What you need to know about the return of Italy’s summer concerts

Italy’s piazzas are preparing to host long-awaited summer concerts in the coming months, albeit with reduced audiences and social distancing measures.

What you need to know about the return of Italy’s summer concerts
Illustration photo: AFP
Milan’s annual concert by La Scala’s Filarmonica orchestra, which was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, has been rescheduled to 13 September.
The eighth edition of the “Concerto per Milano”, a free classical concert that transforms Piazza Duomo into an open air stage every summer, has been symbolically renamed “Concerto per l’Italia”.
But this year’s edition will also be very different due to the strict security measures that will be put in place. Only 2 thousand attendees (compared to 20 thousand in previous years) will be allowed to sit in the square and will have to book their ticket online. Tickets for the concert are free.
The rest will be able to watch the concert live on Rai5 at 8:30pm.
In Marsciano, Umbria, the town council is currently making sure security measures can be maintained during a reduced version of the Musica per i Borghi festival that will take on the weekend of 21 August.
“We have worked with the organisers and are implementing several changes in how the shows are managed, and in how the audience will access the concerts so that we can ensure maximum safety for everyone,” Vincenzo Antognoni, member of the municipal council, told Perugia Today.
These changes include a reduced number of shows,that will all take place in a single location of Marsciano (it usually takes place in a number of small Umbrian hill towns); as well as the absence of street food vendors. The biggest concert will be limited to 1 thousand attendees, and the rest of the shows will take place in a large pedestrianised area in the town centre, with closely monitored entry points to limit the amount of people.

“These measures will inevitably reduce the size of the audience,” said Antognoni. “However, it is important at this time marked by the pandemic and the economic crisis, for us to be able to count on cultural events like this one to help boost the region’s socio-economic development.”

Across Italy, people are required to keep a minimum distance of one metre at all times when out of the house. If that’s not possible, wearing masks is mandatory. 

Face masks are a requirement in Italy inside closed spaces, such as shops and public transport, as well as in bars and restaurants except when sitting down. However, due to local legislation, rules vary slightly from one Italian region or city to another.

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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.