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DISCOVER ITALY

Nine things to do in Italy in spring 2022

The days are getting longer and Italy is beginning to ease Covid-related health and travel restrictions. Here's some inspiration if you're planning to travel to or within Italy in the coming months.

A costumed celebration of Rome's birthday is just one of the events you can catch in Italy this spring.
A costumed celebration of Rome's birthday is just one of the events you can catch in Italy this spring. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP

March

  • Eurochocolate, Perugia (March 25th – April 3rd, 2022)

“Are you ready to immerse yourself in a world of sweetness?” ask the organisers of this year’s Eurochocolate Festival, which returns to the historic hilltop city of Perugia in Umbria from late March to early April after a two-year hiatus.

Planned activities and features include an Easter egg hunt, a fair with Easter-themed chocolates on sale, a bar with chocolate-flavoured drinks and snacks, and a parade.

Tickets are available online, with discounts on offer for under-18s and groups of more than ten people.

  • Rome Marathon (March 27th, 2022)

If the idea of puffing your way around one of the world’s most scenic marathon routes appeals, register now for the Rome Marathon.

Starting and ending by the Colosseum, the 26 mile course takes runners along the Tiber and past numerous historic sites including the ancient Roman Circo Massimo chariot race track, the Spanish Steps, Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica, to name a few.

According to the event’s website, registration closes at midnight on March 19th – so if you want to do a last-minute sign up, there’s still time.

March 19th is the last day to register for this year's Rome marathon.
March 19th is the last day to register for this year’s Rome marathon. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

April

  • Vinitaly, Verona (April 10th-13th, 2022)

Open to professionals only, the 54th edition of Verona’s world-renowned wine exposition will go ahead as usual this year, with four days of activities and events planned between April 10th and 13th.

If you’re more of a dilettante oenophile, there are dozens of publicly-accessible wine fairs scheduled to be held throughout the Italian peninsula between March and May; from Rome’s mid-March Vini Selvaggi natural wine exposition to Venice’s Bollicine in Villa sparkling wine tasting event at the start of April.

  • Scoppio del Carro, Florence (April 17th, 2022: Easter Sunday)

All Italy will of course be celebrating Easter Sunday, but only Florence does so by setting off explosions from a cart.

Every year, Italy’s Renaissance capital puts on a midday fireworks display in the Piazza del Duomo. A wooden wagon several hundred years old is pulled into the square by garlanded oxen, surrounded a procession of people dressed as Roman soldiers or in 15th century garb.

The cart comes to a rest outside the cathedral, where a service is given; afterwards, as Gloria in excelsis Deo is being sung, Florence’s cardinal lights a fuse on a model dove which then speeds down a cable through the church and onto the cart outside, setting off firecrackers and pinwheels and generating long smoke plumes.

Onlookers admire Florence's theatrical Easter celebrations.
Onlookers admire Florence’s theatrical Easter celebrations. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Last year’s event was a subdued affair, available to spectators only via online streaming: it’s unclear at this stage what shape the 2022 celebrations will take, but as events throughout the country are reopening, it’s hoped that visitors will be able to see this year’s spectacle unfold in person.

  • Rome birthday celebrations (April 21st – 24th, 2022)

Rome has a birthday, and it’s April 21st. Originally the date on which the agricultural pagan festival of Parilia was held, ancient Rome’s rulers repurposed the occasion to make it a celebration of the city’s origins.

This year, the Italian capital’s 2,775th birthday celebrations will be held in honour of the Emperor Vespasian, who established the Flavian dynasty and restored order to the empire after a civil war.

The programme put on by the Rome History Group will feature writer interviews, school workshops, photographic exhibitions, and historical reenactments and parades at the ancient Circus Maximus chariot race track in the centre of Rome.

Artichoke festival, Chiusure, Tuscany (April 22 – 25th, 2022)

While it doesn’t yet appear to have a fixed programme of events, the annual artichoke fair (Festa del carciofo) in the small Tuscan village of  Chiusure is due to return this year.

So far the organisers have announced a dinner to take place on Friday, April 22nd (advance booking required), and a traditional market with more than 20 stands selling local produce, musical performances and workshops to be held on April 25th.

