Ciao Bella! Welcome to the beautiful and wonderfully romantic country of Italy, where you can dine on fabulous food, gaze at magnificent architecture, soak up stunning coastlines and learn ancient history. We’re currently amidst festival season, so let’s check out how the Italians do it. From orange throwing to as much ice cream as you can eat, here is our pick of the very best Italian festivals and boy is it a feast for the senses!
Here are the top 3 festivals in Italy…
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea 25 – 28 Feb, 2017
You may have heard of tomato throwing in Spain but orange throwing in Italy? This is a whole different ball (fruit throwing) game! There’s something quite satisfying about chucking 500,000kg of oranges at people, well at least that’s what 4,000 people think and another 10,000 watch in the little northern town of Ivrea. This juicy battle takes place over three days, the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
The throwing begins at 2pm on the Sunday and ends on Mardi Gras when the winning teams are awarded their orangey medals. Legend says it stems from a historic fight between the local townsfolk and an evil ruling tyrant. If you’re up for getting involved, tourists have to pay a small fee and be sure to make it clear how intense you want your battle to be because if you get wounded that cut is going to STING like nothing else.
However, if you’re feeling a bit piffy and want a break from flying fruit, explore Ivrea’s picturesque old town and sample some fagiolate, a delicacy of beans and cured pork. You’ll be able to pick up a plateful at local market stalls throughout the festival. Overall, if you’re lacking in some vitamin c, this is the festival for you!
Arena Di Verona Opera Festival, Verona 24 June – 28 Aug, 2016
You can’t go to Italy and not see an opera. That’s the rule OK. So if you want opera, some serious opera, it doesn’t get much bigger and better than 46 evenings worth of entertainment at Arena Di Verona Opera Festival. The performances are held in Verona in a spectacular Roman amphitheatre dating back thousands of years – the atmosphere is incredible!
Here’s a heads up on ticket prices and seats, cheapest tickets are 22 euros and if you fancy splashing out, the best seats in the house are 188 euros. FYI cheapest tickets are on the stone steps and they are on a first come first serve basis so get there early! It’s worth paying that little bit extra for comfort as some of the opera shows last around four hours, 80 euros for a back rest and cushion are well worth it.
Also, not sure how brushed up on your Italian opera you are but definitely read up on the story beforehand or bring a libretto (text) with you. Oh and bring a light it gets pretty dark in the amphitheatre and you’ll need to find your seat. But the whole experience is completely magical and you will feel like you’ve completely stepped back in time. Just remember it ain’t over until the fat lady sings (probably at about 1am).
Top Tip: Food in the theatre can be expensive so bring a snack and then head into Verona town for dinner – try Cappa Cafe, great ambience!
Gelato Festival Finals, Florence, Sept 1-4
Obviously we have to mention ice cream when in Italy. This one’s for all you gelato connoisseurs aka EVERYONE! The Gelato Festival is a touring festival which travels around Italy and Europe for 5 months, making its way to 9 different cities with the finals held in the beautiful city of Florence (where gelato was invented).
‘The Gelato Festival Finals’ is the ultimate ice cream event, gelato makers come together to showcase never before tasted flavours for you and a panel of esteemed judges. There are over 100 unique flavours, imagine an ice cream flavour and it will probably be at the festival.
It’s definitely worth getting yourself a Gelato Card, it’s about £5 and allows you to have 5 ice creams of your choice and to vote in the “Ice Cream Makers” competition. But it gets better, thanks to the card you are able to join in the gelato making classes, where you’ll learn about ice cream traditions, secrets and what makes gelato so unique!
Basically, you’ll spend the day eating the best ice cream in the world – what’s not to love? Welcome to the world of fantastic Italian-style gelato.