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 spring vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, and sometimes sports. Italian spring holidays have several advantages: You won’t fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find, and every region has its own spring festivals. When we say spring, we mean March to May; spring comes early in much of Italy. Start organizing your Italian spring holidays now. Keep reading.
The small region of Abruzzi of central Italy lies on the Adriatic Sea. It’s quite traditional and is a good place to see the “real” Italy. Here early spring is likely to be fairly chilly, and late spring can resemble summer. March 19 is the Festa di San Giuseppe's (Saint Joseph’s Day), celebrated in many parts of Italy including Abruzzi. The village of Rocca Pia, home to about 200 people, holds a religious ceremony complete with a traditional meal of beans and pork rind. In the small town of Fara San Martino, population 1600, the focus is on a huge bonfire. The village of Civitella Alfedena, population some 300, lies in the heart of the beautiful Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise that covers three regions and englobes some two dozen municipalities. On March 26 it holds an Exhibition of arts and popular traditions.
On the first Thursday in May the village of Cocullo, home to about 300, hosts a Snake Handlers' Procession in which a statue of St. Dominic, the town's patron, covered with live serpents is carried through the town. Thousands of people follow this solemn procession through the village, accompanied by a band. Some people have come for the snakes and others for the fireworks and subsequent banquet. There is even a breakfast at the foot of the hill.
San Zopito, Abruzzi spring festival
The city of Pratola Peligna, population some 8 thousand, hosts The Festival of the Madonna della Libera in early May. This festival involves thousands of people, especially on the weekends. The streets are specially lit and brass bands play all day. Food specialties include hot porchetta and warm roasted peanuts. Major highlights include the welcoming of the pilgrims who walk 42 km from the small town of Gioia de Marsi and the procession of La Madonna’s statue from the church through the town’s historic streets. On Saturday night there’s a spectacular fireworks display.
The last Sunday in May the small town of Rocca di Mezzo, population 1500, holds a daffodil festival attracting thousands of people who have come to greet the spring. Saturday night the wagons are festooned with thousands of daffodils. Sunday afternoon they parade through the town. Unlike many other Abruzzi festivals this one is not rooted in time immemorial. It was started in 1947 by soldiers returning from World War.
The medieval town of Loreto Aprutino, population about 7,500, hosts the Festa di San Zopito to honor their patron saint on the Monday after Pentecost, for example on May 24, 2010. Please note, given the complexity of the Easter calendar, this festival may be in summer, for example on June 12, 2011. According to tradition, in 1711 the remains of the Christian martyr Zopito were in transport from the catacombs of San Callisto in Rome. A farmer tending his fields failed to stop working and pay his respects to the passing procession. But his white ox genuflected in front of the statue of the saint and the urn. The villagers were really impressed and since then every year a white ox is trained to kneel and gets 40 days off from working in the fields. A young child dressed as an angel, holding a red carnation in his mouth and sporting a lace umbrella, sits atop the adorned ox as it wends its way through the medieval streets stopping and genuflecting at every church. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Abruzzi or other Italian 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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Spring events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Abruzzi