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TOURISM

Nine fun things to do in Italy in February 2022

There are only 28 days in February this year and the calendar is jam-packed with fun things to do in Italy. Read our selection of some of the best events and activities.

Venice's February Carnevale celebrations are a highlight of the year.
Venice's February Carnevale celebrations are a highlight of the year. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

With its short days and grim weather, February can be a difficult month. 

Fortunately, there is lots going on to keep you entertained.

Here’s our pick: 

Visit one of Rome’s world-class museums for free

Following a Covid-induced hiatus, free museum days have returned to Rome, with the capital’s civic museums open to all free of charge on the first Sunday and the Vatican’s museums on the last Sunday of every month.

On February 6th, anyone in the city will be able to access the likes of the Capitoline Museums, Ara Pacis, and Trajan’s Market without spending a centesimo; while the Vatican opens its museums’ doors free to the public on February 27th.

READ ALSO: The best events and festivals in Italy in 2022

Visits to the civic museums must be booked in advance by calling 060608 by the Friday before (February 4th), or going to a Tourist Infopoint. A free visit to the Vatican museums can’t be booked – you’ll need to arrive early in the morning and should expect to queue up for several hours.

Remember that Italy now requires a ‘super green pass’ Covid health certificate, or its equivalent in the form of a foreign-issued vaccination certificate (digital or print-out) to access all tourist and cultural sites, as well as hotels, restaurants, public transport, and most other leisure venues and services.

Twirl your ballgown at the Venice carnival

Italy is famed for its carnivals that unfold in towns and cities across the country in February, and none is more celebrated than Venice’s two-week-long jamboree.

After dressing up to the nines in full rococo regalia, attendees can ride a gondola down the Grand Canal to attend the Grand Masquerade Ball at Palazzo Pisani Moretta and stuff themselves with fried treats like frittelle Veneziane.

This year’s festivities will take place from February 12th to March 1st. This year’s programme will be somewhat reduced because of Covid.

READ MORE: Venice Carnival: What you need to know about attending in 2022

Masked revellers pose for a photo during Venice’s carnival celebrations.

Masked revellers pose for a photo during Venice’s carnival celebrations. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Marvel at the Viareggio carnival’s papier-mâché floats

Venice isn’t the only Italian city to be found partying up a storm in February.

Every year the Tuscan coastal town of Viareggio holds a spectacular parade that sees masked participants carry hundreds of papier-mâché floats up to 70 feet high along the seafront to music and dancing.

Over the course of the festival, plays are performed in the local dialect around the city, and all-night masked parties are held in bars and hotels on the weekends. The event annually attracts crowds of 500,000. 

This year’s celebrations will be held from February 12th to March 5th. Because of the event’s popularity, tickets must be bought in advance here.

Mock the rich at Acireale’s carnival

Our last top pick for Italian carnivals to attend this year is the one held in Acrireale, Sicily.

Papier-mâché floats also feature in this parade; although here, there’s a particular focus on puppets that caricature and satirise political and public figures. Floats featuring elaborate cascades of flowers and sparking LED lights are also part of the spectacle.

Acrireale’s festivities also once featured the throwing of rotten eggs, oranges and lemons in the street, but (perhaps luckily for less intrepid visitors) the custom was banned in 1612.

Like Venice’s, Acireale’s Carnivale this year will be held from February 12th to March 1st.

These are three of Italy’s most famous carnevale celebrations, but many more take place throughout the month of February that are worth your time; have a look online to see what’s happening in your area.

A scene from Acireale's Carnival.
A scene from Acireale’s Carnival. Photo by Malega/Flickr

Eat a sweet treat at the Feast of Sant’Agata

If you’re planning on seeing Arcireale’s carnival, consider stopping by a few days earlier to attend the Feast di Sant’Agata in nearby Catania.

The festival commemorates Saint Agatha, a pious girl from a noble family who, legend has it, cut off her own breasts and subsequently martyred herself to escape the advances of a lecherous governor.

The three-day long festivities usually involve processions, firework displays, general carousing, and cassatelle or minne di Sant’Agata – ricotta-filled sponges designed to look like the saint’s amputated bosoms.

The festival takes place every year between February 3rd and February 5th; note that this year, as a result of the pandemic, a stripped-down version of the event is being held, with a greater focus on the religious and ceremonial elements.

Attend a candlelit concert in Milan 

If you like the idea of being serenaded by candlelight (and aren’t put off by a little corniness), Milan’s Casa Cardinale Ildefonso Schuster is hosting a series of romantically-lit night time concerts throughout the month of February.

String quartets, pianists and jazz musicians will play music from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone Coldplay and Taylor Swift.

Most days will see the 16th century structure host two concerts – one at 8pm and another at 10pm. Tickets can be bought online here.

