On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week

From public holidays to food festivals, here are the key events happening in Italy this week that you should know about.

Milanese residents get a public holiday this week to celebrate their patron saint day.
Milanese residents get a public holiday this week to celebrate their patron saint day. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.


Ischia schools reopens – Primary schools will reopen in Ischia on Monday, just over a week after a deadly landslide that has so far claimed at least 11 lives led to evacuations and closures.

In a press conference on Saturday, Ischia commissioner Giovanni Legnini said that around one thousand of the island’s displaced residents were staying with friends and relatives, with over 400 more in hotels or independent accommodation.

High schools on the island are due to reopen on Wednesday.


Booking opens for Orient Express – Wealthy travellers looking for an Agatha Christie-style experience can book tickets for a ride on Italy’s new ‘La Dolce Vita’ Orient Express on Tuesday – a full two years before it sets off for the first time.

The train will reportedly have six different itineraries, from the Alps to the beaches of southern Italy, and incorporate 12 deluxe cabins, 18 suites, one La Dolce Vita suite, and a restaurant with 5-star service.

Passengers wanting to make an advance booking will need to pay a €500 deposit, with tickets starting at €2,000 per night.

Italy will get its own Orient Express luxury train service - in two years' time.

Italy will get its own Orient Express luxury train service – in two years’ time. Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP.


Day off in Milan – December 7th is a public holiday in Milan as residents commemorate their beloved patron saint, St Ambrose.

The annual Festa di Sant’Ambrogio gives residents an opportunity to catch up with family and friends and unofficially marks the start of the festive season in the northern metropolis.

READ ALSO: Why do Milan residents get a day off on December 7th?

On the day, families get together to celebrate in the best way known to Italians: with a big lunch, featuring local delicacies including Milanese-style risotto, mondeghili (meatballs) and rostin negàa (veal cutlets).

And the city has no shortage of events and activities to enjoy after the feast.


National public holiday – Thursday, December 8th is a public holiday throughout Italy as residents celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which commemorates the conception of the Virgin Mary.

Most Italian families celebrate with a big lunch, and may hold firework displays or light bonfires outside. 

READ ALSO: Why is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception a holiday in Italy?

December 8th unofficially marks the beginning of the Christmas period, with most towns putting up their Christmas lights on the day and pretty much everything in the country – especially administration-related procedures – noticeably slowing down from this point on.

This means you might want to get any important paperwork done before December 8th, or else you may have to wait until January 6th, when the Italian holidays officially end.


Abruzzo truffle festival – The first edition of the Abruzzo International Truffle Fair is set to take place from 9th-11th December in the region’s capital, L’Aquila.

The festival will involve 42 stalls and more than 60 companies, and will incorporate truffle-based food trucks, entertainment, master classes and seminars.

The event will be held in L’Aquila’s in the park surrounding the city’s 16th century castle, close to the historic centre.

L'Aquila in Abruzzo will host its first international truffle fair on December 9th-11th.

L’Aquila in Abruzzo will host its first international truffle fair on December 9th-11th. Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP.


Modena food festival – The 11th edition of the ‘Zampone and Cotechino Modena’ Festival returns to Modena’s Piazza Roma from 9th-11th December, after two years of pandemic cancellations and restrictions.

Students from some of Italy’s leading catering schools will compete to make the most mouthwatering dish, turning the square into an open-air kitchen. This one’s not for vegetarians: zampone and cotechino are types of spiced, slow-cooked pork.

Massimo Bottura, the owner-chef of Modena’s three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana, has reportedly picked the 10 best recipes submitted by participating student-chefs and will lead the jury judging the competition.


Trenitalia winter timetable – Italy’s main train operator Trenitalia switches to a winter timetable from Sunday, December 11th.

New features include an increase in the number of Frecciarossa Rome-Milan non-stop fast trains, double-decker carriages with a capacity of 900 passengers, and podcasts with guides to the passenger’s destination, the company announced.

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On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week

From food sampling in Florence to Venice Carnival’s flagship event, here’s what to expect in Italy this week.

On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week


Tasting experiences in Florence 

Monday, February 6th is the last day of Fuori di Taste, a city-wide food and drinks fair currently in its 16th instalment. 

The evening will start off at Harry’s Bar with tastings of where gin-makers will offer a sample of their best locally sourced creations.

The “journey through taste” will continue at the Vetreria Restaurant, where fusion cuisine will merge Florentine dishes with Latin American classics.

The evening will end at the Stellar Restaurant, where customers will be able to sample the famous Savini Tartufi truffles. 

The first two events are free, whereas tickets to the last one are 60 euros per person.


Sanremo music festival

The 73rd edition of Italy’s most famous song competition, the Sanremo music festival, will start on Tuesday, February 7th. 

Held in the Ligurian seaside city of the same name, the Sanremo festival will see 25 artists battle it out for the top spot over five nights, with the winner being crowned on Saturday, February 11th.

READ ALSO: Why is the Sanremo music festival so important to Italians?

Though its appeal might not be immediately obvious to outsiders, the show is a cornerstone of Italian popular culture and most locals wouldn’t swap il festival for any other TV programme in the world. 


  • European Council meeting on migrant crisis

European leaders including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will meet on Thursday, February 9th to start work on a common plan of action over the migrant crisis. 

Since it came to power with a strongly anti-migration stance, the Italian government has been demanding changes to the EU-wide approach to managing migration.

The meeting comes after more deaths were reported off Sicily last week, and Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner urged Italy’s government to scrap or rewrite a new anti-immigration decree that takes aim at charity rescue vessels operating in the central Mediterranean.

  • Train strike in Lombardy

Staff from the Lombardy region’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike, from 2am to 11.50pm, on Thursday, February 9th.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

It’s currently unclear how widespread the disruption will be or whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. See the company’s website for further information. 


Venice Carnival’s flagship event begins

After three years of toned-down celebrations, Venice’s famous Carnival is finally set to return to its former splendour.

Original Signs, the main event of this year’s edition, will begin at 6.30pm on Friday, February 10th at the iconic Venetian Arsenal, the former seat of the Venetian navy.

Tickets to the show can be bought here.

READ ALSO: Venice Carnival: What to expect if you’re attending in 2023

Circular fashion fair in Milan

Lombardy’s capital will hold a two-day sustainable fashion event 

Over 80 businesses, from start-ups to major brands, will take part in the fair, which includes exhibitions, art performances, seminars and workshops promoting the circular economy as an essential model to tackle global waste and climate change. 

The event, promoted and sponsored by Milan’s city council, will take place at BASE Milano. The full programme is available here.