May Attractions In Southern Italy, Part I

Let's go to Southern 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 southern Italy in May, but youíre just not sure what to see and to do. Donít you despair; there are lots and lots of special spring events that simply arenít 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 Campania on the coast of the Tyrhennian Sea and then head east to Apulia on the Adriatic seacoast. There are so many things to see and do in southern Italy in May that this is the first of three articles.

Maggiaiole southern Italian spring

The Campania port city of Salerno, whose population numbers approximately 150 thousand, is located approximately 35 miles (55 kilometers) southeast of the regional capital Naples. On the first weekend of May it celebrates Fieravecchia, one of Europe's oldest fairs, which has been going on since 1259. This medieval pageant is now largely a food trade fair which showcases literally hundreds of local pasta varieties and other great foods such as salami and tomato preparations, and water buffalo mozzarella cheese. Did I mention two fine local liquids, olive oil and wine? Actually there is another fine liquid which you wonít find almost anywhere else, limoncello, a sweet, lemon-tasting local liqueur. Festivities include a street pageant, music, artisan vendors and a 2,000 egg omelet.

Bari Apulia

Bari Apulia southern Italian spring

In the town of San Andrea di Conza, population about 2000, the end of May is celebrated with local May Day Festivities known as Maggiaiole. Devoutly religious local young girls march to Conza. Their heads are covered by a white handkerchief and a crown of gooseberry vines as they lead the populace. This religious manifestation effectively signifies the return of the people of Saint Andrea to Conza, their place of origin.

The Apulian region capital of Bari, population over 300 thousand, celebrates the Feast of Saint Nicholas, starting on May 7th and running through the weekend. This festival commemorates the return of the Saintís relics to Bari in 1807. On Saturday the parade of locals dressed in traditional costumes departs from the Twelfth Century Norman Svevo Castle and proceeds to the Saintís Basilica. The following evening another parade wends its way through torchlit streets. The faithful transport a statue of Saint Nicholas to a floating altar situated in a fishing boat. Unlike many other Italian festivals, this one does not revolve around food. Those who march get a roll. But the lack of food doesnít stop them from participating and shouldnít stop you from enjoying the festivities. And I have the sneaking suspicion that you will be able to find some delicious food and wine once the celebration is over.

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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 devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website 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 Southern Italy

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