May Attractions In Northern Italy, Part I

Let's go to Northern Italy this May...

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 northern Italy in May, but you’re just not sure what to see and to do. Don’t you 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; May is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Liguria, go north to Piedmont, and then further north to Val d’Aosta in the Italian Alps. There are so many things to see and do in northern Italy in May that this is the first of three articles.

Genoa Slow Fish

Genoa Slow Fish northern Italian spring.

Early in the month of May Liguria’s capital, the port city of Genoa, whose population is about 600 thousand hosts a celebration of the seas that they call Slow Fish. You will find a traditional fish auction, fish and seafood cooking demonstrations, and plenty to eat. Make sure to save room for traditional Genoa desserts. This program is part of the Slow Food Movement which concentrates on food quality and protecting the environment.

The coastal city of Camogli, population about 6 thousand is situated about 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of Genoa. Their annual Sagra del pesce (Fish festival) that runs on May’s second Sunday, celebrates the feast of St. Fortunato who is the patron saint of fishermen. You can’t miss the gigantic frying pans (some 12 feet or 4 meters in diameter) used to cook fresh fish the last day of the festival. There is free fried fish for some thirty thousand participants. Make sure that you sample the “Camogliesi” pastry balls filled with rum-flavored custard.

Cow Battle

Cow battle northern Italian spring.

In mid May the city of Asti, Piedmont, population 75 thousand about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Turin hosts the Ancient Popular Games that pit one neighborhood against another. In the village of Valmacca, population 1000, located about 45 miles (70 kilometers) east of Turin the end of May signals the Sagra dell'Asparago Verde (Green Asparagus Festival). In addition to some of the best asparagus you’ve ever eaten you will enjoy the live music, various and sundry festive activities, and local dry Italian white wine to accompany this marvelous vegetable.

For a change of pace attend the “Roman Fest” in the Piedmont city of Alessandria, population 90 thousand situated about 55 miles (90 kilometers) southeast of Turin. This fest includes a “Slave Auction”, gladiator combats, and a chariot race, great meals, and activities for children.

Then its on to the bilingual (Italian and French) enclave of Val d’Aosta. In early May the small town of Nus, population about 2500, celebrates two local wines Rouge and Malvoisie and specialty wines made from dried grapes. The festival includes folklore performances, a costumed parade, and an outdoor banquet with local food and the new wines. Other events include a free dinner, dancing, and children’s activities. Other May activities include the annual Spring Festival of Donnas, population about 3000. The village of Issime whose population numbers about 400 hosts a Cow Battle. And from mid-May until mid-September the small town of Issogne, population about 1400, hosts a local costume exhibition in its Castle.

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About the Author

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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May events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Northern Italy

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