Don't think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are plenty of things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, at any time of year. Off-season Italian holidays have several advantages: You won't fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find.
So you are thinking of passing your April holidays in Latium or elsewhere in central Italy. Don’t despair; there are lots and lots of special spring events that simply aren’t available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. Get rolling; April is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Molise on the eastern Adriatic coast and then proceed in a clockwise direction heading to Latium and then Umbria. There are so many things to see and do in central Italy in April that this is the second of two articles.
The village of Montemitro, Molise whose population is approximately 500, celebrates its patron Saint Lucia on the tenth of April; a procession transports an ancient statue of the saint to a little rural church. The festival commemorates the arrival of Slavic refugees who fled from Turkish domination some five centuries ago. It continues in the early afternoon with the auctioning of homemade products. Why not finish the month in the town of San Martino in Pensilis, population five thousand, about 30 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Campobasso as explained below? The feast of Saint Leo (the town’s Patron Saint) focuses on the Carrese, a race in which trained oxen haul farm wagons. This race is so exhausting that the oxen teams are changed after two and a half miles (four kilometers). Historically the race began when several groups of people argued over the ownership of valued local relics. To determine ownership they put the disputed relics on a wagon and let the oxen select the route. Those clever oxen chose San Martino in Pensilis. Each cart includes three drivers and is accompanied by a horse and rider to ensure everyone’s safety. Onlookers cheer their favorite team in Italian and Albanese, a version of Albanian that is spoken by many of the residents. There is lots of food and local wine. The winner leads a parade back into town.
The city of Sezze, Latium whose population numbers some 20 thousand, is located approximately 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Rome. On April’s final weekend Sezze hosts the Sacre del Carciofo (Artichoke Festival) that features artichokes from the local countryside and the well-known local breads. Be sure to try the “Carciofi alla Romana” (seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper and mentuccia, a local member of the mint family) and “Carciofi alla Giudea”; artichokes cooked in the Jewish style, fried crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Even if they are delicious, artichokes are considered difficult to pair with wine. The best choices are Gruener Veltliner from Austria or Vermentino from the region of Liguria. If you want to stay with a Latium wine, go for a Chardonnay.
The city of Castiglione del Lago, Umbria, population 15 thousand, located about 30 miles (45 kilometers) holds a Sagra Del Tulipano (Tulip Festival) in mid – April. The festival includes floats and a historical procession honoring the Duke of Ascanio Corgna, a local bigwig from the Renaissance days. City neighborhoods compete for the Palio (banner). You may want to accompany local food specialties with Duca della Corgna wine. You’ll also enjoy the majorettes and folkloric ballet.
The city of Terni, population 110 thousand, 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Rome holds the Umbria Jazz Gospel & Soul Easter Festival in late April. This festival features Afro-American gospel music but also includes more contemporary music such as soul, funk, rhythm and blues, and good old jazz. Many concerts take place in the Cathedral and other beautiful churches. Towards the end of the month visit the city of Narni, population 20 thousand, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Orvieto for the Corsa all’Anello a competition that honors its Patron Saint Giovanale. The first night there’s a huge, costumed parade. On the next night traditionally dressed (we’re talking about the Middle Ages) competitors try to run a spear through a ring.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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April events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in central Italy