Italy is home to many unique, spectacular and exciting cultural events of international importance. There are plenty of opportunities to get unforgettable emotions. A wide choice for music, film and food lovers all year round. Among the most famous ones being the Film Festival in Venice, Umbria Jazz Festival in Umbria and probably Pizzafest in Naples, but there are also some unique festivals in Italy.
So, if you are into more alternative options, and looking for more unique and off the beaten track experiences, here’s a summary of the most interesting and relatively unique festivals that are worth paying attention to.
Unique Festivals In Italy
The Battle Of The Oranges in Ivrea
The Battle of the Oranges is certainly a unique festival in Italy, in the Northern city of Ivrea, which includes a tradition of throwing of oranges between organized groups. It is the largest food fight in Italy and surrounding countries. Thousands of people throwing tons of oranges at each other 3 days long in a small charming northern town. Sounds exciting, right?
It comes from an ancient tradition that started in the middle of the 19 century as an inspiration of a similar event that took place in the Middle-Ages. The festival takes place once a year, at the end of February, or beginning of March.
It’s like reimagination of the war that took place between the locals and Royal Napoleonic troops, commemorating the city’s resistance to tyrants. Reportady, one of these tyrants even tried to rape a young lady on the evening of her wedding, supposedly exercising the droit du seigneur, which definitely was the main trigger of the riot. This whole story and history behind makes the festival even more unique and appealing taking into account that at the end of the day it represents city’s resistance to tyrants.
The actual celebration is the famous Battle of the Oranges that involves thousands of people, divided into nine combat teams, throwing oranges at one another. It costs about 150 euros to participate, get the helmet and the inform and join on of these teams. Seeing thousands of people fighting between the city squares is an incredible spectacle with more than 400 tons of oranges thrown every battle day, and the fresh citrus smell in the air throughout the whole period, is something you should see live at least once. The festival goes on for 3 days and Ivrea is being transformed into a carnival town during that period. The vast majority of the participants are locals and you can rarely notice outside tourists being a part of it, which makes it even more appealing, because the town itself is really small with a population of less than 30,000 people.
For those who might be worried about the food waste it might seem that wasting 600,000 pounds of oranges is not the best thing to do, but it is the marginal extra production that has no other purpose.
It’s a beautiful showcase of an interaction between people that is definitely off the beaten track. Spectacular and one of a kind unique event that would definitely differ from any other festival you’ve experienced before.
Luminara of San Ranieri in Lugarnos of Pisa
Once a year more than 70,000 candles inside transparent containers burn and reflect on the river Arna. The town of Lungarno becomes something out of a fairytale, that’s the vibe you will get when you find yourself surrounded with candle lights burning and reflecting all around in this charming town across the beautiful river Arna.
This tradition started in the 17th century, when the urn containing the body of Ranieri degli Scaccieri was placed in the chapel in the Pisa Cathedral. The urn’s relocation was an opportunity to host a memorable city festival, inspiring, according to tradition, the “illumination” that took place every three years and in the 19th century the event was officially named Luminaria.
Luminara of San Ranieri takes place on the 16th of June in Lungarnos of Pisa.
Pisa like Florence, is crossed by Arna river. Lugarnos are the streets of the city that pass beside the river Arno and it’s a must see not only for the festival, but also if you want to see and understand better the past and the present of Pisa. It used to be a very important neighbourhood centuries ago, where many notable families have had their houses.
All these lights makes the contours of palaces, bridges, churches and towers highlighted which definitely gives surreal vibe to the city. But that’s not all. Some chunk of candles are floating and put into the river and just go with the flow of Arno along the way.
This magical night doesn’t end here. Closer to the midnight there a fireworks show and the best spot to admire is definitely from along the river. After a while the streets start to get crowded mostly with local students going out for fireworks followed by a night out.
The Vie dei Tesori in Palermo and several others cities
Another unique festival in Italy is the Vie dei Tesori. Established in 2006 by the will of a group of journalists and local cultural operators who decided to pool forces to enhance the tangible and intangible heritage of Palermo, Vie dei Tesori is a festival that promotes culture and moves the economy back in Palermo.
It takes place in 8 weekends between September and November; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It starts on September 13th with ten cities, for three weekends, until September 29th: Acireale, Caltanissetta, Marsala, Messina, Naro, Noto, Sciacca, Sambuca, Siracusa, Trapani.
On 4 October the baton passes to Palermo, Catania, Ragusa, Modica and Scicli, which will become a great museum spread until Sunday 3 November. You can check the whole programme on their website.
The Vie dei Tesori is one of the largest Italian festivals dedicated to the discovery of the city’s heritage, but mostly popular among the locals, which makes it even more authentic and appealing for tourists that are into experiencing more local activities.
Many of the city’s usually closed places are open to the public. However, there are also usually open places, with the advantage of guided tours and price in some cases reduced.
La Notte Rosa in Rimini and other towns along the Adriatic
An annual festival that takes place every summer in the month of July. Everything along the 170km coastline stretch turns pink from sunset until dawn.
La Notte Rosa takes place in several cities at once, along the coastline, Rimini being the main stage. There are events and concerts organised in all the towns, each town having its unique theme.
While all the towns competing with each other trying to be the most creative one, Rimini usually has the biggest stage. But checking all the towns that are quite close to each other and not stopping at Rimini is definitely a good idea.
A very unique festival in Italy, La Notte Rossa is some kind of an alternative variation of the White Night Concept that was really popular in Europe. You’ve probably heard of White Night carnival in St. Petersburg or Nuit Blanche in Paris. And La Notte Rossa was supposed to be adriatic pink alternation of that very same concept. Pink colour is picked as a representation of softness, gentleness and friendliness. Basically everything turns into pink, definitely a scenery worth witnessing. And is case you are remote working and looking to a few places to work while in the city, make sure to check this list with some very unique coworking spaces in Italy.
Verona in Love
Verona in Love it’s a festival with a name that is probably self explanatory in terms of what is it about together with the location and period it takes place. Yes, it takes place in February in Verona and a great way to spend Valentines’ Day with your loved one.
The festival lasts for several days, and to our deepest belief despite its name and location having a partner is not mandatory to be able to still enjoy it. Live concerts and performances, entrance fees to museums at reduced rates, food events and much more are part of the festival, so one definitely can not feel bored, with or without a partner.
This long magical weekend can transport you to a whole new universe, offering something for anyone, from romantic concerts to the famous Giulietta and Romeo Half Marathon that takes place during that period with thousands of participants.
Organised by the Municipality of Verona in collaboration with the Province and the merchants’ associations, this unique festival in Italy has the end goal to give the event an increasingly cultural value, offering citizens and numerous tourists the opportunity to visit local museums and participate in the initiatives promoted for the occasion.
Probably the best way to celebrate the most romantic period of the year in such a special and unique way.