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.
Iris garden of Florence, only open for three weeks.
What can be more magical than Tuscany in spring? I donít want to disappoint you, but if youíre talking about early spring, such as the beginning of March, you may find the weather chilly. Of course there are plenty of things to see and to do, and before long the weather should take a turn for the better.
On the second weekend of March the great city of Firenze (Florence), population about 350 thousand within a metropolitan area of 1.5 million, hosts the Oleum, an Olive Festival held in the Sixteenth Century fortress Fortezza da Basso. If you miss this festival stop by the Fortezza anyway. Itís something to see and thereís often a exhibition in progress. On the 18th of March the small town of Anghiari, population about 6 thousand, celebrates the Feast of Gambellaio, in which men offer all passersby delicious sausages. The only problem is no hands are allowed; you have to grab them directly into your mouth. Afterwards come Brustichino, a polenta (corn bread) with grilled sausages. The beautiful village of Montefioralle in the Chianti area of Tuscany holds a Frittelle Festival on the Sunday after St Peter's day (March 19th). In case you didnít know, frittelle are fried rice cakes. These frittelle are prepared in a huge cauldron of oil in the historic town center. And take a close look at Montefioralle; it is one of the finest surviving examples of rural village medieval architecture in Tuscany.
The kids will love this park in Collodi, Tuscany.
The little town of Panzano, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of Florence, celebrates the coming of spring on April 25 with its Festa della Stagion Buona, (they call it the good season and who can argue with them?). This includes a parade of citizens dressed in traditional costumes of the Renaissance, a medieval market, and lots more. Panzano is situated in the Chianti province of Tuscany so you wonít have trouble finding fine wine to go with the local food specialties. For a change of pace visit the city of Cortona, population about 20 thousand, located some 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Florence. On the fourth weekend of April it hosts the National Copper Works Fair with artistic exhibitors from many regions of Italy. The town of Torre del Lago, population about 11 thousand, hosts its annual Puccini Spring Festival during the final week of April in its open-air theater near where Puccini lived and worked.
One of Firenzeís secrets is the Iris Garden of Florence, a former olive grove on the east slope of the lofty Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking the city. In addition to the hybrid iris collection youíll see ancient trees and a great view of Florence and its surroundings. This garden is only open from May 2 until May 20.
The city of Pescia celebrates Pinocchio's Birthday on May 25th, but you might want to celebrate it at the Pinocchio Park in the city of Collodi, named for the author who died unaware of the eventual success of this famous childrenís story. On the final weekend of the month Cortona celebrates the Archidado Games commemorating an upper-class late Fourteenth-Century marriage. Youíll see townspeople dressed in traditional costumes and appreciate the religious ceremonies and processions on Saturday and the crossbow competitions pitting neighborhoods against each other on Sunday. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Tuscany 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 Tuscany