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.
Brissogne Castle, Val d'Aosta.
Val díAosta is a tiny, bilingual (Italian and French speaking) enclave in the northeast corner of Italy on the border with France and Switzerland. This is Alp country so bring your winter clothes and your ski gear. The upscale ski resort of Courmayeur, population under three thousand, is located near Mount Blanc. On the third Saturday of March Courmayeur hosts a leg of the Italian Winter Triathalon whose participants compete in foot racing, mountain biking and skiing. Towards the end of the month the village of Gaby, population about 500, hosts a traditional festival featuring local gastronomic specialities. Gaby is located in the middle of Lys Valley at the foot of two important mountain passes (Colle della Vecchia and Colle Mologna). Expect something different from your run of the mill Italian festivals because Gaby has a strong Germanic influence. Would you expect an Italian village to be trilingual?
Do you see any cows in this pasture?
In April the village of Brissogne, population about one thousand, holds its annual Rebatta Competition in which a large spiked ball is balanced on the end of a pipe and tossed for quite some distance. Another local game is featured in the Tsan Competition held in the small town of Pollein, population about 1500. This game is said to resemble a rudimentary version of baseball, presumably without a designated hitter. The small town of Hone whose population is less than 1200 holds a Feast to honor its patron San Giorgio on April 23. Thatís the same Saint George who is patron saint of English but they do the celebrations differently here.
In early May the small town of Nus, population about 2500, celebrates two local wines Rouge and Malvoisie as well as specialty wines that are vinified from dried grapes. This festival includes folklore performances, a costumed parade and an outdoor banquet featuring local food and the new wines. Other events include a free dinner, dancing, and activities for children. In the interest of full disclosure, this is not an event steeped in local traditions. It was launched by local winemakers about forty years ago. But it still should be quite enjoyable.
This is not all that is happening in Val díAosta during the month of May. The small town of Donnas, population about 3000, holds its annual Spring Festival. The village of Issime whose population numbers about 400 holds a Cow Battle. Starting in the middle of the month and running until mid-September, in the small town of Issogne, population about 1400, the Castle hosts a local costume exhibition. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Val d'Aosta 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 Val d'Aosta, Italy