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The distinctly American tradition, created by Pilgrims to commemorate a bountiful harvest in the New World, is not usually celebrated in Italy. Newcomers to Italy may find it hard to find the ingredients needed to prepare a typical thanksgiving meal. However, the ancient Romans also had a harvest festival called Cerelia, which honored Ceres, the goddess of corn ( to which the word cereal is etymologically related). The festival, which included music, parades, games and sports, was held each year on October 4th and offerings of the first fruits of the harvest were offered to Ceres.



Special Events, Opera, Festivals in Italy

Thanksgiving in Italy
December - January

Christmas In Italy
Italians have a lot of Christmas traditions, recipes and rites. Many cities also have a beautiful Christmas market. Read more about Christmas in Italy and Christmas markets in Italy.

New Year in Italy
Italians bring in the New Year with music, dancing and fireworks. Celebrations may vary from one region to another.

Umbria Jazz Winter Festival in Orvieto, annually in December - January
Winter version of the Umbria Jazz festival of Perugia in Summer.

Umbria Gospel Festival takes place in the theaters and churches of the mediaval towns around Lake Trasimeno from December 8 through the beginning of January. It is one of Italy's most important Gospel festivals.

See also: December in Italy.


Carnevale (Carnival) Festival in Italy
Carnevale is a large festival held before Ash Wednesday, Celebrated 40 days before Easter. The biggest celebrations are held in Venice, Viareggio and the orange-throwing battle in Ivrea. Traditionally, partygoers at the Venice Carnival wear masks. The Venice Carnival Festival is considered one of the largest festivals in Europe.

Valentine's Day, February 14
Valentine's Day is celebrated in Italy like in many other European countries, while singles have their San Faustino day. See: Italy in February

Festival di San Remo
See: Italy in February

March - April

Easter In Italy (Pasqua)
Italy holds many ceremonies during the Easter holiday. Many ceremonies are conducted by churches.

Scoppio del Carro
The Scoppio del Carro ("Explosion of the Cart") is a folk tradition of Florence, Italy. On Easter Sunday, a cart, pulled by an ox and packed full of fireworks and other pyrotechnics goes through to city streets up to the Duomo. The fireworks are ignited from the cart and provide a historic spectacle in the civic life of the city.


Sagra di San Nicola, Bari, May 7th.
A historic costume procession

Sagra di Sant' Efisio, Cagliari, May 1st
Claimed to be one of the largest and most colorful religious processions in the world. Every year since 1656 on the first of May the Sardinian people, wearing their traditional costumes, take the statue of their Saint in procession to thank him for ridding Cagliari of the plague. The colorful procession includes pilgrims dressed in costumes from the 1600s with accompanying horses, carts and a statue of the saint on foot.

June, July - August

Spoleto Festival
An annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July in Spoleto, featuring a vast array of concerts, opera, dance, drama, visual arts and roundtable discussions on science.

Estate Romana (Roman Summer)
The Estate Romana is coordinated by the city of Rome, and combines an interesting mix of events, from jazz, rock and classical music to film, sport, theatre and children's entertainment. Around 150 events are organized in parks, courtyards, squares, art galleries and around Roman monuments. The event takes place from the end of June until August or during Roman Summer. Overlooking the Tiber River on Gianicolo Hill in Trastevere there are late-night open-air screenings of popular films that are projected on massive screens in Vittorio Emmanuele Square.There is a summer season of open air entertainment organized by the Rome Opera House, including music, ballet, opera, drama and more.

Festa della Madonna Bruna in Matera, Italy, July 2
One of the most interesting festivals held in southern Italy on the second of July. The centuries-old feast of the Madonna della Bruna  , Patron of the city of Matera, begins with the procession "of the shepherds". Then the statue is carried in procession on a float (carro trionfale or triumphal chariot) all afternoon, along the main streets of Matera. In the evening the procession reaches the Cathedral Square, where "three turns" are performed, to symbolise the taking of the city by the Holy Patron. The festival's highlight comes when a Carro, made of papier maché, carrying the Madonna is destroyed. The festivity ends in the late evening with the din of the fireworks contest , which creates a unique scenario above the ancient quarters of the Sassi, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia
The Umbria Jazz Festival is one of the most important jazz festivals in the world and has been held annually since 1973, in Perugia, usually in July.

The Palio di Siena, held twice, on July 2 and August 16
The Palio di Siena (known locally as il Palio) is a famous festival and horse race, in which ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen Contrade, or city wards.

The Palio held on July 2 is named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano, who has a church in Siena. The Palio held on August 16 is named Palio dell'Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary.

Festa del Redentore, Venice, second week in July
The Festa del Redentore is an event held in Venice on the third Saturday and Sunday in July. Traditionally the Redentore used to give thanks for the end of the terrible plague of 1576, which killed 50,000 people. The architect Antonio Palladio built the Church of the Redeemer as a remembrance of the occasion.

On Saturday, the eve of the festival, fireworks are let off.

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your independent guide to Italy and the Italian way of life
(Eyewitness Travel Guides)
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More information:
Frommer's Italy 2011(Frommer's Complete)
by Darwin Porter (Author), Danforth Prince (Author)
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