February is cause for celebration as carnival season gets underway in Italy. There are many carnival events happening all around Italy – I've selected a handful, but wherever you are, there's bound to be something for everyone to celebrate.
Elsewhere, saints are honoured, black truffles are eaten, and marathons are run to the sounds of Verdi...
16th February - 5th March 2019
23rd February - 3rd March 2019
17thFebruary - 3rdMarch 2019
24thFebruary - 5th March 2019
Before we get to some other great events this month, let's take a look at what February is most famous for. Carnival time!
If you happened to chance upon my recent article on why to come to Italy this Winter, you'll have read about the world-famous Venice Carnival. It's bursting at the seams with colour, imagination and enjoyment, including waterway and street parades, masked balls, and traditional beauty contests.
But let's not forget some of the other amazing carnivals bringing a bit of razzmatazz to Italy this month. With its visual treats and sense of fun, it's no wonder that kids love carnivals, and the Arco Carnival is one that specially caters for children. It's packed full of entertainers, artists, storytellers, decorations, and even an inflatable playground! It's an event that will leave all children leaving with a great big smile on their faces!
The Marche's biggest carnival takes place from 17th to 24th February and on 3rd March. Carnival in Fano is a lavish event filled with memorable parades, masks, wagons and fireworks. It's a carnival that is rich in tradition, including the Musica Arabita band, the lighting of the wagons (Luminaria) and the opening parade Pupo. Well worth a visit.
Meanwhile, Castrovillari’s Carnival is another highly regarded event of its kind in Italy. This carnival is rich in tradition and folklore, including an International Festival of the Folklore, and a Folklore Gran Galà, in which groups from the International Festival perform along with other groups from all around the world. Another notable tradition is Sirinata d’à Savuzizza – also known as the Sausage Night – in which groups of masked people entertain local landlords with singing, dancing, and accordion playing in return for food and drink.
Catania, 3rd- 5th February 2019
The first of two annual Saint Agatha of Sicily happenings (the other one occurring in August). The February one marks the memorial of Saint Agatha, with three days of religious events and ceremonies.
While a number of events in this three-day memorial provide ample spectacle, at their core are more serious issues. For instance, the Piazza Duomo fireworks, on the one hand, provide a visual treat, it's still a sobering reminder of Agatha's death by burning (hence, her posthumous status as protector of the fires).
On the second day, a procession takes place, in which a statue of the saint is ferried along the city streets. The statue is festooned with precious jewels and gold. The saint's statue reaches the local cathedral on the third and final day, bringing an end to this vivid but thoughtful celebration of a local icon.
5th- 9th February 2019
Who's set to get in tune this February?
It's a question that will be answered at this year's annual Sanremo Music Festival. Now in its 69thedition, the music contest to end all music contests in Italy will be hosted by Claudio Baglioni, Claudio Bisio and Virginia Raffaele as a list of hopefuls will perform to an expecting audience. It's up to both a jury and viewers who can vote for their favourite established singers or newcomers.
Last year's victors Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro won the contest, going on to represent Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest with Non mi avete fatto niente. Find out who will follow in their footsteps this year – if you don't have a lot of money, it's just the ticket. Invite some friends round – crack open some snacks and wines, and enjoy!
Terni, 14thFebruary 2019
On the day that countless cards are sent, roses are put in vases, and romantic meals are eaten, it's also worth remembering the Saint in question.
The protector of lovers – Saint Valentine – also happened to be the protector of Terni. It's the place where the saint was born, becoming a bishop of the city at 21 years of age. So it's no surprise that every 14thFebruary, Terni comes together to honour its very own protector and saint.
Terni becomes a bustling celebration on the 14th, as over 300 stalls pack out the streets in the Fair of Saint Valentine. Those in the region on this day (you may be on the way to a romantic meal of your own!) can enjoy plenty of music and dancing, as well as specially organised tournaments. Lots of fun things to do, and a great way to mark that special saint who inspired Valentine's Day.
15th- 17th February 2019
Firework shows don't get much bigger and better than Asiago's annual pyrotechnic displays. It's a memorable sight, seeing the skies above the plateau come to life with colourful and impressive firework illuminations. What this event does is to add a number of other elements into the mix, such as animation and music.
The music is an important part of the displays, working in tandem with the fireworks to produce a special kind of symmetry. The lighting and colourful effects complement the music, providing a feast for both the eyes and ears. Building up impressive crowds of locals, visitors and tourists, the show is now about to enter its 12thedition, and judging from its great reputation, it's an event that's set to last for a long time yet.
Ferrara, 16thFebruary - 2ndJune 2019
If you're a fan of both art and fashion, then this may be the exhibit for you.
Ferrara's Palazzo Diamanti will play host to a special exhibit that is devoted to painter Giovanni Boldini from 16thFebruary in a run that lasts till all the way through to early June.
Boldini's paintings are well known for their subject matter of clothes, and the exhibit will look at the connection between his works and the Parisian fashion culture from the 19thand 20thcenturies. It's said that Boldini had some influence on couturiers such as Pacquin, Doucet and Worth.
There will be plenty to explore at the exhibition, with more than 120 drawings, paintings and engravings created by Boldini, along with period clothes and accessories. It's a fascinating insight into how the worlds of art and fashion came together in a unique way. You can catch the exhibition between 9am and 7pm every day until 2ndJune, so there's plenty of time to take a look!
Umbria, 22nd February -10thMarch 2019
One of the most famous and highly regarded of its kind, the Norcia's Black Truffle is to be showcased again this month.
The Norcia Black Truffle trade show is about to enter its 56thedition in 2019, spanning three weekends from the 22ndFebruary to the 10thMarch, running from each of the Fridays to the Sundays.
As well as the Norcia Black Truffle, it's an excellent showcase of the local produce of the region. Come and sample the unique tastes of Norcia's prosciutto, sheep milk cheese, cereals and the IGP Lentil of Castelluccio di Norcia. Food tastings will be open to all attendees as well as extra entertainment such as costume parades.
From Salsomaggiore to Busseto, 24th February 2019
Here's an unusual but very healthy way to celebrate the life of legendary composer, Giuseppe Verdi. A marathon route that takes you around the location of Verdi's birth.
Getting ready steady go for its 22nd edition, the Verdi Marathon begins in Salsomaggiore, taking in locations such as Fontanellato (where the half marathon ends), and the ending of the full marathon, Busseto. Successful runners will make for the statue of the man himself in the Giuseppe Verdi Square.
Not only does the marathon help you to keep fit, it's also a great way to see some of the local attractions and scenery that the route has to offer. From the Fontanellato castle to the location of Verdi's birth – the district of Roncole Verdi – there's much to admire on the marathon. And all the while, you can hear the maestro at work, thanks to loudspeakers rigged up at intervals throughout the marathon route.