Festivals in Italy

The Putignano Carnival is the longest and oldest carnival in Europe. It is the longest because it starts on December 26th with the "Rito della Proppagine" , and it is the oldest because it has now been established that on 26th December, 1394 the mortal remains of St. Steven Protomartyr were transferred from Monopoli to Putignano. The emblem of the Putignano carnival is the mask of Farinella. The name derives from "farinella" ("a povele" in vernacular ) an ancient, but extremely tasty, poor man's dish consisting of ground chick peas and toasted barley  mixed with sauces or eaten with fresh figs. Today Farinella resembles a court jester with his multicoloured costume and bells decorating the points of his hat, his shoes and  his collar. Originally, however, the mask wore a green and white costume, which were traditionally the town's colours, and a three-pointed hat which represented the three hills on which Putignano stands; he was always portrayed in the act of trying to help a dog and a cat make peace, which symbolised the disagreements between the inhabitants of the town.
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Vogalonga Boat Races Venice

Every year in May (24 May +/-), more than 7000 rowers and more than 2000 boats come to Venice to attend a celebration of one of the most beloved rowing events in the city.
The Vogalonga is a non-competitive race that was created in 1974 thanks to the initiative of a group of Venetians, who love the fashion and traditions of Venice. The aim was to raise the awareness, to residents and visitors, regarding the growing problem of waves that threaten the city and its lagoon. That’ s not all, year after year the event allowed a greater diffusion of knowledge and respect for Venice and its lagoon through the love of rowing. Over the years the race has seen a significant increase in the number of participants, especially foreigners, to the point to where 8000 participants have subscribed to race (crew members not boats) - Vogalonga

Ivrea Carnival

Around 17 - 20th February each year

 

The origins of the carnival are lost in the mists of time, but the goings-on in Ivrea's streets during the carnival period have never had much in common with public order. Street clashes in 1745, for example, prompted the authorities to make it compulsory to carry a lantern at night during the carnival period.

The orange fights are held between people on foot, representing the masses, and hooded people standing on wagons drawn by horses in gay trappings, the masters' henchmen. The hail-storm of oranges that falls on the charioteers requires Spartacus-like skill on their part in manoeuvring the two to four horse-drawn carts around the squares; particularly so at the narrow Borghetto.

Battles take place all over town. All the squares have "safe" areas from which the event can be observed. Should you get caught up in the heat of the moment, pick up an orange off the floor and enter the fray. Make sure you give as bad as you get, though: in the spirit of Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite, the carnival is highly democratic and not too selective about its targets.

The main events take place on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday running up to the grand finale on Shrove Tuesday. On the quieter Ash Wednesday, the costumes come off and the whole town gathers in the orange-carpeted piazza where fried polenta and cod are doled out to all and sundry.
For Further information please visit: http://www.carnevalediivrea.it/defaulteng.asp

"1000 Miglia (one thousand miles racing event)

Around 17th to 20th May - repeated each year around this time.

The 1000 Miglia is a famous annual "one thousand miles" racing event that takes place in Italy where drivers must use period cars in one long race around Italy, passing Brescia, Ferrara, and Rome. 375 cars will compete in the 2007 edition built between 1927 and 1957 that belong to Sport, Grand Touring and Touring categories.

The fascination of the original Mille Miglia lives on today in its revival. Piazza Vittoria - Brescia, is an extraordinary sight in the hours leading up to the start – with hundreds of cars, representing much of the history of the car industry, a bubbling, festive atmosphere with enthusiasts from all over the world rubbing shoulders with locals. All this is living proof that this event is still capable of making the heart race. Excitement for the world’s most prestigious travelling museum, still affects the whole world's enthusiasts, to such an extent that 780 valid entry applications from 35 foreign countries were sent to the Organising Committee.

An added feature of this year’s edition is the recently-opened Mille Miglia Museum in Brescia, in the tastefully-renovated Benedictine Monastery, a site steeped in history and memories where that exceptional blend of passions and technology, courage and engines that was mythical Mille Miglia can be experienced first hand.

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La Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare

Around 2 June - repeated each year

 

This historical boat race has been operating since 1956 in celebration of the rich history and influential power of Italy’s ancient maritime republics, Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice.  The event, which attracts both local and tourist spectators invokes the pomp and splendor of these four marine powers and is alternatively held in each of these cities each year. For 2007 it is to be held in Venice’s lagoon.

  

This annual event can be divided up into two parts. Preceding the regatta is a parade that includes 320 figures, 80 representatives from each republic. There is the showcase of magnificent costumes and boats from the mediaeval period that serve to represent famous and well-known historical events in these cites, as well as important personalities throughout time. The four cities present themselves garbed in their traditional colours, with banners carrying their respective animal based symbols: blue and a winged horse for Amalfi, white and the griffin for Genoa, green and St Mark's lion for Venice and red and the eagle for Pisa.  The musical accompaniment of trumpets and drums add to the festive mood and also serve to set in place the atmosphere for the race to come while horses and sedan chairs contribute to add variety and charm to the formal parade. Only after this demonstration of local pride and prestige can the famous race take place.

 

Since the first race held in Pisa, the cup winner’s position has been fiercely competed for by the cities, as each locality is keen to exhibit their symbolic power and success that was gained due to their prosperity acquired through both commercial and military domination within the Mediterranean basin during the Mediaeval period.

 

The event ends with the presentation of the winner’s trophy and gold medals to the crew, which is met with widespread jubilation and celebration.  This is truly an event not to miss.

The Palio Horse Race - Siena

Around 2nd July & 16th August

The famous Palio horse race dates back to 1310 and takes place twice a year: on July 2nd, (to commemorate the miracles of the Madonna of Provenzano) and on August 16th, (to honour the Assumption of the Virgin) in Piazza del Campo. The race consists of bareback riders making three circuits of the main square and it is over in 90 seconds, but it is preceded by five hours of flag-throwing acrobatics. The Palio is the banner, decorated with an image of the Virgin Mary, which is presented to the winner of the race. The 17 "contrade" or suburbs into which the city is divided compete in the race, wearing their traditional costumes and carrying their emblems. Each "contrada" has a name, a banner and a church of its own.

 

The actual festival begins with the traditional, picturesque procession. It consists of a parade, in historical costume, of mace-bearers, trumpeters, bandsmen, grooms, and standard-bearers, in addition to characters representing the ancient rulers of the city; the Captain of the People, the "Podestà", the Banner-bearers, the Chief Magistrate, the "Biccherna" Superintendents and others. During the competition the competitors race around the city's shell-shaped central square at breakneck speed surrounded by cheering supporters.

After the race, the winning contrada marches to the church of Santa Maria in Provenzano (or, in August, to the Cathedral) and subsequently the festivities continue throughout the night in the neighbourhood and through the streets of the main part of the city.

There are two basic options for attending the race: you can stand in the Piazza free of charge. This will give you a great opportunity to mix with the locals. 

The second option is to purchase tickets for the reserved seating and standing areas. By law, most of the numbered seats must be offered to local residents meaning that there is an extremely limited supply. Tickets are sold directly by the shops around Piazza del Campo.

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