John Bensalhia tells a tale of June 2019 Italian events and festivals...

Hello Summertime!

The Summer season begins with a wealth of event treasures. With many occurring outdoors in the glorious sunshine, there's plenty to enjoy here. The magic of fairytale books and stories. The taste of fine foods and wines. The rolling of barrels...

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin with...

Festa Della Repubblica

Throughout Italy, 2nd June 2017

The country will come together to mark the 1946 Institutional Referendum, a notable event in Italian history.

The people of Italy were asked to vote for either a republic or a monarchy, with 12,717,923 million in favour of the former option. As this figure beat the 10,719,284 wanting a monarchy, this was a watershed moment. The annual event and national holiday became an official institution since 1948. Among the events held are the  laying of the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vittoriano in Rome. This event attracts a large amount of spectators, who gather to see the President of the Italian Republic and other important heads at this dignified ceremony.

Andersen Festival

Sestri Levante, 6th- 9thJune 2019

Life is one big fairytale. That's definitely the case this June in the region of Sestri Levante with the magic of the Andersen Festival.

The four-day event isn't just a great experience for kids, it's the chance for adults to revisit their childhoods. In the days before iPads, laptops and Smartphones, kids used to be enchanted by good old fashioned fairytale books. The likes of Hans Christian Andersen brought some magical characters to life which could be enjoyed in bookshops and libraries worldwide.

It's that sense of childhood wonder that makes the Andersen Festival such an appealing one. This event transfers the fairytale from the printed to the real world with consummate ease. Special performances are conjured up in both street and traditional theatres. In fact, the fairytale experience branches out beyond the streets to locations such as beaches, courtyards and alleyways. Other kinds of performance using music and circus motifs are guaranteed to bring in visitors.

And as an extra happy ending – entrances to the performances are free!

Evergreen Fest

Turin, 7thJune - 21stJuly 2019

The free events continue!

The Evergreen Fest runs along the same lines. An enjoyable series of performances and initiatives for all ages that can be enjoyed for free. The difference in this case is that it takes place in one location rather than several. Turin's Tesoriera Park is the place in question, and is set to host thousands of visitors in both June and July.

Another difference of the Evergreen Fest is that it broadens the spectrum of what visitors can experience. While there are enjoyable live performances of music, dance and theatre, visitors can also learn a number of new skills and discoveries. Gardening, pet therapies, children's workshops... Plus some great local food and drink to sample during the visit, which is well worth a look in this Summer.

Gola Gola Festival

Piacenza, 7th- 9thJune 2019

Next on the June Summer Event Menu is the Gola Gola Festival. Take one large dollop of food, mix in some special performances and artistic fun, and you have a recipe for success!

The Gola Gola Festival provides some first class food of the highest order. As well as the chance to sample the best in food and drink, Gola Gola serves up detailed background on the produce, adding some food for thought.

A wide range of happenings will be coming to this year's Gola Gola event. As well as market stalls and street food offering the finest Italian food and drink, visitors can get a taste of street foods. All ages can learn about the wonders of food. Adults can take some handy tips from live cooking demonstrations, while young ones can enter the special food laboratory. On top of this, musical performances add a tuneful flavour to this eagerly anticipated food and drink feast.

Wine Barrel Race

Nizza Monferrato, Asti, 8th- 9thJune 2019

In Britain – to be precise, London – there's a dirgey old tune called Roll Out The Barrel. While bellowed at top volume by tone deaf Cockneys, the principle at least applies to one of this month's picks: Nizza Monferrato's Wine Barrel Race.

The race is a tradition that dates back around 200 years. Ferrying barrels of wine to their destinations were livened up by turning them into a bit of a contest. Today's competitions are bigger in scale, with local wine producers and sellers bidding to be the fastest barrel rollers in the land.

It's quite a load to push – 100 kg – so, naturally, there are teams made up of four or five. These initially take part in heats, the victors of which make the semi-finals and finally... the final!

If barrel rolling isn't your mug of wine, don't worry, there's plenty to keep you entertained. Music, children's entertainment, markets, and a food and wine fair that serves up some delicious local delicacies.

ProsciutTiamo Ham Festival

Saint-Marcel, 14th- 16thJune 2019

Saint-Marcel is known for its unique brand of acclaimed seasoned ham. Such is its popularity, it can have a whole festival devoted to it that commands in excess of 9,000 attendees.

This enjoyable three-day event concentrates on the local ham, but also provides local food and drink to be sampled by visitors. The event takes place in a location rich in visuals and natural splendour. With that in mind, there are organised visits around the area. If you're planning on sticking around solely at the festival, then a musical backdrop for your ears only is being arranged.

Saint Rainerius’s Luminara

Pisa, 16th- 17thJune 2019

Italy is well known for it's spectacular light shows and the Pisa Luminara devoted to its patron saint, Rainerius, is no exception.

Brief history lesson. The death of Rainerius Scaccieri in the 17thcentury was marked by a massive event that celebrated his life. Part of the event was a special festival of lights. Everywhere the eye could see in Pisa, there were illuminations, courtesy of 100,000 small lamps mounted on wooden frames.

It's a celebration that continues today in mid-June, to mark the Pisa patron saint. As well as the lights, there's a firework display, a costumed historical parade and a palio that pits the four Pisa districts of San Francesco, San Martino, Santa Maria, and Sant’Antonio against each other.

Musicultura Festival

Macerata, 20th- 23rdJune 2019

You can't beat an Italian music festival in these pages, and Musicultura is no exception.

About to celebrate its 30thedition, Musicultura looks to discover the musical talents of tomorrow, while tipping the hat to established success stories from both Italy and overseas. Singer songwriters have been a major part of the Italian music scene, and this is an event that helps to continue that trend.

This year's festival will see appearances from performers including popular singer songwriter Daniele Silvestri, the official quintet of the Astor Piazzolla Foundation (Quinteto Astor Piazzolla), and Sananda Maitreya – formerly known as the classic '80s singer, Terence Trent D'Arby who scored with hits such as If You Let Me Stay, Sign Your Name and Wishing Well.

Taobuk Festival

Taormina, 21st- 25thJune 2019

Welcome to the world of literature. Or, as Taormina knows it, the popular Taobuk Festival. For five June days, the ninth edition of the festival extends the literary arena to many other spheres of culture such as journalism, film, theatre and music.

The reputation of Taobuk is enough to attract the cream of cultural and artistic talent, both from Italy and around the world. Attendees can enjoy a myriad of events including readings, workshops, discussions, exhibitions, performances, and more. Many locations hold these events, such as Teatro Antico, Palazzo Corvaja and Piazza IX Aprile.

This year's events comprise all-day sessions devoted to subjects such as Memory and Commitment: How much genius and madness count (21stJune); Publishing, Journalism, Culture Travel Between Time and Language (23rdJune) and Eros: The Digital and the Torment, Democracy and the 20th Century (25thJune).