Archive for the ‘Festivals in July and August’ Category

Siena Palio – 2nd July and 16 August each year. Our guests and neighbours say this is a difficult Palio to go and see, apparently you have to wait for hours in the baking sun in the central piazza of Siena if you want standing tickets, or the seated tickets reportedly cost a lot of money. The race itself is 90 seconds. We haven’t been so we can’t confirm that but we have been the day after the race and there was a parade in full medieval costume with drums and flags, with the winning horse, its hooves painted golden, taken  through the streets of central Sienna to show to everyone then led into the packed and very silent church of the winning contrada to be blessed. A great ocasion in itself, and Colin Firth was spotted in the crowds watching this, so join the celebrities and go along for the spectacle.

Palio delle Barche, Passignano – held on the last Sunday of July, in 2012 on Sunday 29th July at 18.30. The citizens of Passignano on Lake Trasimeno line the streets to watch their champions compete in a medieval boat race with a difference, the first part is on land. It involves teams of strong men carrying the boats on their shoulders in a fast and hair raising running race through the streets, then launching their boats into the water and rowing around to the beach, with loud cheering from the crowd. Afterwards there is a meal in the square on trestle tables with live music. There are processions in medieval costume and ceremonies before the race too. The evening is finished off with fireworks at midnight over the lake.

Umbrian Jazz Festival – a world class jazz festival attracting big names every year, including in the past Wynton Marsalis (playing for President Obama who was in Italy for the G8 summit),BB King, Chick Korea, James Taylor, and many other well selected lesser known artists as well. In 2012 the dates are 6-15th July. In 2009 we went to one of the free concerts in the main square in Perugia, it was packed out and great music. The website for info is: http://www.umbriajazz.com

Festival of Folklore – Ronzano (the next village towards Fratta). In 2012 this is 27, 28 and 29 July – check posters on the walls in Camucia for the exact details.The main event is a dinner at one of the local farms on trestle tables, with duck and fried rabbit as their speciality, and dancing under the stars afterwards. We turned up on the night to join in but it was absolutely sold out, not a seat to spare and no cancellations. Booking ahead is a must, look out for the posters around Camucia with the booking phone number on it.


The Fondazione Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte di Montepulciano invites young musicians from all over the world to participate in a festival of music held in Montepulciano in July. The chosen students are subsidised by scholarships from the Foundation and a series of concerts are put on in Montepulciano in which the students participate and learn, under well known artistic and musical directors. The quality of the concerts is excellent, held in elegant renaissance palazzi and well worth going. In 2012 the concerts are being held from 19- 29th July and the Royal Northern College of Music is performing. http://www.fondazionecantiere.it/cantiere/programma

Sagra dei Cinghiale – Pergo (a little village below Cortona, it is signposted from the windy road on the way up to Cortona). For the last 30 years Pergo has held a wild boar sagra on their soccer field in this quiet little borgo on the last weekend in July or first weekend in August. In 2012 it is being held on 4th and 5th August. Wild boar is widespread in the wooded hills around Arezzo and Cortona. At the sagra you can sample usually a wild boar stew (the boar is marinated beforehand according to the age of the animal, between 6-18 hours in wine, vinegar, garlic, herbs), and wild boar pasta with wine followed by dancing. Check the Cortona tourist office or look out for the wall and street posters around Camucia for exact dates and times.

Sagra dei Piccione – Montecchio, a village between Il Pino and Cortona, (one of Pagus’s first developments in this area is located there). Every year they have a pigeon sagra which is reported to be very good. Held on the last weekend in July or the first weekend in August. In 2012 it is their 39th sagra and is held on 1-5th August, and there will be an orchestra to play while you dance under the cupola of the stars.

Trasimeno Music Festival – classical concerts held every year for the last 8 years in the Knights of Malta castle in Magione near Lake Trasimeno, which is still owned and run by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and dates back to the 12th century.  In 2012 it was held on 30th June -6July. For details go to: www.trasimenomusicfestival.com

Tuscan Sun Festival – This has moved to Florence in 2012 and is now held in June.

Sagra della Bistecca – Cortona. This excellent beef steak festival is held on the Ferro Agosto weekend. In 2012 the sagra will be 14th – 15th August. It is held in the lovely public gardens overlooking Lake Trasimeno. You buy a ticket at the gate, which gives you a bottle of robust red local wine, an almightily huge Chianina beefsteak done al sangue (pink in the middle – and no, they don’t do well done), local bread and a little dish of beans and a ripe juicy peach for desert which you eat on the trestle tables with local families in the cool of the evening under strings of lights on the trees in the gardens. The barbeque where all the steaks are cooked is enormous – 14 metres square, and they cook several thousand steaks during the sagra, worth seeing just for that. It is getting popular so go and eat english time around 7 or risk standing in the queue for a later supper.

Sagra del pesce (fish festival) – Passignano. We haven’t been but its on every year, this year 2012  it is  23-26  August, local fish are cooked on a giant frying pan which is 4.30 diameter, check with the tourist office for exact dates.

Bravio delle Botti – Montepulciano. The Bravio is a race to push massive 80kg wine barrels up the steep hills of Montepulciano’s streets. Each contrada competes for the honour of their quarter of the city. Specialist athletes “spingitori” are brought in to do the race, as it is extremely difficult and large sums of money are paid for the best. The race is  held every year on the last sunday of August, starting at the Lion Column but there are processions and other celebrations beforehand as well. If you can’t make the race, it is still worth going during the week for the other events.

On the last Thursday in August there is a procession starting at 9.15pm (ish this is Italy afterall) for which all the electric lights, street lights, restaurant lights and signs – everything are extinguished leaving the city in medieval darkness lit only by candles and flaming torches lining the  path of the procession. It is a spectacular sight with renaissance princes and princesses and loads of men in tights with drums finishing with a show in the main piazza of music, traditional flag throwing and fireworks, starting at 10pm. The procession starts at the lowest point of the town and works its way up to the main piazza, a good place to watch is on the flight of steps of the church halfway up the hill, where locals pass around glasses of wine to whoever is sitting next to them.

Every evening from that date onwards the contradas, or city quarters, hold outdoor”pop-up” restaurants which spring up in various locations, under the stars in courtyards or on the terrace of an ancient palazzo, where you can eat their speciality dishes handmade by the nonnas and mammas of the contrada, at trestle tables with a bottle of Vino Nobile  alongside crowds of locals, before the evenings celebrations begin. We went to this last year and had a great evening. The menus for this year are postively gastronomic and  include pasta with chick peas and saltcod, roast pork, steak Fiorentina style.

For more info: http://www.braviodellebotti.com

Sagra del fungo porcino – mushroom festival held in Cortona. It is held around 22nd and 23rd August but its best to check the dates with the tourist office before you go. The mushrooms are imported for this sagra, as its not mushroom season.


Read Full Post »