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

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week
Passengers are pictured outside Venice's Santa Lucia train station in November 2016. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

From a nationwide train strike to Valentine's Day and Singles' Day, here's what to expect in Italy this week.

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Monday

Nationwide train strike

Passengers travelling to, from or across Italy by train are expected to face delays or cancellations on Monday, February 12th as staff at state-owned railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (which includes Trenitalia and Trenord) and private long-distance operator Italo plan to strike for a total of eight hours: from 9am to 5pm. 

Monday’s walkout is set to affect all types of rail travel, from long-distance services to regional ones, with the level of disruption expected to vary by city and operator.

Under national strike laws, operators will guarantee a minimum number of services (servizi essenziali). You can find out more about the time and frequency of those services in our article.

Argentine President Milei to meet PM Meloni in Rome 

Argentine President Javier Milei will meet Italian PM Giorgia Meloni and Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome on Monday in his first official visit to Italy since he took office in December 2023. 

Javier Milei

Argentina's President Javier Milei delivers a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2024. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Though information on exactly what the leaders will discuss is still vague, Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Minister Diana Mondino said last week that the conversation will revolve around both countries’ “political agenda” as well as “commercial aspects and the reintroduction of Argentina into the world”. 

A self-described anarcho-capitalist, Milei is well known for his flamboyant personality and strong media presence.

Tuesday

Battle of the Oranges

The last, decisive clash in the Battle of the Oranges – one of Italy’s most peculiar carnival traditions – will take place in the morning of Tuesday, February 13th in the small town of Ivrea, just north of Turin.

READ ALSO: Why does the Italian town of Ivrea hold a ‘battle of the oranges’?

Nine teams of ‘orange throwers’ (or arancieri) will go toe to toe with ‘henchmen’ riding down the town’s main streets on shielded carts, with the winners of the fight set to be proclaimed in the afternoon.  

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Wednesday

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, falling on Wednesday, February 14th, is celebrated in Italy in largely the same way as in the rest of the world, with couples around the country generally treating themselves to a romantic dinner or a fancy evening out and exchanging gifts.

That said, Saint Valentine is widely believed to have been an Italian saint, and is the patron saint of several Italian towns including Terni, Quero and Pozzoleone in Veneto, Palmoli in Abruzzo, and Vico del Gargano in Puglia.

Kiss, Rome

A couple kisses in Largo di Torre Argentina in central Rome in March 2014. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Each one of these towns has its own way of celebrating the day (for instance, Quero has a tradition of blessing oranges and throwing them off a hill for good luck).

Verona, where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet and which has appointed a particular balcony in the city centre ‘Juliet’s balcony’, has embraced the kitschier aspects of the festival, and every year puts on the five-day-long Valentines-themed Verona in Love.

Thursday

Singles’ Day 

Single people across the country will have a chance to even the score with their coupled-up friends on Thursday, February 15th, known in Italy as Singles’ Day, or more traditionally as the Feast of San Faustino (Festa di San Faustino).

Though it’s not clear exactly where it came from (it’s thought to have begun as a marketing gimmick in the early 2000s), the event has become a fixture on the Italian calendar over the years.

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READ ALSO: San Faustino: Why February 15th is 'Singles' Day' in Italy

For the occasion, cities across the country will hold a number of singles-only events, including sociable dinners, speed dating and parties.  

Farmers protest in Rome 

Italian farmers protesting against EU agricultural policies and high taxation are set to stage a second Rome demonstration on Thursday after a four-tractor convoy drove past the Colosseum last Friday.

According to the latest national media reports, some 20,000 people and around 15 tractors are expected to gather in the Circo Massimo area, central Rome, at 3pm. 

Besides farmers, the rally may also reportedly be joined by workers of other industries, including fishermen, lorry drivers and beach operators.

Weekend

Carnival celebrations in Milan

Carnival fun in Milan lasts longer than anywhere else in Italy as celebrations end on the first Saturday after Shrove Tuesday (that’s February 17th this year) instead of Shrove Tuesday itself due to the city following a different liturgical calendar.

Besides the usual mix of parades and street performances, the local carnevale offers participants a golden opportunity to sample traditional sweets such as chiacchiere and tortelli.

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