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Top 5 Summer Festivals in Italy

In Northern Europe we love festivals, outdoor concerts and events – but just don’t have the weather for it. Italy, on the other hand, is perfect for large and spectacular open air events. Think about it – they have the weather, the aesthetics, and even the food at your average Italian festival is something to be swooned over!

Here’s our top 5 annual Summer events in Italy:

1) The Notte Rosa – The Adriatic Riviera

The Notte Rosa in Rimini

The Notte Rosa in Rimini

The Notte Rosa or Pink Night is subtitled the summer’s New Year’s Eve party for good reason – it has that frenetic appeal to it, where everybody – young and old – feels the urge to join in the party. It runs all along the Adriatic Riviera on a given Saturday at the start of July. Towns like Rimini deck themselves out with pink lights, pink decorations, pink hot-air balloons etc, to get in the spirit.  Like the famous White Nights organised in European cities like Paris or Rome,  the idea is to create a safe and pleasant environment for friends, families, tourists, and in particular women (hence the pink theme) to enjoy themselves partying through the night. Bars, shops and restaurants stay open all night and at midnight there is a spectacular synchronised fireworks display along the 110km of coastline including towns like Ravenna, Rimini, Riccione and Cattolica.

There are free open-air concerts featuring some of the best Italian artists including names like Fiorella Mannoia, Franco Battiato, Vinicio Caposella, Mau Mau and many more. The wonder of it all is that you, outside of Italy, may not of heard of the event – given that an estimated 2 million people participated in the 2009 event!

For more info – La Notte Rosa

2) The Italia Wave Festival – Livorno

This is a must for fans of indie rock and dance music. This innovative festival, which started out in the Tuscan town of Arezzo, before moving briefly to Florence and then on to its current base of Livorno, has played host to some of the biggest names in international independent music.

The festival puts together local and national acts alongside the best in international acts, and all in a festival that has a unique atmosphere not to be found anywhere else on the planet.

Why the unique atmosphere? Well, because many of the events are completly free. The idea is that you can sample great new music alongside established acts. You pay for the big concerts (this year’s headliners were Placebo, Kraftwerk, and Aphex Twin), but get to see plenty of other acts in the meantime. There are also  lots of peripheral events which keep the port city of Livorno buzzing.

For more info – Italia Wave Foundation

3) Estate Romana – Rome

When the temperatures rise during the summer, the big Italian cities suffer an exodus, as people head from their homes to the seaside or the mountains. It’s a tradition that dates back to the pre-air-conditioning days, and one that’s hard to counter. As a result the major cities all have various initiatives to try to make their cities more attractive to residents and tourists alike during the hot months.

Rome’s initiative, Estate Romana, is one such program and one that has had great success over recent years – partly due to the fact that Rome is wonderful to visit at any time, and partly due to the fact that so many top-class events are organised.  The events range from big concerts from visiting international stars, through to guided tours of Rome’s ruins by moonlight, art exhbitions, and special events for children.

For more info – Estate Romana

4) The Verona Opera Festival

Years ago, while inter-railing, I arrived by chance in Verona during the opera festival. Without money (or a specific interest – I’m no Opera buff) I contented myself with sitting outside the magnificent Roman amphitheatre (built in 30 AD) watching the elegantly dressed crowd pass by  in the warm  summer evening. It was a magical atmosphere – and that was just outside!

Setting up for the Verona Opera Festival

Setting up for the Verona Opera Festival

Years later I managed to attend a performance of Aida in the amphitheatre – sitting in the cheap seats (tip, bring a cushion – because not only are the stone seats hard on your behind, they soak up the heat during the day and by evening time are fit to fry eggs on!). It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experience, regardless of whether or not you’re an opera fan (in fact, if it’s really not your thing you can check for rock concerts or musicals also held during the summer, ranging from acts like The Who, Pearl Jam, and Italian rocker Ligabue, through to big productions like The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

For more info – The Verona Arena

5) The Turin Traffic Free Festival

Turin is a city that often gets overlooked on the traditional Italian tours, where tourists head to Venice, Florence, Milan and Rome – which is a shame because this beautiful city overlooking the Alps has so much to offer. Aside from its architecture, history, and sport (it’s home to two top-class football teams after all, Juventus and Torino), during the summer it’s home to Italy’s biggest free music festival.

This year, for example, over 100,000 people flocked to the city to see free concerts by the likes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Underworld, Ladytron and Primal Scream. Beautiful city, beautiful festival – go there!

For more info – Traffic Free Festival

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