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.
Reggio Calabria in Calabria, southern Italy.
So you are thinking of visiting southern Italy in March, 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; March is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Apulia on the eastern (Adriatic) sea coast and then proceed in a clockwise direction, skipping Basilicata, which we will visit in April, then head to Calabria, Sicily, and finally Sardinia.
All this and chocolate too.
Apulia, also known as Puglia, is a long thin region of southern Italy that faces the Adriatic Sea. Because it is in the south, spring comes here fairly early. On March 19 the town of Cisternino located some 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Brindisi hosts the Festival of the Gnemerlidde in honor of its patron San Giuseppe. In case you donít know, gnemerlidde are lamb giblets cut into strips and rolled up before they are skewered and grilled. Enjoy them with other local specialties including olives ricotta and pecorino goatís milk cheese. And donít forget the local wine. The community of San Marzano di San Giuseppe, population about 10 thousand, near the inside coast on the Gulf of Taranto hosts celebrations with traditional food specialties of its people with Albanian origins.
A major Calabrian March event is the Reggio Calabria Orange and Lemon Fair, which also showcases dried fruit and traditional wines of Calabria. This international exhibition is held in Reggio di Calabria, the regional capital and largest city whose population is about 185 thousand, just a short ferry ride from the island of Sicily.
The city of Modica, population about 55 thousand, and its surroundings on Sicilyís southern coast form a UNESCO Heritage site so youíll definitely want to visit. Modica claims to offer Italyís best chocolate, which was introduced by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s. On March 19 a bonfire burns all night long in front of the church of its patron saint, Saint George. On the 23rd of March the city of Vittoria, population 60 thousand, located near Sicilyís southwestern coast presents the Feast of the Foundation, an exhibition of local wines. Two days later the city of Patti, population about 30 thousand, hosts its annual Annunziata's feast with a parade of little children dressed like angels and covered in gold. The last Friday of March the town of San Marco d'Alunzio, population 2 thousand, situated some 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Palermo in northern Sicily celebrates the Festa della Crocifisso in which a solemn procession of thirty three hooded worshippers called Babaluti carry a Crucifix.
The small town of Sardara, population about 4500, is located in southern Sardinia some 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of the regional capital, Cagliari. On March 12 it commemorates the death of its Patron Saint San Gregorio Magno in the beautiful early Fourteenth Century church of the same name. There are actually two ceremonies, the religious one in March and the festive one on September 3. 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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March events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Southern Italy