Florence, Italy offers visitors a rich array of events and festivals throughout the year that highlight its unique cultural identity and history. HotelTravel.com highlights the key events and festivals in Florence from month to month, providing visitors with a huge choice of possible choice to play that once in a lifetime holiday around. Each one brings to life why Florence is so representative of people from Italy. Click the events and festival links below for further information.
Epiphany Celebrations: is celebrated all across Tuscany. Roman Catholic Epiphany celebrations are held throughout Italy on January 6. Most of the cities in Tuscany will have celebrations in the main squares.
Easter: The big event in Florence for Easter is the Scoppio del Carro, or the "explosion of the cart". This event dates back 300 years. Today, an elaborate wagon built in 1622 and standing two to three stories high is dragged through Florence behind a fleet of white oxen decorated in garlands to the square between the Baptistry and Cathedral.
Carnavale: During the period before Ash Wednesday, many towns stage carnivals and enjoy their last opportunity to indulge before Lent. The popular carnival celebrations held at Viareggio are among the best known in all of Italy, with masked pageants, fireworks, a flower show and parades along the Tuscan Riviera.
May Music Festival: is a series of internationally acclaimed classical music concerts and recitals, opera and ballet in venues across the city.
Palio della Balestra: On the last Sunday in May, the crossbowmen of Sansepolcro travel to Gubbio (Umbria) for the Palio della Balestra, a crossbow contest between the men of Gubbio and Sansepolcro who dress in medieval costume and use antique weapons. On the second Sunday in September, the crossbowmen of Gubbio visit Sansepolcro for a rematch.
Calcio Storico Fiorentino: Fabulous fireworks along the Arno conclude Florence's celebrations to St. John the Baptist, the city's patron saint, on June 24. First, there is a parade in historical costume that starts at the Church of Santa Maria Novella and ends at the Church of Santa Croce, where the Calcio Storico is then played in the dirt-covered square in front of the church.
Luminara, Regatta and Battle of the Bridge: In Pisa on the night of June 16, the Luminara begins the festivities to honour Saint Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa. Over 70,000 candles light up the palaces along the Arno River, with a fireworks display afterwards.
Palio di Siena: On July 2 and August 16, the Palio horse race takes place. It is a colourful, bareback horse race round the Piazza del Campo, Siena's main square. The neighbourhoods compete for the palio, or banner, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The square is filled with costumed pageantry before the race, and massive feasts are set up on long outdoor tables that can stretch for blocks on the medieval side streets.
Pistoia Blues Festival: draws international blues artists who perform in the city's main square. The locals and tourist will be treated to some of the best offerings in blues.
Bravio delle Botti:
The Bravio delle Botti, which takes place on the last Sunday in August, is a barrel rolling race between the eight Contradas (divisions) of Montepulciano competing for a Palio, a painted cloth banner. The barrels (which weigh 80 kilos) have to be rolled up about 1800 meters along the main street of the town of Montepulciano to end in the Piazza Grande. Costume processions precede the competition and a street banquet follows.
Giostra del Saracino: Arezzo's Piazza Grande is the setting of the Giostra del Saracino, or Saracen Tournament. Held twice a year, this tournament commemorates Christian efforts to hold back the tide of Islam in the 14th century.
Visit this website for photographs and further information about Florence Giostra del Saracino.
Display of the Virgin's Girdle: Prato keeps the Virgin Mary's girdle under heavy lock and key year-round in the Duomo, but takes it out five times a year amid much religious pomp and some medieval drum rolling to show it to the crowds massed on the piazza.
Christmas Day: Christmas is the biggest event of the year. Italian families are very tight-knit and this is another time for them to come together to celebrate the festive season and enormous meals are prepared.