The Siegfried quintet group performs "The Four Seasons" by candlelight at the Milanese pastoral center in Milan on May 7, 2021.
The Siegfried quintet group performs “The Four Seasons” by candlelight at the Milanese pastoral center in Milan on May 7, 2021. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

Go bargain hunting at an antiques market

Whether you fancy yourself a true collector or just enjoy foraging for hidden treasures and curios, an Italian antiques market is the place for you.

Italy has a wealth of markets to choose from in February: whether it’s the one held in Sabbioneta, Lombardy on February 6th, which promises paintings, musical instruments, and games from a bygone era; Verona’s monthly antiques fair, scheduled for 8am-5pm on the same date in Piazza San Zeno, which will be Valentine’s themed; Turin’s Gran Balon flea market in Porta Palazzo on February 13th, which offers vintage items and collectibles; or Vicenza’s antiques fair, scheduled for the same date, you’re bound to find something for you or your Valentine.

Spend St Valentine’s Day somewhere romantic

You probably learned in school that St Valentine was a third-century Roman, and Italy is nothing if not proud and a little possessive of its historical figures and traditions (‘Is St. Valentine’s Day celebrated outside of Italy?’ pondered the news outlet Adnkronos in a recent article).

What better place than Italy, then, to spend your Valentine’s Day weekend. The rolling hills of Tuscany, the rugged landscapes of Matera, or the snow-capped mountains of the Dolomites are all atmospheric settings for a romantic late-winter getaway.

If you prefer your Valentine’s celebrations a little more camp and crowded, Verona in Love (February 11th-14th) might just be the event for you.

This three-day function features a range of love-themed exhibits and activities, and sees the streets and squares of Verona (famous as the setting for Romeo and Juliet) filled with live concerts and markets. There are also foodie events and cut-price entry to some attractions, including Juliet’s house. 

READ ALSO: Three stories of finding love in Italy that will restore your faith in romance

Go to a chocolate festival

Chocolate lovers in Italy have a couple of different options this February.

If you’re near Asiago, Veneto towards the start of the month, head to the Art & Ciocc festival that sees chocolatiers from Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Umbria, Calabria, and Sicily showcase their creations in Piazza Carli over the course of four days from February 3rd-6th.

Chocolate creations on display at the 3rd Chocolate Fair in Milan on February 15, 2018.
Chocolate creations on display at the 3rd Chocolate Fair in Milan on February 15, 2018. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

As well as traditional confections, gluten-free, organic, vegan, sugar-free and fine raw chocolate will be on offer.

Milan is putting on the Choco Experience festival in Piazza Città di Lombardia between February 24th and 27th. The event promises market stands selling chocolate-based products, as well as workshops, cooking demonstrations, children’s entertainment and wine pairings; entrance is 5 euros, or free to under-12s.

February also usually sees Florence host its annual Fiera del Cioccolato Artigianale chocolate festival: while no programme has been announced this year, its website says “we’ll see you in 2022” – so keep an eye out for something later in the year.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that a calcio storico ‘historic football’ match would take place in Florence on February 17th, 2022. This is incorrect: this year’s tournaments are expected to be held on the usual dates in June. The Local apologises for the error.

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DISCOVER ITALY

MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Here are the remote Italian villages worth seeking out in 2022, according to a list compiled by one of the country's leading tourism associations.

MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

A total of 270 villages across Italy have been recognised as being especially tourist-friendly this year by the Italian Touring Club (Touring Club Italiano), one of the country’s largest non-profit associations dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism throughout the territory.

‘Orange Flag’ status is awarded if a village is judged to have significant historic, cultural and environmental value, as well as for being welcoming to visitors and outsiders, according to the initiative’s website.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Villages can apply for the status if they are located inland with no coastal stretches; have fewer than 15,000 inhabitants; have a well-preserved historic centre and a strong sense of cultural identity; demonstrate sensitivity to issues of sustainability; have a well-organised tourist reception system; and show an intention to continue to make improvements to the town.

The list is updated annually, and in 2022 three new villages gained orange flag status for the first time: Dozza in Emilia Romagna, Manciano in Tuscany, and Sasso di Castalda in Basilicata.

See below for the map and a list of the Orange Flag villages according to region:

Montepulciano in Tuscany has 'orange flag' status.

Montepulciano in Tuscany has ‘orange flag’ status. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Abruzzo – 7 villages

Civitella Alfadena, Fara San Martino, Lama dei Peligni, Opi, Palena, Roccascalegna, Scanno.

Basilicata – 6 villages

Aliano, Castelmezzano, Perticara Guard, San Severino Lucano, Sasso di Castalda, Valsinni.

Calabria – 6 villages

Bova, Civita, Gerace, Morano Calabro, Oriolo, Tavern.

Campania – 5 villages

Cerreto Sannita, Letino, Morigerati, Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Zungoli.

