Whatever your taste in music, Italy has a wide range of festivals throughout the country, throughout the year. John Bensalhia provides a list of some of the top music festivals for different types of genre...

Jazz

What? Umbria Jazz Festival
Where? Perugia, Orvieto
When? July for the main festival; December and January for the Winter festival

The Umbria Jazz Festival began in 1973, taking jazz music from the small clubs into the town squares of Umbria. The festival would have the ability to attract around 20,000 visitors. Although the annual festival disappeared in 1978, four years later it reappeared – this time around, there was greater emphasis on the music rather than its unique selling point of drawing in mass crowds.

Since 1982, the Umbria Jazz Festival has taken place in the medieval centre of the town of Perugia. The 10-day festival offers something for everyone in the way of jazz, from the traditional sounds through to more modern takes on the genre. As in keeping with the early days, most of the concerts are free, and as a bonus, there is now a winter festival which acts as a counterpart to the annual July event. This takes place in Orvieto.

The festival commands a great deal of respect and acclaim, and has boasted a large number of high profile stars during the last 38 years. The festival has paid host to the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, Pat Metheny and Enrico Pieranunzi to name but five. It continues to thrive and grow, with the next Winter Festival set to begin on December 28th 2011.

Classical

What? Music Fest Perugia
Where? Perugia
When? August

Music Fest Perugia boasts two weeks worth of classical performances in a number of historical surroundings such as Sala dei Notari, the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and the Caio Melisso. The concerts are performed by both renowned professional musicians and their students.

The musicians include the likes of Zvi Carmeli, conductor of the Perugia Festival Orchestra, Gary Graffman, pianist and opera singer Daniella Lugassy. The events range from piano marathons through to orchestra/piano celebrations of Mendelssohn, Chopin and Shostakovich through to opera recitals.

Music Fest Perugia is a great opportunity to see some of the well-known classical music performers while affording a glimpse of some of tomorrow's promising stars.

Folk

What? Folkest
Where? Spilimbergo
When? July

Folkest is a veteran of the folk music festival scene, dating all the way back to 1979. It adopted the name Folkest five years later in 1984 and is a great ambassador for the promotion of folk music. However, the festival has also branched out into other spheres and now encompasses a wide multicultural range of music from all ethnicities.

The wide range of acts invited to the show include Francesco De Gregori, Angelo Branduardi and Sergio Cammariere from Italy. The festival has also attracted a large number of overseas acts including Jethro Tull, Loreena McKennitt, Moya Brennan, Miriam Makeba and The Chieftains.

Opera

What? Rossini Opera Festival
Where? Pesaro
When? August

The Rossini Opera Festival is an annual event that celebrates the life and works of Gioachino Rossini. The festival takes place normally for around two weeks in the middle of August and not only performs the music of, but studies the musical heritage of Rossini. The festival began in 1980, and from 1994, was legally denominated a Foundation.

The latest festival to take place has included a diverse number of performances and events. These have included lectures (including one on The Barber Of Seville), film premières, musical performances and a closing concert. The festival is a great success and has spawned a number of books, CDs and DVDs connected with the event.

Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro

Heavy Metal

What? Gods Of Metal
Where? Milan
When? June

For those who like nothing better than a bit of head banging and air guitar, the Gods Of Metal event is the festival for you. This is regarded as the biggest metal festival in Italy and has been in existence for 14 years.

Gods Of Metal lives up to its name in its ability to attract some of the biggest heavy metal bands from around the globe. The latest festival alone has welcomed Whitesnake, Judas Priest and Mr Big. In the past, acts such as Motorhead, Motley Crue, Queensryche, Guns 'n' Roses and Saxon have also performed.

Soul

What? Porretta Soul Festival
Where? Porretta Terme
When? July

The Porretta Soul Festival is the vision of soul music fan Graziano Uliani, who decided that an event should celebrate this great genre. The event first began in December 1987, after Uliani had attended a festival commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of soul legend Otis Redding.

And legendary is an apt description of this hugely popular festival. The Porretta Soul Festival is now regarded as one of the cornerstones of global soul music events and is also regarded as the European showcase of the Memphis Sound. Not only that, but a long list of soul legends have performed at this great event. Solomon Burke. Percy Sledge. Chaka Khan. Wilson Pickett. Sam Moore. Just five of the many soul acts to grace the Porretta Soul Festival. This event normally takes place in the third week of July, with the 2012 one set for July 19th to the 22nd.

Blues

What? Liri Blues Festival
Where? Isola Del Liri
When? June and July

The Liri Blues Festival is one of the biggest blues festivals in Italy. It comprises a series of free concerts which take place in the main square of Isola Del Liri (the Piazza Boncompagni). The festival has been running since 1988 and like many of the other festivals in the list can boast a large amount of big names in its field.

The Liri Blues Festival has welcomed performers from its home country including Rudy Rotta, Robi Zonca and Alex Britti, as well as performers from America such as Dr John, Jimmy Smith and Eric Bibb as well as European acts like John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers, Eric Burdon and The Animals, John Martyn and Robin Trower.

Liri Blues Festival