July festivals

Florence Dance Festival
Teatro Romano, Fiesole
Tel: 055 289 276
Date: 2 weeks in July

An excellent dance festival featuring performers from all over Europe etc.

Estate Musicale Chigiana
Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena
For more information: 0577 22091
Website: Estate Musicale Chigiana
Date: July-August

Siena’s summer concert season with performances in the city and nearby abbeys of San Galgano, Sant’Animo and Monte Oliveto Maggiore. The highlight is the Settimana Musicale Senese (usually mid July); a week of concerts in Siena’s churches.

Giostra dell’Orso
Tel: 0573 21622
Date: 25 July

Pistoia’s annual “Bear fight” culminates on 25th July in its main square after a month of concerts and pageantry. The Joust of the Bear dates back to the 14th Century: 12 knights are pitted against a bear (two wooden dummies) dressed in a checked cloak, there is normally traditional food served.

Incontri in Terra di Siena
La Foce, Chianciano Terme
For more information: 0578 69101
Date: 10 days in late July

These top-notch chamber music concerts are performed internationally renowned musicians in dramatic settings such as La Foce (the family estate of writer Iris Origo), Pienza, Cetona and Radicofana.

Batignano Opera Festival
Batignano, near Grosseto
Tel: 0564 462 611 (Grosseto tourist information office)
Date: July to August

Little known opera productions with well-known musicians in an idyliic hilltop village.

Puccini Opera Festival
Torre di Lago, Lucca
Tel: 0584 359 322
Website: Puccini Opera Festival
Date: last week of July

Standards of performance aren’t always high, nevertheless Puccini’s lakeside villa is certainly a magnificent setting for his operas. The stage is built over the lake while the audience sits on the shore.

Palio di Siena
Piazza del Campo, Siena
Information: 0577 280 551
Website: Palio di Siena
Date: 2 July and 16 August

This controversial, often Palio, or violent horse race, around Siena’s main piazza is Tuscan pageantry at its best. Trial races run on three days leading to the two main dates. The last is at 9am on the big days. In the early afternoon qualifying horses and jockeys (both in traditional costume) are blessed in their team’s church. At about 4.30pm the procession enters the Piazza del Campo and, after acrobatic flag throwing, the race runs at about 7pm. Its free to stand in the square, but get there early! Tickets for seats in balconies overlooking the Piazza are sold in bars and cafes around the Piazza. Be warned, however, they are hard to come by and quite expensive but it is worth it!

Effetto Venezia
Tel: 0586 2046 11
Date: 10 dates in late July and August

Evening shows and concerts in Livorno’s “Venetian Quarter”- so called because of its canals. Restaurants stay open late serving local delicacies.

Medieval Festival
Monteriggione, Arezzo
Tel: 0577 304 810
Date: mid July

The medieval festival is a re-enactment of Monteriggione medieval town life with food and drink and craft stalls, music and dancing, shops and performances typical of that era. Action focuses around the third weekend of July, but there are events during the ten days before. Torches are lit after dark and visitors must change their cash into medieval currency if they want to participate.

On the Road Festival
Pelago, Florence
Date: 1st weekend (Thursday-Sunday) mid to late July

This is a festival of street performers and action kicks off at around 6pm.

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