Spring is a lovely time of year to visit Tuscany, the weather isn’t too overwhelmingly hot, the crowds of tourists still haven’t peaked and the range of events is enough to keep anyone busy. Not only can you enjoy the Easter celebrations, but there are also fantastic carneval celebrations at Viareggio and other towns around Florence, Music concerts and dance performances among others. The traditional “sagra” also begin once again- typical celebrations of certain types of food and drink, local to the area.


Many Tuscan towns have Carnival celebrations around 10 days up to Shrove Tuesday, most of which feature parades of elaborate floats, fancy dress parties and excessive eating and drinking. In Florence, children dress up and parade with their parents in the Piazzas and along the riverbanks, scattering confetti and squirting foam. Elsewhere in Tuscany, head for Borgo San Lorenzo for kids’ events and street performances, Calenzano for medieval revellers or to San Gimignano for general festivities.

The Viareggio Carnival
Tel: 0584 962 568
Website: The Viareggio Carnevale
Date: 4 consecutive Sundays from February till early March.

The Viareggio Carnevale is amongst the most famous in Italy apart from Venice. Appealing to all age groups, the first three parades begin mid afternoon. The last begins about 5.30pm and finishes around 9.30pm. The latter, an over-the-top procession of gigantic floats, often lampooing political and public figures, is rounded off with a fireworks display and prize giving ceremony for the best floats. You can also buy tickets at booths from around the town from 8am on the day, or otherwise, phone in advance.

Moda Pelle by Pitti Immagine
Stazione Leopolda
Website: Moda Pelle
Date: during March (annual)

Florence’s Stazione Leopolda has staged over ten editions of the leather industry preview show ModaPelle by Pitti Immagine. The show gives you previews of hides, fabrics and accessories used by the major clothing and fashion houses. Approximately 100 exhibitors from Finland, France, England, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Portugal and Spain, as well as the most important Italian brands, participate in the event.

Camellias in the Boboli Gardens
Giardino di Boboli, Pitti Palace
Date: during March (annual)

The major Camellia collection in the spectacular Boboli gardens that overhang Florence is closely tended all year round. When the the flowers blossom in March, the gardens are opened to the public for guided visits.

Festa della Donna
Date: 8 March

Italy makes a big fuss of the International Women’s Day. Traditionally women are given bunches of yellow mimosa, whilst in the evening, restaurants and clubs (many of which out on male strippers) are full of girly gangs in the search of fun out on the town……..

Holy Week
Date: the week before Easter

Many small Tuscan towns celebrate Holy Week with religious processions, often in Renaissance costume. More important ones include Buonconvento (near Siena), Castiglion Fiorentino (near Arezzo) and Bagno a Ripoli (near Florence). In Grassina and San Gimignano, re-enactments of episodes from the life of Christ are staged on Good Friday.

Lo Scoppio del Carro
Piazzale del Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo
Website: Lo Scoppio del Carro
Date: Easter Sunday

As part of a tradition that goes back centuries, the whole city of Florence congregates in Piazza del Duomo on Easter Sunday for the Explosion of the Cart, a ritual that is believed to bring the city good luck. Today the celebration of the ceremony still bears a strong resemblance to the way it has been celebrated for centuries. It starts at Via del Prato, from where an enormous cart (30 foot high) carrying fireworks and driven by two white oxen, decorated with flowers, depart for the Church of the Apostoli; there the holy fire is lit and then taken to the Duomo in Piazza San Giovanni. The cart is accompanied by costumed revellers and musicians and various city officials.

During Easter mass, the Archbishop lights a dove-shaped rocket, called the “Colombina”, which then flies out of the famous Duomo on a wire and ignites the wooden cart-structure in the square outside. The cart then ignites, sparks and all the fireworks are let off one by one. Cracking and smoke fills the air all around and bits of wood fly off the cart as it slowly explodes. The event is spectacular (even if slightly deafening) and admission is free!

National Kite-Flying Championship
San Miniato, Tuscany
Tel: 0571 42 745 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0571 42 745 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Date: the week after Easter

These are the National championships where Italians fly kites not only to show them off but also to win and become the Italian champion.

International Arts and Crafts Fair
Fortezza da Basso, Florence
Opening Hours:10am-11pm
Date: April – May (annual)

Tradition and innovation come together each year at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence for one of the most important European arts and crafts fairs. This fair in now in its 68th year and usually attracts around 200,000 visitors.

