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 Basilicata, the instep of the Italian boot and then head south to the foot, Calabria. There are so many things to see and do in southern Italy in May that this is the second of three articles.
San Gerardo is the patron saint of Potenza, population 70 thousand, the regional capital of Basilicata. While his festival is on May 30, the preceding day this city celebrates the Sfilata dei Turchi (Procession of the Turks). Local tradition says that in the middle of the night Saracen pirates navigated upstream the Basento River and attacked the city. The defenseless inhabitants were filled with joy when the sky lit up and a row of angels surfaced, surprising the Saracens and giving residents enough time to organize their defense. This miracle is attributed to Saint Gerardo, at the time bishop of Potenza.
The little town of Accettura, population about 2500, hosts a Sagra del Maggio (May Chopping Festival), which just may be the oldest festival in all Italy. To make a long story short two trees are united in a marriage ceremony, one said to guarantee a rich harvest. The Maggio (male) is a tall oak, the Cima (female) or is the top of a holly tree with a lot of branches. The two trees are transported across town and then ceremoniously united. You will find similar festivals in many other local towns. Is this what they call a destination wedding?
I donít know about you but I didnít associate camels with southern Italy until recently. In the first week of May, the town of Tropea, population about 7 thousand, approximately 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Reggio di Calabria, holds its Camel festival which commemorates the local citizensí victory against the Saracens. Why the camel? The Saracen leader was condemned and burned with his soldiers after riding a camel down the streets of Tropea. Even if you canít make this festival you should visit Tropea. Itís a beautiful town with a fine beach and red onions famous all across Italy. They even make red onion ice cream. Iíll try almost anything once.
On the second Saturday of May†the village of Galatro, population 2 thousand, situated about 35 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of the regional capital holds the annual Olive Oil Festival. Stick around for open-air jazz that evening and move from olive oil to wine. The walled city of Badolato, population about 3 thousand, located on the eastern coast of Calabria hosts a Calabrian Renaissance Festival which is held right on local beaches. Youíll enjoy lots of activities including the Joust on Horseback, the Living Chess Game, Earthquest's Birds of Prey, the Sturdy Beggars Mud Show, and an improvisational comedy of Ask the Village Idiot. The costumes are just unbelievable.
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 Southern Italy