Bringing Italy sunshine, August's list of events will put a smile on many a face. John Bensalhia reports...
It may be the last chance to enjoy the sun, but August certainly fills in its 31 days with plenty to do. With the kids off school, there are countless events and festivals to keep them entertained. Some of the events nod to the past with saint's day celebrations, past music glories, and medieval re-enactments. Some of these are to be found in my compilation this month, plus more!
3rd - 5th August 2017, Serravalle di Chienti.
There's a somewhat mystical air to some of this month's batch of events (stay tuned for a spell in the Basilicata air). The early part of August heads back to a simpler time when the music was played on instruments, not machines.
Heralded as one of the biggest Celtic music events in Italy, the Montelago Celtic Festival attracts visitors from all over the world, to meet up with fellow spirits and also to enjoy a wide range of Celtic-themed music.
The acts are also drawn from many corners of the globe. While some acts are local, others come from places as far as wide as Scotland (Contemporary folk act, Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton); Romania (Selfish Murphy, described as 'Celtic Shamrock Rock 'n' Roll'); Canada (New-trad Celtic artist, Jocelyn Pettit) and Finland (Folk/world act, Tsuumi Sound System). The Italian acts this year include Irish Five and harpist Katia Zunino.
Brescia, 3rd - 6th August 2017
If you like your festivals on the bright side, then you've come to the right place. One of the brightest examples is the stellar Lonato Festival in Brescia.
Begin a long weekend from Thursday 3rd August and prepare to be enchanted by a glittering array of street artists and circus acts. This festival is wonderfully evocative of those old-time circuses, with the likes of clowns, jugglers, tightrope walkers and acrobats putting on their best act. There are also dancers and musicians adding to the celebratory feel of the festival, which mixes different cultures and styles of entertainment to serve up a truly memorable event at Lonato's Fortress.
6th August 2017
Festa Maggiore follows in the footsteps of the yearly celebrations dedicated to the Patron Saint of Terlizzi, also known as Madonna Nera di Sovereto (the Black Madonna of Sovereto).
The story of the Terlizzi patron saint is said to date back to some time around the year 1000 when a shepherd followed a beam of light emanating from the ground. When the shepherd reached his destination of a cave, he found a picture of the Black Madonna of Sovereto. On that site was built the Sanctuary of Sovereto, and in the early part of the 18th century, the Madonna of Sovereto became the region's Patron Saint.
On the first Sunday of August, Festa Maggiore remembers and honours the patron saint in style, with a parade of an elaborate float bearing the icon of the Madonna is ferried by more than 60 men through the streets of Terlizzi.
Massa Marittima, Grosseto, 14th August 2017
An event that's right on target, traditional crossbow contest Balestro del Girifalco is one of the events in August's listings that's a case of two for the price of one. Following an earlier competition in May, this one is held in August, and is equally memorable for everybody who comes to spectate.
Eight crossbowmen are selected from each Terziere of the region, totalling 24. The competitors then pit their wits against each other to see who can score the most points. Basically, the nearer the target, the more points you score when you fire the arrow! The crossbows used are of the old-style Italian kind, which are accurate copies of their 15th century counterparts.
A lavish medieval parade kicks off the event, with more than 100 people dressing up in period clothes to take you back in time! The parade carouses through the local streets, ultimately reaching the Piazza del Duomo.
Emilia-Romagna/Ferrara, 17th - 27th August 2017
Blowing out 30 candles this year is the super Ferrara Buskers International Festival. The event started life in 1987, and during that time, has welcomed more than 1000 artists from 40 countries to a rapturous audience, with over 800,000 attending since it began.
This month's collection of Italian events boasts a number of street artist and entertainment ones, and the Ferrara Buskers International Festival is one of the most impressive of the lot. It packs much into its 10-day spread, showcasing all kinds of entertainers in over 100 free shows. The musicians are joined in the 200,000 square metre performing area by entertainers such as jugglers, acrobats and clowns, providing fun for all the family this Summer.
Cividale del Friuli, 18th - 20th August 2017
We've had an archery contest. Now here comes an archery competition and a race, as Palio di San Donato gets underway this August.
This historical re-enactment takes its roots from the Palio of the 14th century. It's said that the first recorded Palio was in 1361, while seven years later, the town recommended that the event would become an annual occurrence from then on.
San Donato is the patron saint of Cividale del Friuli, which is close to Udine. In accordance with the day of the patron saint's day (20th August), this event is held around that date.
The archery and race pits members of the five local districts (Borgo Duomo, Borgo Brossana, Borgo San Domenico, Borgo San Pietro, Borgo di Ponte) against each other, with the winner vying for a commemorative gonfalon award.
Notti della Magia
Albano di Lucania, Basilicata, 25th - 27th August 2017
Abracadabra! Conjuring up a truly special atmosphere is Notti della Maggia (Nights Of Magic).
The Basilicata region of Albano di Lucania is known for its magical reputation: literally. Back in the day, the people of Albano di Lucania regarded white magic as a means of changing lives. White magic was seen as a way of predicting future events, changing people's lives, and also healing the sick.
The three nights of magic in late August recall the magical beliefs and really go to town with fortune tellers, palm readers and fire-eaters taking to the streets of Albano di Lucania. There is also a recollection of the witches' trial, which was seen as a somewhat drastic way of ridding the area of black magic.
The event is done in good old-fashioned medieval style, with music and entertainment recalling this period. If you're peckish, then a selection of Basilicata food goodies are available to eat.
Cavallino Treporti, 26th August 2017
As the Summer season slowly draws to a close (boo!), at least it's going out in (fire) cracking style.
Beach On Fire is an ambitious fireworks display that takes place along the 13km stretch of coastline at Cavallino Treporti. Actually, the term of fireworks display is doing this event something of a disservice. Thousands of fireworks are set off in precise synchronisation from various points between Punta Sabbioni and the Cavallino Lighthouse.
The resulting spectacle is amazing, with the sounds and colours creating something quite unique. Countless visitors come to this event: not just from Italy, but from all around the world. It's an event that's talked about globally, having secured the distinction of being the longest fireworks display on Earth.