John Bensalhia reaches the end of Summer as he puts some excellent August happenings under the microscope...
With more festivals and events returning from the virtual to the real world, Italy can celebrate both its past and present. This month's selection of events takes in music as diverse as opera and electronica; cycling; and film-making competitions and festivals. However, some events have still been rearranged to take place online, as an extra precaution against the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
Tuscany, 1st August 2020
Since 2007, Strade Bianche has been a popular cycling fixture in Italy, and the good news is that it's set to return this August. Male and female cyclists will enter the long-awaited race (the female version of the race has been a fixture for six years, now). It's regarded as one of the first important competitive events to be held since the lockdown. After its postponement earlier this year, the WorldTour races will now be pencilled in for the first day of August, albeit with the caveat that both men's and women's races will be shorter at 184 and 136km respectively.
3rd - 15th August 2020
Although some festivals will be happening in the real world this month, others have chosen to take the online option. One such example is the InterHarmony International Music Festival. By using the power of the internet, those taking part in InterHarmony can play music and connect with other musicians from around the world. Students can have the option of taking hourly private lessons, concentrating on solo pieces which have been specially chosen for the festival. Masterclasses are available for instruments such as piano, flute and violin from experienced musical professionals. If music isn't your thing – don't worry, there's plenty of harmony for those wishing to either learn the Italian language or do a spot of Italian cookery. An introduction to Italian will be provided in an online elective class (again for a one-hour duration) by native speakers. Meanwhile, chef Claudio Sirito will be teaching viewers the art of preparing a tasty Pietmontese dish as an example of fine Italian cuisine.
5th - 8th August 2020
2020 has seen a creative burst in many spheres of the media: music, writing, art, and also film-making. This month's crop of events sees two festivals celebrating the best in short film creations – kicking off with the 13th edition of the Palena Film Festival. The Palena Film Festival puts all kinds of submitted short films, animations and music videos under the spotlight – with an open invitation to budding film makers and directors who would like to create a piece on any subject of their choosing. The competition is open worldwide, with around 125 countries having taken part. As well as the results of the contest, the Palena Film Festival traditionally puts on other special events including non-competitive screenings of films, workshops and retrospective features.
Valle d'Itria, 6th - 9th August 2020
Another event to get the go-ahead this month is the acclaimed electronic music bonanza, VIVA! Festival. Lining up some of the best talents in the fields of electronica, soul, hip-hop, techno, disco and club music, VIVA! Festival promises to be a musical treat for those looking in. The event will be due to take place across a selection of venues in the region of Valle d'Itria, including clubs and specially built stages – the relevant safety precautions will be taken in line with health and safety issues arising from Covid-19. Guests include Massimo Pericolo; Jolly Mare; Nicola Conte; Populous; and Yaffra.
Sponsalia, 8th August 2020
In accordance with the appropriate Covid-19 health and safety regulations, the annual Palio del Duca is set to go ahead this August.
The event takes visitors back to the 1234 wedding between Forastéria of Acquaviva and Rainaldo of Brunforte. While it's usually a three-day affair, for obvious reasons, this year will only host the traditional wedding breakfast. It's worth noting that there will be limited places this year, with allocated placements for up to 120 people. Reservations are required. For those fortunate enough to get an invite, the wedding breakfast is a feast of period dishes served up by waiters in medieval outfits. In keeping with the medieval ambience, the event also includes the music, dancing and entertainment of the 13th century.
Pesaro, 8th - 20th August 2020
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic affecting many festivals this year, the Rossini Opera Festival is still getting the go-ahead this August.
While the 41st edition has received the welcome green light, all of the required safety precautions will be put into practice for the event. For example, the Teatro Rossini will see the orchestra play in the stalls and the audience seated in the boxes for a new production of La cambiale di matrimonio. For those unable to make the performances, the first night of the opera will also be streamed live on the website.
Other highlights this year include a performance of the Emilio Sagi production of Il viaggio a Reims, as well as six singing recitals from acclaimed vocalists including Jessica Pratt, Karine Deshaves and Olga Peretyatko.
Conversano, c.18th - 23rd August 2020
Another of the film festivals celebrating the best in new, up and coming film-making talent, Imaginaria focuses on animation.
With entries made between January 2019 and May 2020, the results will be in for the pick of animated movies. The 18th edition will again be split up into separate categories which comprise feature films; short films; student films, and also films for children. With international juries rating the pick of animated submissions, the competition will be very high.