READ MORE: Six Italian walking holiday destinations that are perfect for spring

Emilia Romagna – 23 villages

Bagno di Romagna, Bobbio, Brisighella, Busseto, Castell’Arquato, Castelvetro di Modena, Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole, Dozza, Fanano, Fiumalbo, Fontanellato, Longiano, Montefiore Conca, Monteleone, Pennabilli, Pieve di Cento, Portico and San Benedetto, Premilcuore, San Leo, Sarsina, Sestola, Verucchio, Vigoleno.

Friuli Venezia Giulia – 7 villages

Andreis, Barcis, Cividale del Friuli, Frisanco, Maniago, San Vito al Tagliamento, Sappada.

Lazio – 20 villages

Arpino, Bassiano, Bolsena, Bomarzo, Calcata, Campodimele, Caprarola, Casperia, Collepardo, Fossanova, Labro, Leonessa, Nemi, San Donato Val di Comino, Sermoneta, Subiaco, Sutri, Trevignano Romano, Tuscania, Vitorchiano.

Liguria – 17 villages

Airole, Apricale, Balducco, Brugnato, Castelnuovo Magra, Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, Dolceacqua, Perinaldo, Pigna, Pinion, Santo Stefano d’Aveto, Sassello, Seborga, Toirano, Triora, Vallebona, Varese Ligure.

Lombardy – 16 villages

Almenno San Bartolomeo, Bellano, Bienno, Castellaro Lagusello, Chiavenna, Clusone, Gardone Riviera, Gromo, Menaggio, Pizzighettone, Ponti sul Mincio, Sabbioneta, Sarnico, Solferino, Tignale, Torno.

Marche – 24 villages

Acquaviva Picena, Amandola, Camerino, Cantiano, Cingoli, Corinaldo, Frontino, Genga, Gradara, Mercatello sul Metauro, Mondavio, Montecassiano, Montelupone, Monterubbiano, Offagna, Ostra , Ripatransone, San Ginesio, Sarnano, Serra San Quirico, Staffolo, Urbisaglia, Valfornace, Visso.

Molise – 5 villages

Agnone, Ferrazzano, Frosolone, Roccamandolfi, Scapoli.

READ MORE: These are the 20 prettiest villages across Italy

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination.

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Piedmont – 40 villages 

Agliè, Alagna Valsesia, Arona, Avigliana, Barolo, Bene Vagienna, Bergolo, Candelo, Canelli, Cannero Riviera, Cannobio, Castagnole delle Lanze, Cherasco, Chiusa di Pesio, Cocconato, Entracque, Fenestrelle, Fobello, Gavi, Grinzane Cavour, Guarene, La Morra, Limone Piemonte, Macugnaga, Malesco, Mergozzo, Moncalvo, Monforte d’Alba, Neive, Orta San Giulio, Ozzano Monferrato, Revello, Rosignano Monferrato, Santa Maria Maggiore, Susa, Trisobbio, Usseaux, Usseglio, Varallo, Vogogna.

Puglia – 13 villages

Alberona, Biccari, Bovino, Cisternino, Corigliano d’Otranto, Locorotondo, Oria, Orsara di Puglia, Pietramontecorvino, Rocchetta Sant’Antonio, Sant’Agata di Puglia, Specchia, Troia.

Sardinia – 7 villages

Aggius, Galtellì, Gavoi, Laconi, Oliena, Sardara, Tempio Pausania.

Sicily – 1 village

Petralia Sottana

Tuscany – 40 villages

Abetone Cutigliano, Anghiari, Barberino Tavarnelle, Barga, Casale Marittimo, Casciana Terme Lari, Casale d’Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, Castiglion Fiorentino, Certaldo, Cetona, Chiusi, Collodi, Fosdinovo, Lucignano, Manciano, Massa Marittima, Montalcino, Montecarlo, Montefollonico, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, Murlo, Peccioli, Pienza, Pitigliano, Pomarance, Radda in Chianti, Radicofani, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Gimignano, Santa Fiora, Sarteano, Sorano, Suvereto, Trequanda, Vicopisano, Vinci, Volterra. 

Trentino Alto Adige – 8 villages

Ala, Caderzone Terme, Campo Tures/Sand in Taufers, Ledro, Levico Terme, Molveno, Tenno, Vipiteno/Sterzing.

Umbria – 10 villages

Bevagna, Città della Pieve, Montefalco, Montone, Nocera Umbra, Norcia, Panicale, Spello, Trevi, Vallo di Nera.

Val d’Aosta – 3 villages

Etroubles, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Introd.

Veneto – 12 villages

Arquà Petrarca, Asolo, Borgo Valbelluna, Cison di Valmarino, Follina, Malcesine, Marostica, Montagnana, Portobuffolè, Rocca Pietore, Soave, Valeggio sul Mincio.

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