Nine of Italy’s quirkiest festivals in 2019

Italy is home to some world-famous festivals and annual events. But there are also lots of smaller festivals taking place which are not quite as well known, celebrating everything from cherry trees to 50s rock’n’roll.

Nine of Italy's quirkiest festivals in 2019
Pink Night in Rimini. Photo: Rimini tourist board

So if you fancy seeing something a bit different on your next trip to Italy, here's our round up of some of the country’s quirkier festivals and their dates for 2019.


Where: Verona, Veneto

When: 11-14 February 2019

What more romantic way could there be to celebrate Valentines’ Day than in Verona? Famous as the setting for Romeo and Juliet, Verona holds a celebration of romance for several days in February with its streets and squares filled with live concerts and markets. There are also foodie events and cut-price entry to some attractions, including Juliet’s house.

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Where: Vignola, Emilia Romagna

When: mid March – mid April 2019

This Renaissance town in the province of Modena is famous for its cherry trees, and if you’re a fan of cherry blossom then you’ll want to visit in late March or early April. As the trees bloom, the town is taken over with a programme of parades, concerts, exhibitions, special restaurant menus and various other activities to enjoy.

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Photo: Flickr/lisa boboley


When: 15-18 May 2019

Where: Brescia-Rome

This long-established but still unique race attracts thousands of vintage car lovers to Italy every year. A selection of vintage cars travel no-stop from Brescia to Rome and back, with crowds greeting them at numerous Italian towns along the way.

 In 2019 the cars will leave Brescia on 15 May and they will arrive in Rome on Thursday 16 May. They will be then back in Brescia on Saturday 18 May, where an awards ceremony will be held.

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Photo: Flickr


Where: Siracusa, Sicily

When: 9 May – 6 July 2019

I you’re heading to Sicily this summer, you have the chance to see classical Greek theatre performances in the magical atmosphere of the Greek Theatre in the town of Siracusa. This year’s programme includes plays by Euripides and Aristophanes.

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Where: Salento, Apulia

When: 24 August 2019

As the southern region of Puglia bakes in high temperatures at the end of August, dancers and musicians come together to celebrate the pizzica tarantata, a kind of upbeat, frantic music and dance that originated in the middle ages. It’s said to have been how women in the middle ages would vent the frustration and “madness” they felt at being oppressed by a strict patriarchal culture. As a cover, they said it was poisonous spider bites making them so miserable.

This is now one of Europe’s most important traditional music festivals, with itinerant performances in villages around the region throughout August ,before a final concertone, or grand concert, that attracts some 200.000 visitors from all over the world.

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Pizzica dancers. Photo: Flickr/loloeig


Where: Lungarno, Pisa, Tuscany

When: 16 June 2019

For one night in June the town of Lungarno is lit by thousands of candles in special glass and wood frames, creating a magical atmosphere for the Luminara of San Ranieri, one of the region’s biggest events.

The Luminara of San Ranieri in Pisa is considered one of the major events of the summer of the city and of the entire region. On the evening of the 16th June (the eve of the Patron Saint festivity, San Ranieri) the highlight the outline of the palaces, of the bridges, of the churches and of the towers reflecting the river.

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Where: Senigallia, Marche

When: 31 July – 11 August 2019

Italy is home to a few big music festivals but the Summer Jamboree, held in Marche, is one of the more unusual ones.

Completely dedicated to American music and culture from the ’40s and ’50s. Live concerts and markets selling retro gear and vinyl attract crowds of enthusiastic fans from all over Italy and the world. There’s also a ‘40s and ‘50s classic car show.

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Where: Adriatic coast, Emilia Romagna and Marche

When: 6-7 July 2019

In summer a 170 kilomtre stretch of the Riviera, along the Romagna and Marche coastline, from the Lidos of Comacchio to Senigallia, turns pink from sunset until dawn.

Every town interprets the theme in a different way, competing to be the most creative and original, putting on shows, theatre performances and other events. Rimini usually has the biggest party of all. Why pink? No one really seems to know. The tourist board says it’s the colour that best represents the Riviera. Either way, this all-night party is always a lot of fun.

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Fireworks for Pink Night. Photo: Rimini tourist board


Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.