In anticipation of the upcoming IAA FESTA ITALIANA on June 10th, we present a short piece on some of the many festivals held in Italy throughout the year!
The Festivals in Italy are revered for their elaborate fanfare and pageantry. Each Festival has its own flair, but most exhibit hundreds of performers, musicians, dancers, singers, scenic displays, magnificent costumes, and astonishing displays of lights. All is combined to make the event not only sensational and ravishing, but to also create a considerable boost to the local economy.
The grandeur and pomp of Italy's own 85 years of Constitutional Monarchy and the influence of other foreign Monarchs who ruled Italy at various times are the sources of influence for the pageantry of costumes and rituals featured in most festivals.
Additionally, the ceremonial life of the Papacy with its lavish processions, costumes and chariots have also swayed other common features of the festivals. There is no denying, the Italian enjoy living life to its fullest and they happily engage in numerous celebrations, especially the Festivals.
The festival is a merrymaking event, and it is celebrated throughout the peninsula. It involves huge parades with highly creative floats displaying paper mâché characters, fancy masks, and brightly colored confetti. Preparations for the Carnival take months. It's a symbolic celebration for both the Pagans and the Christians. For the pagans, it commemorates the transition between the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. For the Christians, it represents a transition between the lavish lifestyle and the simple living of Lent.
Festa della Sensa
The event is held on the weekend after Ascension Day in Venice. The festival is intended to celebrate the relationship Venice has with the Adriatic Sea. Various regattas are held at the Lagoon and the mayor, being the patriarch of the city, throws a golden ring into the sea symbolizing the “Sponsalizio del Mare” or (marriage to the sea). Thousands of tourists attend this rich and cultural event.
Battle Of Oranges
The largest food fight in Europe is at the Battle of Oranges. It is held in Northern Italy, in the city of Ivrea. The festival re-enacts the uprisings of the Italians against one of their cruel rulers. The participants are divided into teams and they hurl oranges at each other by running around on the streets or from battle buses. Over 100,000 tourists are drawn to this event annually.
Game Of The Bridge
The battle is celebrated in the city of Pisa on the last Saturday of June. The participants are from the north and the south of the Arno River. They are dressed in elaborate costumes of the18th-century and they are fully equipped with armor. The festival has two major components, a detailed parade with over 500 participants dressed in colorful costumes and the brute fight at the Ponte di Mezzo. An iron cart is set in the middle of the bridge. The purpose is to push the cart into the rival's territory and take control of the bridge.
It's a festival of millions of spring flowers arranged in an art form to represent elaborate tapestries in monasteries and in the middle portion of streets. The artists first sketch their designs onto the streets with chalk and coffee grounds. Once the sketches are competed, their design is filled with flowers and petals. On the day of the festival, elegant religious processions take place along the sides of the tapestries. The best ones can be observed in Sicily, Lazio, and Umbria. The tradition goes back to the day of the first feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in 1625.
Macerata Opera Festival.
The name derives from the provincial capital of Le Marche, Macerata. It's a famous summer event featuring open-air-operas. It's well attended by people from all over the world. The Festival mostly presents operas of Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Mozart and other famous composers.
La Festa della Repubblica
It is the biggest Festival. The celebration is intended to commemorate the end of the monarchy with Italy officially becoming a Republic. it is celebrated annually on June 2nd with the most extensive celebration taking place in Rome. It is a national holiday and it exhibits grand marching parades, laying of a wreath on the tomb of the unknown, enshrined at L'altare Della Patria, and a fly-over of jets, leaving behind streams of red-white- green, the colors of the Italian flag. The first one was celebrated on June 2nd,1947.
La Quintana Palio
A spectacular medieval event in the region of Le Marche. It begins with The Corteo Storico, an extravagant parade of knights in armor, dames in gowns, flag throwers, musicians and bands of drummers and trumpeters. They dress up in elaborate attires and colorful costumes of the medieval era. Each costume is fully crafted by local tailors showcasing intricate details. The procession lead to the arena of the joust where rivals brutally compete on horses, in athletic flag throwing maneuvers, to capture the Palio drape.
There are literally hundreds of additional Festivals throughout the Peninsula and each is celebrated yearly in accordance to the town's gusto and fanfare, similar to what the Italian Americans do in the US.