9 Underrated Festivals and Events in Italy

Participants at the Festa dei Ceri, Gubbio, Italy
Participants at the Festa dei Ceri, Gubbio, Italy | © LongJon / Shutterstock

Hub Writer

We look beyond Carnevale, Palio and the Biennale to bring you Italy’s best under-the-radar festivals and events.

Italy’s most famous festivals, such as the Palio of Siena and the Venice Biennale, get all the attention from tourists. We think it’s time to explore a little further afield and discover the bel paese’s lesser-known and under-appreciated festivals. On your next trip, join the locals at one of these unique events.

Feast of San Gennaro

San Gennaro is the protector and patron saint of Naples and every year on his feast day, September 19, the city celebrates in his honour. A statue of the saint is carried through the streets and the faithful gather in Naples Cathedral, hoping to witness a modern-day miracle. The church holds two vials of San Gennaro’s blood and, after an hour of intense prayer by the congregation, they miraculously liquefy. If the blood stays solid, it is thought to be a bad omen for all of bella Napoli.

Marino Wine Festival

Marino’s Fontana dei Quattro Mori flows with wine during the festival

EuroChocolate

Perugia is famous for its chocolate and every October over one million visitors head to the city for the nine-day EuroChocolate festival. The open-air event takes place in the central streets and piazzas, and features food stands, free tastings and workshops, as well as plenty of opportunities to stock up on your favourite brands. Don’t miss the skilled sculptors, who carve giant blocks of chocolate into edible artworks.

Infiorata di Genzano

A number of infiorate take place across Italy but that of Genzano in Lazio is perhaps the most famous – and the most ancient. The annual flower festival is held on the Catholic holiday of Corpus Christi and sees the streets of Genzano carpeted with elaborate artworks made of petals. After three days of gorgeous floral artistry, local children are given the go-ahead to run amok and destroy the displays. In 2018, the festival celebrated its 240th edition.

Colourful shapes drawn with petals during the Infiorata Festival, Genzano, Italy

Sagra degli Agrumi

The Sagra degli Agrumi marks the end of the citrus season in the town of Muravera in Sardinia and, as you might expect, features all kinds of local delicacies and delicious citrus foodstuffs. More surprising, though, are the grotesque and terrifying furry monsters that rampage through the town. This parade of animal-like creatures is thought to have descended from the pagan rituals once performed by the island’s ancient farming communities.

Pagan costumes at the Citrus Festival in Muravera, Sardinia

Umbria Jazz

Every July, singers, musicians and music-lovers descend on the city of Perugia for the 10-day Umbria Jazz festival. Since the event’s founding in 1973, world-class artists such as Chet Baker, Miles Davis and Dee Dee Bridgewater have played to the crowds. It’s not just names from the world of jazz either; Elton John, Lady Gaga and even Prince have all made appearances too. Concerts take place at piazzas, gardens, pubs and bars across town, as well as at the Arena Santa Giuliana, Teatro del Pavone and Basilica Papale di San Pietro.

Il Gioco del Ponte

Held on the last Saturday of June, the Game of the Bridge takes place on the oldest bridge in Pisa, the Ponte di Mezzo. Teams representing neighbourhoods north of the Arno River compete against teams from neighbourhoods to the south of the river in a tug of war competition across the bridge. The team to win the most battles (by pushing an iron cart over to the opponent’s side) earns the adoration of the crowd and bragging rights for the rest of the year.

Historical parades also form part of the Gioco del Ponte

Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba

Alba’s white truffle fair, held annually throughout October and November, celebrates one of Italy’s most treasured, and decadent, ingredients: the truffle. The Piedmont region is famous for its particular type of white truffle, as well as other delicacies like Barolo wine and meat-stuffed agnolotti pasta, making this the perfect event for foodies. Be sure to bring a full wallet, as one kilo (35 ounces) of tartufi bianchi can cost between €2,500 (£2,217) and €5,000 (£4,435), depending on the year’s harvest.

White truffles from Alba

La Festa dei Ceri

On 15 May each year, the town of Gubbio in Umbria celebrates its patron saint, St Ubaldo, by hosting an unusual type of race. The bizarre spectacle involves the townspeople carrying five-metre (16-foot) wooden ‘candles’ through winding medieval streets to the top of Mount Ingino, which overlooks the town. Though the participants – dressed in yellow, blue or black, depending on their team – run as fast as they can, the starting positions never change and so St Ubaldo’s team always wins.

The Festa dei Ceri draws the crowds in Gubbio, Italy
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article