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.
Tulip Festival, Castiglione del Lago, Umbria, Italy.
Umbria is the only region of Italy that has no seacoast and borders no foreign country. But is a great place to visit, especially in springtime. Many of its cities and towns are medieval and often are in the hills. Early March may be chilly, but before long you will enjoy the spring. The capital and largest city, Perugia, hosts the Umbria Wine Festival in the second half of March. Look for Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG and Torgiano DOCG reds, the first of which may be passito (sweet). On March 20 and 21 go to Norcia, a small town of about 5 thousand, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Terni for the Feast of St. Benedict, the townís Patron Saint. On the first evening a torch originating in a selected European capital arrives in town and is welcomed by many European ambassadors. The following day is a medieval celebration.
The city of Castiglione del Lago, population 15 thousand, about 30 miles (45 kilometers) holds a Sagra Del Tulipano (Tulip Festival) in mid-April. There are floats and a historical procession to honor the Duke of Ascanio Corgna, a local bigwig from the Renaissance days. City neighborhoods compete for the Palio (banner). You may want to taste Duca della Corgna wine with local food specialties and youíll enjoy the majorettes and folkloric ballet.
Gubbio Ceri Festival, Umbria, Italy.
The city of Terni, population 110 thousand, 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Rome holds the Umbria Jazz Gospel & Soul Easter Festival in late April. This festival centers on Afro-American gospel music but includes more contemporary music such as soul, funk, rhythm and blues, and good old jazz. Many concerts are held in the Cathedral and other beautiful churches. Towards the end of the month go to the city of Narni, population 20 thousand, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Orvieto for the Corsa allíAnello a competition honoring their Patron Saint Giovanale in which traditionally dressed (weíre talking about the Middle Ages) competitors try to run a spear through a ring. The previous night thereís a huge, costumed parade.
The city of Assisi, population about 25 thousand, approximately 15 miles (25 kilometers) east of Perugia holds the National Antique Trade Fair starting about the 20th of April and running into the first week of May. This is one fine antique show and one great tourist city attracting several million tourists annually. I donít have to tell you that the crowds are more manageable in spring than in summer. In mid-May beautiful Lake Piediluco, dominated by the ruins of the medieval fortress and its walls, hosts the Paolo D'Aloja Memorial International Rowing Regatta opening the international rowing season. Many world and Olympic champions compete.
The city of Gubbio, population 33 thousand, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Perugia hosts the Ceri Race Festival on May 15, the eve of the anniversary of the death of its patron St. Ubaldo. Young people carry three gigantic wooden structures weighing about 400 kilos (about 900 pounds) on their shoulders from the historic town center to the top of Mount Ingino. An enthusiastic crowd cheers them on. This is one emotional religious event. The Ceri of Gubbio have been adopted as the coat-of-arms for the Region of Umbria. You can finish the month (May 28) at the crossbow Palio, a target-shooting contest with medieval fixed crossbows between Gubbio and the Tuscan city of San Sepolcro. Do I need mention that the competitors and others wear historical costumes? After the contest a grand procession winds through the torch-lit streets. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Umbrian 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 Umbria