Festival and events in Italy this summer

Festival and events in Italy this summer

Alongside the country’s perennial favourites, Italy is world-renowned for a spectacular festival season over the summer months. We take a look at some of the highlights from the busy summer schedule of various Italian towns and cities.


Florence kicks off its summer festival season with one of the more unusual festivals – Festa del Grillo (the Cricket Festival). It’s a mix of food, music and entertainment – and of course, crickets. The tradition lies in the notion that gifting crickets to loved ones symbolises good wishes – although now artificial crickets have replaced their live counterparts.

On a slightly less unusual note, the city also has an annual outdoor cinema season running from late June to early September, and a dance festival throughout the most of July.

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Twice every year — in July and August — Siena runs the Palio horse race. Ten horses and riders, dressed in the appropriate colours represent ten of the seventeen city wards. A pageant — the Corteo Storico —precedes the race, and the parade of flag wavers in medieval costumes attracts visitors from around the world.

Palio di Siena 2008 (2)

The race encompasses three laps of the Piazza del Campo, and its common for jockeys to be thrown from their horses as they navigate the tricky turns in the piazza.

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It wouldn’t be right to mention Venice without mentioning the Art Biennale, which runs from May to November every other year. Founded in 1893, the international art exhibition showcases a selection of modern art from artists around the world — this year’s exhibit is curated by Christine Macel.

In early June, Venice also hosts the Vogalonga Regatta — a 30km rowing race through the city’s canals. In recent years, the event has attracted over 5,000 participants, making it an exhilarating and entertaining race to watch.


Verona has hosted a summer opera festival since 1913, performed in the Arena di Verona — an ancient Roman amphitheatre — to around thirty thousand spectators.

20110719 Verona Arena Opera Aida 2970

Performances traditionally begin at dusk, with the crowd bringing small candles to be lit as darkness falls and the performances begin. This year’s performances include Aida, Madama Butterfly and Tosca.

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Please note: The information above is provided as a guide only, and all festival dates are subject to change. Please double check the dates if you are booking your holiday around a specific event.