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.
La Befana, a good witch for good kids.
So you are thinking of visiting central Italy in January, but youíre not sure what to see and what to do. Donít 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; January is not very far away. We start our virtual tour in Tuscany on the western coast and then travel east to the Marches and Abruzzi on the Adriatic Sea. Then we almost complete the circle by visiting the Vatican City in Rome.
Enjoy the winter in central Italy.
A major attraction of Tuscany in January is Il Palio di Sant'antonio Abate in Buti near Pisa which is held on the first Sunday after January 17. The festivities begin with a procession of people proudly wearing the colors of their neighborhood. In the afternoon a horse race pits local neighborhoods against each other. The winner receives a special banner, which is known as the Palio.
According to Italian tradition, honored in the Marches and elsewhere, Befana is a good witch who rewards good children with sweets and punishes the bad ones with coal every the 6th of January. Local residents claim that she lives in the town of Urbania. The celebrations start about January 2, culminating with a parade on the night of January 5. Make sure to visit the beautiful Renaissance hill town of Urbino, a UNESCO World Heritage site located only about 10 miles (17 kilometers) away.
Hundreds of costumed participants reenact the arrival of the Three Kings at the Manger on January 5 in Rivisondoli, Abruzzi. Every January the village of Picciano, Abruzzi hosts a traditional Befana Festival similar to the one described above. In mid-January the Abruzzi village of Fara Filiorum Petri is one of several others hosting a Farchie Festiva to honor of St. Anthony. Youíll enjoy huge bonfires with torches over ten meters long (more than thirty feet) and a meter wide, as well as firecrackers, songs, and stories. Mid-January in Ortona means a special festival in honor of Saint Sebastian with the launching of a brightly colored small boat filled with fireworks. Tradition tells us that the length of the boatís journey indicates the success of the coming agricultural and fishing seasons.
Finish this tour in the Vatican City, where on Epiphany (January 6), hundreds of people dressed in medieval costumes march down the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican, carrying symbolic gifts for the Pope. In St Peter's Basilica the Pope pronounces a morning mass to commemorate the Wise Men visit bearing gifts for Jesus. And Rome being Rome, youíll find lots to do and to see in January. 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.
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January events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in central Italy