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 Italian holidays now. Keep reading.
Polenta, celebrated in Cineto Romano, Latium.
So you are thinking of visiting central Italy in February, but you’re not sure what to see and what to do. Don’t despair; there are lots and lots of special events that simply aren’t available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. Get rolling; February is almost upon us. We start our virtual counterclockwise tour in Latium. Then it’s east to Abruzzi, northwest to Tuscany, and finally northwest to Umbria.
Don't you love black truffles?
At the beginning of February, the small hilltop town of Fiuggi, Latium honors Saint Biagio. The townsmen transport “stuzze” (big) tree trunks from the forest on their shoulders and lighting them in the main square. The first Sunday of the month the village of Cineto Romano honors its patron saint, Saint Dorothy. This celebration is accompanied by the “Sagra della Polenta” honoring the popular, and I am told delicious, cornmeal dish by that name. You’ll enjoy the music and other festivities even if you don’t indulge in polenta.
The Abruzzi village of Taranta Peligna also celebrates Saint Biagio's Day. Saint Biagio is known as the protector of the throat; according to tradition he saved a child who had a thorn in his throat. A major feature of this solemn commemoration is the local specialty called “panicelle”, small hand shaped rolls that transported to the ovens by a procession of traditionally dressed young girls. The freshly baked rolls are blessed and distributed to one and all.
Then it’s on to the famous region of Tuscany. The small town of Vernio is host to a Chestnut Polenta Festival at the end of February or the beginning of March. This “Festa della Polenta” or "Pulendina" commemorates the 1512 famine, which ended when the local count distributed chestnut polenta, cod, and herring to the people. Don’t you dare sleep in or you will miss the medieval pageant of more that 500 participants who parade along the town streets starting at 9 in the morning. And don’t forget that Tuscany is home to some fine wines including Chianti, Brunello di Montalchino, and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. But not at 9 in the morning.
The Umbrian town of Terni celebrates their patron saint, Valentino, with a jewelry exhibition and contest and a torchlight parade. Can you guess the day of the month? On the third Sunday in February the city of Spello plays host to an Olive and Bruschetta Festival. Then February celebrations end with the Norcia Fair devoted to the Norcia Black Truffle and typical specialties from the surrounding area. In addition to the food you’ll like the music, dancing, crafts, folklore, and sports events. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine local wines.
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.
Feel free to reprint this entire article which must include the resource box
February events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Central Italy