Besides places of incredible beauty, Italy also means traditions of centuries preserved to this day. From north to south and from east to west, almost every Italian city, town or village has a holiday dedicated to a certain saint, which is celebrated every year with lots of joy and enthusiasm.
In addition to religious feasts, in Italy we also find many profane holidays, because Italians always knew how to have fun, and always invented opportunities to do so.
If you want to discover the most beautiful Italian festivals, all you have to do is go through the list below. And if you desire an authentic experience on Italian soil, choose one of these traditional holidays, buy a plane ticket and go!
10. FESTA DI SANT’AGATA – February 3-5, 2022, Catania
Saint Agatha is celebrated in Catania twice a year – the feast held in February commemorates the martyrdom of the Saint, while the Summer Feast of Saint Agatha, held on 17 August, celebrates the return of her remains to Catania, after 86 years in which the relics were kept in Constantinople.
In February, around one million people come from all over Sicily to attend the feast, which is comparable with the Holy Week in Seville, Spain, or the Feast of Corpus Domini in Cuzco, Peru. For three days, the city forgets about everyday things to focus on the celebration, a mixture of devotion and folklore.
9. FESTA DI SANTA ROSALIA – July 10-15, 2022, Palermo
The feast is dedicated to Saint Rosalia, also called La Santuzza (Little Saint) or Rusulia (in Sicilian dialect), the patron saint of Palermo, and it commemorates the miraculous appearances of the Saint from 1624, when the city was hit by plague.
Every year, the festival lasts six days, with the first three days being reserved for the preparation of the great procession held on the evening of July 14th. The 2022 edition will be the 398 edition of the festival.
8. SCOPPIO DEL CARRO – April 17, 2022, Florence
On the morning of Easter Sunday, the brindellone, a pyrotechnical tower positioned on a cart, is pulled by oxen on the streets of Florence, escorted by 150 soldiers, musicians and people dressed in 15th century period costumes. After it reaches Piazza del Duomo, the cart is positioned between the Baptistery of Saint John and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
At 11.00 am, the archbishop lights a dove-shaped rocket from the altar of the cathedral, which, through a cord mechanism, runs through the central nave of the church and reaches the cart outside, causing it to explode. The fireworks display that follows lasts about 20 minutes.
7. CALENDIMAGGIO – May 4-7, 2022, Assisi
Calendimaggio 2022 will take place between 4 and 7 May, 2022, in Assisi. Traditionally, the festival is held each year in the first Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday after the 1st of May, to greet the arrival of spring.
On this occasion, the town is divided in two parts – Nobilissima Parte de Sopra (Noble Upper Part) and Magnifica Parte de Sotto (Magnificent Lower Part). The parts challenge each other for the conquest of the Palio, through parades in medieval costumes, reenactment of medieval life and musical performances.
A jury, composed of internationally renowned experts (a historian, a musicologist and an entertainment personality), choose the winner of each edition.
6. FESTA DELLA MADONNA DELLA BRUNA – July 2, 2022, Matera
Festa della Madonna della Bruna 2022 will take place on July 2, 2022, in Matera. The religious feast is held every year since 1389, in honor of the patron saint of the city, Madonna della Bruna. The 2022 edition will be the 632 edition of the festival.
The feast begins on July 2, at 5.00 am, with a Holy Mass held in Piazza San Francesco D’Assisi, followed by the Procession of the Shepherds. Later, the statue of the Madonna is carried in procession from the Cathedral of Matera to the Parish of Piccianello. In the afternoon, the chariot with the statue of Maria Santissima della Bruna returns to the Cathedral, and the statue is placed inside the church.
Once the religious part of the feast is over, the pagan custom begins. The chariot is taken to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, where it is destroyed by the crowd. The feast ends at night with a fireworks display which illuminates the Gravina and the beautiful Sassi of Matera.
5. GIOCO DEL PONTE – June 25, 2022, Pisa
The Pisan June (Giugno Pisano) is a series of events which take place during the month of June, in Pisa, in honor of the patron saint of the city, San Ranieri (Saint Rainerius).
The Battle of the Bridge is held on the beautiful Ponte di Mezzo, between two teams dressed in elaborate 16th century costumes – one representing Mezzogiorno, the districts of Pisa south of the Arno river, and the other representing Tramontana, the districts north of the river.
4. INFIORATA DI NOTO – May 13-15, 2022, Noto
Infiorata di Noto is part of the Baroque Spring (Primavera Barocca), a series of events including concerts, craft exibitions and the Baroque Procession (Corteo Barocco), consisting of people in period costumes, flag-wavers and musicians, who parade through the streets of the historical center of the town.
After the preparations of May 13 and 14, the actual contest will take place on Sunday, May 15, with locals and tourists alike waiting their turn to admire the wonderful mosaic of petals, until late in the evening.
3. FESTA DEL REDENTORE – July 16-17, 2022, Venice
Every year since the 16th century, the feast is celebrated in the third weekend of July. At first, Festa del Redentore was a purely religious event, but over the centuries profane elements were added to the religious manifestations.
On the first day of the feast, a great party is held, completed in the evening by a spectacular fireworks display. The second day of the feast, Sunday, is reserved for religious service and for the Regata del Redentore (Regatta of the Redeemer), a race of typical Venetian boats.
2. PALIO DI SIENA – July 2 & August 16, 2022, Siena
Palio di Siena is a horse race held twice a year in Siena. In 2022, Palio di Provenzano, dedicated to the Madonna of Provenzano, will take place on July 2, 2022, and Palio dell’Assunta, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, will be held on August 16, 2022.
Palio di Siena is practically an equestrian competition between the 17 contrade (districts) of the city, held in the beautiful Piazza del Campo. Only 10 contrade out of a total of 17 will participate in the race, and the actual race consists in circling three times Piazza del Campo.
The race is preceded by Corteo Storico (Historical Procession), a historical parade which includes about 700 participants representing the 17 contrade and the institutions of the ancient Republic of Siena. The procession starts in the afternoon from Piazza del Duomo and, after parading on the streets of the historical center of the town, arrives on the beautiful shell-shaped square Piazza del Campo.
1. CARNIVAL OF VENICE – February 12-March 1, 2022, Venice
In 2022, the most important festival in Italy will be, undoubtedly, the Carnival of Venice. The Venice Carnival 2022 will take place between February 12 and March 1, 2022, in the beautiful city of Venice.
Traditionally, the most important days of the Venetian Carnival are Fat Thursday and Shrove Tuesday, but the greatest influx of tourists is certainly recorded during the weekends of the festival. In 2022, Fat Thursday falls on February 24, and Shrove Tuesday on March 1.
After the 2021 edition of the Carnival took place online, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that in 2022 the festival will return to its pre-pandemic glory, and we will be able to admire the wonderful masks and costumes worn by thousands of people coming from all over the world parading once again through the narrow streets of Venice.