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.
Babaluti, traditional worshipers in Sicily, Italy spring festival.
The island of Sicily lies to the southwest of southern Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. You may be surprised by the weather here, especially in early March. Donít expect to sip a coffee in a terrace by the seaside in the early spring. But by late March the wildflowers will be in bloom. By mid-May a beach outing is a real possibility. And itís strawberry season before the month is out.
The city of Modica, population about 55 thousand, on the southern coast is a UNESCO Heritage site along with its surroundings. Modica claims to have the best chocolate in all Italy since it was introduced by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s. On March 19 a bonfire burns all night long in front of the church of its patron saint, Saint George. On the 23rd of the month the city of Vittoria, population 60 thousand, near the southwestern coast presents the Feast of the Foundation, an exhibition of local wines. Two days later the city of Patti, population about 30 thousand, hosts the Annunziata's feast with a parade of little children dressed like angels and covered in gold. The last Friday of March the town of San Marco d'Alunzio, population 2 thousand, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Palermo in northern Sicily celebrates the Festa della Crocifisso in which a solemn procession of thirty three hooded worshippers called Babaluti carry a Crucifix.
The town of Cerda, population about 5 thousand, some 25 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Palermo is proud to host the Festival of the Artichoke on April 25. Look for special artichoke dishes on the menu of local restaurants as well as folklore displays. If you like cheese go to the village of Buscemi, population just over one thousand, located some 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Syracuse for its Sacre de Ricotta (Ricotta Festival) on the last weekend of the month, which honors their local sheepís milk cheese. This is no ordinary marketing festival; the locals make fresh ricotta in huge vats over open fires and then everybody gets in line for warm ricotta served with freshly baked bread. There are brass bands and traditional hand-painted Sicilian carts in the background.
The island complex of Favignana, population about 4500, a short hydrofoil ride from the western coast of Sicily is known for its tuna. On the second Sunday of May catch their tuna-fish fry. You say you wonít be tempted by their tuna fish; thereís a lot of other fish and seafood in these parts. About a week later go to the city of Trecastagni, population 9 thousand, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Palermo for the Sant'Alfio Procession of Costumes and Carts in honor of three saints. On the fourth Sunday in May, the city of Casteltermini, population about 9 thousand, some 45 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Palermo hosts the Taratata Fair which includes costumes, cavalcades, and the reenacting of historic battles the Normans and Arabs. Donít miss the Ballo del Taratata, a menís only dance with long swords and beating drums. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Sicilian 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 Sicily