Planning a trip to Italy in the Spring? Here are a few events and sites not to miss.

Trofeo Marzocco, Florence – May 1

Those who like historic re-enactments shouldn’t miss the tournament of flag-wavers known as Trofeo Marzocco, held in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria on May 1, Labor Day in Italy, a national holiday.

The name of this event originated during the Florentine Republic, when the ‘Marzocco’ was a lion symbol of the people’s power; it was often depicted in city emblems and heraldic coats of arms.

The Corteo Storico della Repubblica Fiorentina (Historical Parade of the Florentine Republic) will accompany the groups participating in the tournament, on their way to Piazza della Signoria, along the streets of Florence’s historic center. The sound of drums will accompany the launch of the flags, offering the public an evocative spectacle of other times.

Gelato Festival, Florence/Rome/Turin/Milan – April/May

The Gelato Festival 2018 kicks off in Florence the weekend of April 20-22. The event takes place at Piazzale Michelangelo, where 16 of the best artisan gelatieri (gelato chefs) in Italy will present their specialties, available for the public to taste. This event also launches the Gelato Festival World Masters 2021, which will see the best gelato chefs in the world compete, through several challenges around the world to win the title of gelato world champion. The Gelato Festival continues in Rome from April 28-May 1 at Villa Borghese, in Turin on May 5-6 and Milan 12-13 May.

Cherry trees blooming in Rome

The arrival of Spring coincides with the blooming of cherry trees and there are many places in Italy where to see this natural show, one of them being Rome. A park with 1,000 cherry trees was donated in 1959 by the Japanese prime minister of the time during a diplomatic visit. It is the Parco Lago dell’Eur, in the EUR area. In the spring, the cherry trees turn pink and it is possible to organize picnics dressed in traditional Japanese costumes.

Infiorata, May/June

In many Italian cities, May and beginning of June mark the time of the Infiorata, a festival of floral art. Flower petals cover the historic centers, creating splendid works of art in the streets or in abbeys. One of the most famous Infiorata events takes place in the Baroque town of Noto, in south-eastern Sicily, usually on the third Sunday in May, along elegant Via Nicolaci, a street that is 122 meters long and 7 meters large, therefore especially suitable to display a spectacular blanket of flowers.

Garden of Augustus, Capri

The Gardens of Augustus in Capri are a must visit in spring. They were built in the early 20th century by the German steel industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp, on land he had purchased. These botanical gardens feature local plants and other ornamental plants, arranged in flowered terraces, where fragrant and colorful flowers stand out against the deep blue of the sea. From the terraces of the Gardens of Augustus, the views over the Faraglioni of Capri, Marina Piccola, Punta Cannone, Monte Solaro and Via Krupp are breathtaking. Nearby Via Krupp descends from the Gardens of Augustus to the bay of Marina Piccola, a pedestrian street in stone that is one of the most famous in Capri for its scenic views.

Artichoke Festival, Brisighella (Emilia-Romagna) – May 6 and 13

Spring is artichoke season and there are many sagre in Italy to celebrate this product that is typical of the Mediterranean area. One to signal takes place in the beautiful medieval village of Brisighella, in the hills of Romagna. The Sagra del Carciofo Moretto, this year on 6 and 13 May, has numerous stands offering the carciofo grown locally, and also products of the local craft. Menus based on this variety of artichoke, which has remained unaltered through the years, are also on offer.

Focaccia di Recco Festival, Recco (Liguria), May

Focaccia is a specialty of Liguria, which celebrates the focaccia di Recco in the town of the same name (province of Genoa), on May 28. A local delicacy and a symbol of Ligurian cuisine, it will be on offer for free on the many stands in the streets and on the piazzas. Focaccia di Recco is simple yet difficult to emulate, made with flour, fresh cheese, extra virgin olive oil, water, salt and the craftsmanship of the local ‘focacciai’ (focaccia makers). Live music, folk exhibitions, and games will contribute to the fun.