Chiusure’s isn’t the only artichoke festival taking place in Italy this spring: Ladispoli, a town on the outer edges of the Metropolitan City of Rome, will reportedly put on Non è la Sagra (‘It’s not the fair’), a month-long event due to unfold every weekend between March 17th and April 10th, 2022, in an effort to remain Covid-friendly by spacing out the crowds.

Spring is artichoke season in Italy.

Spring is artichoke season in Italy. Photo by FRED TANNEAU / AFP
  • Festa di San Giorgio, multiple locations (April 23rd plus last Sunday in May – probably)

George may be best known to anglophones as England’s patron saint, but it’s Italians who really know how to fête the medieval knight, as he also happens to be claimed by multiple Italian (in particular, Sicilian) towns and cities.

These include the UNESCO world heritage city of Modica in Sicily, the neighbouring baroque city of Ragusa (where by far the biggest celebrations take place) and Vieste in Puglia, to name a few.

While St George’s feast day falls on April 23rd, Ragusa celebrates La Festa di San Giorgio with raucous festivities on the last Sunday in May, so you have multiple date options.

This one’s another ‘maybe’ for 2022: so far the Facebook page for Ragusa’s St. George’s Day merely says its organisers ‘would like’ to see the festival’s return this year, so keep checking back for updates.

May

  • Infiorata di Noto, Sicily (May 13th-15th, 2022 – probably)

According to local news outlets, the annual Infiorata May flowering celebrations in the baroque Sicilian city of Noto will be held as usual this year on the third weekend in May.

The festivities, which form part of the Primavera Barocca or ‘Baroque Spring‘ celebrations, see the 120 metre-long Via Corrado Nicolaci carpeted in elaborate flower petal displays.

May sees Noto's Via Corrado Nicolaci filled with elaborate flower petals designs.

May sees Noto’s Via Corrado Nicolaci filled with elaborate flower petals designs. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP

We note that neither the website for the Noto municipality nor the official Infiorata di Noto website have yet updated their pages with a programme for 2022, so if this is on your list, keep checking back to make sure this year’s event is going ahead.

May

  • Annual festival of classical theatre, Syracuse (May 27th – July 9th, 2022)

Built by ancient Greeks, the amphitheatre of Syracuse is returned to its original purpose once a year when it hosts its annual festival of classical theatre.

Tickets can be bought online now from the website of Italy’s National Institute of Ancient Drama for this year’s festival, which opens with Agamemnon by Aeschylus and Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. 

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What to do in Rome this August

Rome may be emptied of Italians in August, but the city still has plenty to offer.

What to do in Rome this August

August has arrived in Italy, which means chiuso per ferie (closed for the holidays) signs are starting to pop up in the shuttered shopfronts of towns and cities across the country.

Each summer, there’s an annual exodus from urban centres as locals flee their simmering asphalt jungles for the cooler climes of the coast – and Rome’s no exception.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

But if you’ve unwittingly booked your holiday to coincide with the capital’s emptiest and sweatiest season, don’t despair: there’s still plenty going on.

Here are ten things to do in Rome this August.

Go sales shopping

Shopping sales, or saldi, are closely regulated in Italy, with only two big sales allowed per year.

This year’s summer sales season in Lazio, the region where Rome is based, runs until August 15th.

Until then you can browse the sales at your leisure, taking advantage of the lack of other shoppers to snap up items locals have missed.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about sales shopping in Italy

Chill on the Tiber with Lungo Il Tevere

Lungo Il Tevere, a series of summer events and food and drink stalls along the Trastevere section of the River Tiber, runs from mid-June until the end of August every year.

From 7pm each evening you can have an aperitivo or even a meal at one of the pop up restaurants overlooking the river, browse stalls selling clothing and trinkets, and play table football.

Every summer in Rome the Lungo il Tevere festival hosts a series of events and stalls along the River Tiber.
Every summer in Rome the Lungo il Tevere festival hosts a series of events and stalls along the River Tiber. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP.

READ ALSO: What changes about life in Italy in August 2022

From around 9pm until 2am, a nightly events programme kicks off that includes film screenings, discussions, presentations and musical performances.

Outdoor cinema screenings

Many of Rome’s outdoor cinema programmes close at the end of July, but there are a few that run into August. 

One is the Caleidoscopio programme, which is held in an open air ‘cinema’ at Villa Borghese from June 9th to September 19th, including throughout the month of August. Most non-Italian films will be shown in the original language with Italian subtitles.

