.
14th – 15th July – Festa di Santa Rosalia, Palermo, Sicily
Each year Palermo’s faithful offer thanks to their patron saint Rosalia, or La Santuzza (the little saint) as she’s known locally. The streets are illuminated with lights and lanterns whilst a decorated cart is processed through the streets before celebrations culminate in a spectacular fireworks display. More info on the Visit Sicily website here.
15th July to 13th August – Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, Viareggio, Tuscany
Giacomo Puccini composed many of his operas in Torre del Lago, a small Tuscan lakeside town near Florence. Today the town hosts his operas at an open air festival running throughout the summer. What better way to lap up some Tuscan opera! Tickets here.
16th to 17th July 2016 – Venice Redentore
The Redentore Festival is the most important date in the Venetian calendar. It celebrates the city’s escape from the plague with an enormous free fireworks display on the third Saturday in July. A temporary floating bridge also allows the faithful to make a pilgrimage of thanks to the Church of the Redentore on Giudecca. The key to this festival is location, location, location so you have the best view of all the decorated boats and the spectacular fireworks display! The show begins at 11.30pm on Saturday.
19th – 24th July 2016 – Midsummer Jazz Festival, Stresa, Lake Maggiore
The fifth edition of the Midsummer Jazz Concerts runs from 19 to 24 July 2016. The six concerts, which are part of the Stresa Festival, are held mostly along the Lake Maggiore, in the Promenade La Palazzola, an open-air enclosure overlooking the Borromeo Islands but the first two concerts will be in the newly opened Centro Eventi Il Maggiore in Verbena this year. More details of the jazz festival and the wider Stresa Festival which runs through to late August are here.
22nd July – 7th August – Palio dei Colombi, Amelia, Umbria
The Palio die Colombi dates back to 1346 and includes spectacular medieval battle re-enactments, crossbow competitions, a costumed parade and flag bearers. The main event is a horseback contest during which riders from each of the city’s five medieval districts or contradas compete in a game of quintain. The winner releases a caged pigeon or colombo. All very evocative and well worth a visit!
22nd July to 14th August – Sferisterio Opera Festival, Macerata, Le Marche
Macerata’s open air Arena Sferisterio is one of Europe’s premier operatic venues, set in the scenic Le Marche region. This year’s program includes Otello, Norma and Il Trovatore. Encore! Ticket information here.
27th July to 1st August – Mandrea Music Festival, Lake Garda
This is a wonderfully laidback festival devoted to dub and reggae music and the environment. The idea is to exploring your surroundings whilst enjoying some fabulous sounds so bring your boots, mountain bikes and climbing gear as well as your tent! More information on the festival website.
What’s on in Italy in July – events running all month
4th March to 30th August 2016 – San Giacomo Festival, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna
The Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore in Bologna plays host to over 80 concerts covering some of the great composers of classical and choral music. And it is all in aid of a food kitchen run by the Augustinian monks. Check out what’s on in Italy in July and enjoy a spot of music into the bargain!
24th May – 4th September – “War, Capitalism & Liberty”, Banksy exhibition at Palazzo Cipolla, Rome
This exhibition is a rare chance to see some of the secretive artist’s best work 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.
18th March to 31st October 2016 – Ravello Concert Society festival, Amalfi Coast
The Ravello Concert Society Festival is based around Villa Rufolo in Ravello, an illustrious location that inspired composers including Wagner, Toscanini, Caruso and Bernstein. The calendar includes classical, chamber and jazz music, so is guaranteed to delight! Tickets here.
10th June – 27th November – Peggy Guggenheim in Photographs, Ikona Gallery, Venice
Peggy Guggenheim was quite a character! See her here through 20 iconic photographs in her beloved Venice. More info here.
17th June – 21st August 2016 – Into the Labyrinth photographic exhibition, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice
If you love Venice, architecture or photography this is the one for you! Based on his new book Dream of Venice Architecture, Riccardo de Cal brings the hidden architectural gems of Venice to life in his wonderfully atmospheric photos. More information and photographs here!
28th May to 27th November 2016 – Venice Biennale of Art or Architecture
The Biennale runs every year alternating between art and architecture. This year its architecture’s turn under the “Reporting from the Front” title. 64 countries are participating with exhibitions across the city. For more information on what’s on in Italy in July, check out the official website.
22nd June to 10th August – Teatro dell’Opera, Baths of Caracalla, Rome
Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera and the nearby historic terme or baths of Caracalla provide a spectacular backdrop for opera, ballet and pop music this summer with stars including Lang Lang and Neil Young in concert. More ticket information here.
24th June to 28th August – Verona Opera Festival
Verona’s Opera Festival is world famous, attracting the biggest opera stars in the world. If you’re planning a visit to the city of Romeo & Juliet, this is an essential evening out! Full information on the official website.
Sunday 31st July – Mercatone dell’Antiquariato del Naviglio Grande monthly antiques market, Milan
If you prefer vintage to designer fashion or are an aficionado of antiques, make your way out to Milan’s Naviglio canal district on the last Sunday of every month for its wonderful market. It’s heaven for bargain hunters and collectors alike with around 400 stalls laden with all manner of antique goodies! Open from 9am to 6pm. Check out my post & pics here!