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. Whatever time of year you go, every region has its own special festivals. Plan your spring Italian holidays now. Keep reading.
So you are thinking of visiting southern Italy in April, but youíre just not sure what to see and to do. Donít you despair; there are lots and lots of special events that simply arenít 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 Basilicata, lucky enough to be on two sea coasts and then proceed in a clockwise direction heading to Calabria, Sicily, and finally Sardinia. There are so many things to see and do in southern Italy in April that this is the second of two articles.
One major early spring festival in Calabria is the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) Pageant. A fine place to experience this festival is the small town of Barile, population about 3 thousand that has a major Albanian influence. Here, as elsewhere, the Stations of the Cross represent the various episodes of the Passion of Christ. They include authentic reconstructions of the Gospel stories with fantasy figures expressing ancestral fears. For example, the "Negro" represents a stranger, and the "Gypsy" is a dark symbol of wealth who hides evil and danger. These figures express popular collective atonement. You will find other major Via Crucis Costumed Parades in Atella on the Thursday before Easter, and on Good Friday in Venosa and Maschito whose ceremony includes both Albanian and Greek aspects as does the one in Rionero in Vulture on the following day.
The city of Corigliano Calabro, whose population numbers about 40 thousand is located near the Gulf of Taranto in eastern Calabria. Residents celebrate their patron saint, St. Francis of Paola, on April 25. Old-timers in the Saintís native city of Paola, Calabria situated on the western coast will tell you about a modern miracle. Towards the end of World War II the frightened populace sought refuge in the Monastery of St. Francis of Paola. A nearly 200 pound (80 kilogram) fell into the crowd, but did not detonate.
The town of Cerda, Sicily population about 5 thousand, some 25 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Palermo hosts the Festival of the Artichoke on April 25. The local restaurants showcase special artichoke dishes and youíll enjoy the folklore displays. Cheese lovers should visit the village of Buscemi, population just over one thousand, situated some 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Syracuse. On the last weekend of the month the village presents its Sacre de Ricotta (Ricotta Festival) to honor their local sheepís milk cheese. The locals prepare fresh ricotta in huge vats cooking on open fires and then everybody lines up for warm ricotta served with freshly baked bread. You just canít miss the accompanying brass bands and traditional hand-painted Sicilian carts.
Cagliari, Sardinia is home to 160 thousand; its metropolitan area encompasses some 400 thousand. Aprilís fourth Sunday is home to the Cagliari Marathon, which passes through some very spectacular coastline. You donít have to be Sardinian to participate.
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 Southern Italy