Artigianato e Palazzo (Artisans and the Palace)
Palazzo Corsini, Florence
Cost: Free
Opening Hours:10am-9pm
Date: May (annual)

Artigianato e Palazzo is a three-day fair in Florence that displays the arts and crafts of traditional artisans from all over Italy, held in the beautiful gardens of the Palazzo Corsini. During the fair the artisans prepare their stands as open-air workshops, where they demonstrate their skills in pottery, the making of straw hats and willow baskets, glass cutting, the various techniques of restoring a tapestry or a precious piece of furniture, and more. The great success of this exhibition is due to the fact that it is not just a fair or bazaar, but a continuous demonstration of the skills of each craftsman.

Guided tours of the garden are conducted throughout the three days and an open-air restaurant serves traditional Tuscan food, snacks and drinks from morning to sunset.

International Iris Show
Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
Date: May (annual)

In May every year, gardeners from all over the world flock to Florence’s Piazzale Michelangelo, as the renowned Giardino dell’Iris opens its gates to the public and hosts the international Iris competition of the year. Individual blooms are judged on the basis of their colour, shape, aroma and resistance to various diseases (!), and a special prize goes to the specimen which most closely resembles the Iris in the coat of arms of the city itself.

Fabbrica Europa
Stazione Leopolda
Opening Hours: Various
Tel: 055 263 8480 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 055 263 8480 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Website: Fabbrica Europa
Date: during May (annual)

Dance, theatre, music, DJs and visual arts from all over the world congregate in Florence’s old Stazione Leopolda for the well-known Fabbrica Europa. The festival has been growing in notoriety in the past few years and now attracts well-known theatre companies, DJs and musicians. Music is also a big part of the festival, with shows ranging from classical piano to African vibes. For a full programme see the festival website.

Settimana dei Beni Culturali
Florence and throughout Tuscany
Tel: 055 290 832 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 055 290 832 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Date: 1st week early Spring

State museums, including the Uffizi, Accademia and Palatina galleries all open their doors free for a week.

Mostra Mercato di Pianti e Fiori
Giardino di Orticultura, Via Vittorio Emmanuele 4, Florence
Tel: 055 290 832 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 055 290 832 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Date: around 25 April-1 May, 6 and 7th October
This is a spectacular plant and flower show, which is centered around a grand 19th Century glass house. The event attracts growers from all around the area.

Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Teatro Comunale, Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Tel: 055 211 158 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 055 211 158 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Opening Hours: Most evening performances at 8.30pm
Website: Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Date: April – June (annual)

The oldest music festival in Italy, and one of the most famous, the Maggio Musicale in Florence was founded in 1933. In addition to its opera productions, it plays host to international orchestras, ballet and opera companies, with a line-up few other festivals can rival. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is a two month long festival with opera, concerts and ballet featuring international artists. It closes with two free jamborees (a ballet and a concert) in Piazza della Signoria.

Paglio- horse race – di Magliano
Magliano, Maremma
Tel: 0564 59341 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0564 59341 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Date: during the 1st week of May

Though the Palio (horse race) no longer takes place, this little town in the Maremma still holds an intimate version of the torch lit procession that used to be part of the ritual blessing of the horses on the night before the race.

Mille Miglia
Various parts of Italy including Florence
Tel: 030 280 036 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 030 280 036 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Website: Mille Miglia
Date: Saturday in May (depends when Easter falls)

The 1,000 miles (1,600 Km) refers to a race undertaken each yearby no less than 350 vintage cars. The race starts and finishes in Brescia, northern Italy. You can catch the Florence leg on Saturday Afternoon.

Festa del Lavoro
Date: 1st May

Not just celebrated in Tuscany but all over the country, “The day of the worker” is a national holiday. There are local celebrations and, in recent years, free rock concerts with national and international names.

Festa del Grillo
Parco delle Cascine, Florence
Date: Sunday, late May,early June

This ancient symbolic event The Festival of the Cricket has unfortunately become an excuse for a big general market. The festival replaced the earlier May-day celebrations of the Florentine Calendimaggio, which is no longer celebrated. The current celebration dates back to the 19th century, when the whole population of Florence used to take part. Children used to chase crickets, and shrewd small-time merchants soon spotted the market for “lucky” singing crickets in cages, giving the festival the theme and the name that it still carries today The crickets that were once sold in hand painted cages (intended also to woo sweethearts and cheer them up through separations) have now been replaced by mechanical versions due to pressure from animal rights activists. It is still good fun for kids however.

This busy ‘festival’ stars not only the aforementioned crickets, but also stalls selling food and sweets of various kinds and various musical shows and entertainment throughout the day.

Cantine Aperte Toscana
All over Tuscany
Tel: 0577 738 312 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0577 738 312 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Website: Cantine Aperte
Date: last Sunday in May

Wine producing estates, many of which aren’t normally open to the public, hold tastings fo their produce…

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Commenti (1) | March 8, 2010

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