Donít 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 wonít 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.
Apulia, also known as Puglia, is a long thin region of southern Italy facing on the Adriatic Sea. Because it is in the south, spring comes here fairly early. On March 19 the town of Cisternino about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Brindisi hosts the Festival of the Gnemerlidde held 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 holds celebrations based on local food specialties rooted in the populationís Albanian origins.
I bet my money on the bobtail ox.
April 23 is the feast of San Giorgio. In the costal town of Chieuti e Scalo, population 2 thousand, you can enjoy the ox-cart race pitting the townís five neighborhoods against one another. You can get an idea of the raceís importance when you consider that preparations start in October of the preceding year. Each cart is spotted by a horse and rider followed by three additional horsemen, all in the interests of safety. The winner leads a parade to the town cathedral and the celebration continues well into the evening. By the way, this is a bilingual activity, Italian and Albanese, the local version of Albanian.
The city of Locorotondo, population about 14 thousand, also celebrates San Giorgio, but in two-day long festivities starting on April 22. Their celebrations include sports and gastronomical events. You might want to try the dry or sparkling white wines that carry the townís name. On the subject of about sports events, the town of Acquaviva delle Fonti, population 20 thousand, hosts the Marathon of the Mediterranean on the fourth Saturday of April. Applications are accepted.
The region capital Bari, population over 300 thousand, celebrates the Feast of Saint Nicholas, starting on May 7th and running through the weekend commemorating the return of the Saintís relics to Bari in 1807. On festival Saturday a parade in traditional costumes departs from the Twelfth Century Norman Svevo Castle to the Saintís Basilica. The next evening another parade wends its way through torchlit streets carrying a statue of the saint to a floating altar in a fishing boat. Unlike many other festivals, this one does not revolve around food. Marchers are issued a roll. But that doesnít stop them from participating and shouldnít stop you from enjoying the festivities. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Apulia 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 Apulia