READ ALSO: The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

Tickets are free, but are first come, first served: to secure a seat, attendees should go to the ticket office within two hours of the film’s start time of 9pm.

Lungo Il Tevere is also screening at least one film a night – some free, others €6 entry – until August 15th.

Make sure you check language restrictions before going – V.O. means the film is in its original language, sott.Eng/ sott.Ita means it has either English or Italian subtitles. Neither means the film is dubbed into Italian or in the original Italian without subtitles.

Day trip to the beach

If the summer heat is getting too much for you, there are several beaches within easy reach of the Italian capital.

Fregene, just 30km from the capital is a popular destination – though you can’t get all the way there by train, and will have to take a bus for the last stretch of the journey if using public transport.

Santa Marinella beach with Santa Severa castle in the distance.
Santa Marinella beach with Santa Severa castle in the distance. Photo by Alessandro Canepa on Unsplash

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

The twin beaches of Santa Severa and Santa Marinella, while a little further out, are both without walking distance of stations that can be reached via a direct train from Rome.

Day trip to a lake

Not such a fan of the seaside? There are plenty of swimming lakes around Rome that can be visited by train for a small day-return fare.

The easiest to access from Rome are Lago di Albano and Lago Bracciano, both a little over one hour from city centre train stations.

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Both have shores and lidi that can be accessed via a short journey on foot walking downhill from the nearest train stop. You have the option of paying for a sunbed at a private lido or simply laying down your towel on a free section of the shore.

Outdoor opera at Terme di Caracalla

If you’ve ever dreamt of attending an opera under the stars amongst ancient Roman ruins, now’s your chance.

Every summer sees the Terme di Caracalla thermal baths in Rome host a series of after-dark operatic and ballet performances. The season ends on August 9th, but until then you can catch Carmen, The Barber of Seville, and Notre-Dame de Paris.

Performances start at 9pm. Tickets can be bought here.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

Jazz concerts at Casa del Jazz and Castel Sant’Angelo

Summertime 2022 at the Casa del Jazz features a series of outdoor evening concerts in the Villa Osio park. The programme runs until August 7th.

If that’s not enough jazz for you, Castel Sant’Angelo near the Vatican is also putting on ‘Classic Mit Jazz‘ on August 11th – a fusion of jazz and classical music with an ensemble that features a sax and drums as well as a violin and cello. Tickets are €12 full price, €2 for 18-25 year-olds.

Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo hosts a series of summertime events.
Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo hosts a series of summertime events. Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash 

The event is part of the venue’s ‘Sotto l’Angelo di Castello’ festival of dance, theatre and music performances, which runs until September 25th. 

Go to a museum for free

History and culture buffs who find themselves in Rome on August 7th are in luck: on this date (the first Sunday of the month) the city’s civic museums are open to all for free.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

That means you can visit popular sites like the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the National Museum, Palazzo Barberini, the ancient city of Ostia Antica, the Caracalla and Diocletian thermal baths, and Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este without paying a cent.

A full list of the museums and sites included in the scheme can be accessed here (this is a nationwide initiative involving hundreds of museums all across the country; search ‘Lazio’ to see which venues are included in and around Rome).

Attend a guided tour of the Colosseum under the stars

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night this August (and until the end of October) you can take a nighttime tour of the Colosseum featuring video projections and audio narration.

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Nine tips for making the most of a Rome city break

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The tour lasts one hour, with slots available between 8pm and midnight.

Tickets cost €25 full price and €20 for under-25s, and can be bought here.

Nighttime tours of the Colosseum can be booked Thursday-Saturday throughout August.
Nighttime tours of the Colosseum can be booked Thursday-Saturday throughout August.

Witness a midsummer snowstorm

Every year on August 5th Rome commemorates the ‘miracle of the snow’ outside the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Legend has it that on the night of August 4th in 358 BC, the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream before a noble Roman couple and showed them where to build a church in her honour.

READ ALSO: How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

The next morning the couple related the dream to Pope Liberius, who had had the same vision. He went to the place and found it covered in snow in the middle of summer. Tracing an outline, he demarcated the foundations, and had the church built on that spot at the couple’s expense.

The annual event starts at 9pm, with performances and music set against the backdrop of moving images and light plays projected on the basilica’s facade, and culminates in a midnight ‘snowstorm’ on the piazza outside.

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