Carnival season may be over, but Spring's here! John Bensalhia lists some events guaranteed to put some sunshine in your life...

We've just covered carnival season at Italy Magazine, but now it's a chance to look ahead to the Spring. Suitably refreshing food and drink events will give you some inspiration for future outdoor picnics and barbecues. Elsewhere, this most creative of months fuels the brain cells with model building and crafts. So let's see what we've got for you this month!

Model Expo Italy

Verona, 2nd- 3rd March 2019

Model building is a hugely popular hobby for all ages. From childhood, when we get that first box of toy building blocks to granddad constructing his model railway in the attic, it's a timeless interest that caters to everyone.

That's why the massively successful Model Expo Italy looks set to be another sure-fire winner. The 15th edition of the model fair comes to Verona in early March and features all kinds of model building related stalls, shows and initiatives that will greatly appeal to fans.

The key model building sectors are catered for, including rail, cars, aircraft, ships and lots more. There's a special place for Lego fans, while another is devoted to innovations in the likes of cars, fast trains and drones. Youngsters will get a real kick out of this event, and with special child-friendly interactive initiatives included, they will be sure to enjoy these too.

Live Wine

Milan, 3rd- 4th March 2019

Celebrating the fresh, natural wonders of artisanal wine, Live Wine comes to Milan this March. All kinds of great happenings are packed into this two-day event, including tastings and a special Live Wine Night.

One of the attractions of this event is its locale – Palazzo del Ghiaccio (Palace of Ice) is a truly unique place to be, and it's where more 150 winemakers from both Italy and worldwide will gather to showcase their products.

Guided tastings allow visitors to find out more about the wines, as well as the producers and locations. These include Alsatian and Roero producer tastings, which are both held on the first day. Visitor tickets will allow free tastings of all of the wines, and if you're impressed by the taste, you can buy a bottle to take back home with you.

Artisan foods will also be showcased at this event, with stalls hosting all kinds of offerings such as cold cut meats (which have been sourced from ethically vred animals), chocolates, oils, olives and much more.

Sartiglia

Oristano, 3rd- 5th March 2019

Knight time!

The Carnival of Oristano traditionally concludes with the Sartiglia, a medieval-themed contest in which knights on horseback take part in a series of challenges that will prove their worth as the ultimate victor.

The challenges include the Star Joust, in which the head knight initially aims to take the prized silver star with his sword, followed by his two aides-de-camp. If unsuccessful, the knights can try again, but this time with a wooden lance. The Sa Remada portion of the event meanwhile includes some nifty equestrian acrobat skills and some impressive back-to-front horse riding from the head knight.

A pleasingly colourful and entertaining sign-off to the Oristano carnival, Sartiglia proves that medieval methods of fun never age.

Ciccioli in piasa

Emilia Romagna, 10th March 2019

One of the many things I love about Italy is the wide range of unique food recipes. The Ciccioli, for example. Refusing to let fatty pork go to waste, the meat is instead compressed, dried and aged. Once the process is complete, the meat is formed into cakes, and it's in San Martino in Rio that the best norcini do battle to see who can come up with the best Ciccioli.

Visitors can come and see which of the pork butchers claims the prize. They can also enjoy the tasty treats at the food stalls including polenta, gnocco fritto, hot chocolate and mulled wine. In fact, it's quite the event with something for everyone. Local crafts and gastronomy goodies for sale. Guided tours of the Automobile Museum and the Museum of Agriculture. Street art. Come and enjoy!

Fantasy and Hobby

Genoa, 15th- 17th March 2019

One of the best creative outlets is handicraft. Pottery, ceramics, painting... the list goes on. For a bit more inspiration to get those creative wheels turning, why not toddle along to Genoa's Fantasy and Hobby event this March?

Fantasy and Hobby is a market fair that commands both plenty of respect and visitors. Previous fairs have drawn in crowds of more than 15,000, and it's sure to bring in more this year. Exhibitors from the world of hobbies and handicrafts will be on hand to showcase their products, workshops and courses. It's a great event to go to if you're either a seasoned creative genius (wanting more materials) or if you're looking for a brand new hobby to take up. Courses and demonstrations will also provide a bit of extra inspiration!

Squid Festival

Pinarella di Cervia, 19th - 24th March 2019

Fans of this seafood will consider this March event to be quite the catch.

Ravenna's Pinarella di Cervia is your seaside setting for this acclaimed event. Come along and sample some of the best and imaginative dishes made with squid and take some inspiration for future recipe ideas. All kinds of ideas will be on display to taste and buy, with all dishes made to the highest standard.

But if you want to visit the event purely for its sunny ambience, you won't go short. Lots of music, traditional markets and the picturesque locale of Pinarella di Cervia add up to a lovely experience.

Plus, it's an event that casts off the grim shackles of Winter and looks forward with a sunny positivity to the Spring. Result!

Bergamo Jazz Festival

17th- 24th March 2019

And in keeping with this sunny Spring cheer, what better soundtrack than jazz music?

One of the finest of the lot is the Bergamo Jazz Festival. Its enduring appeal can be attributed to the fact that it chooses such a wide range of jazz performers both from Italy and around the world. It's attracted quite a stellar cast of performers since its initiation in 1969, with jazz heavyweights including Charles Mingus, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani.

This year puts on a 75th birthday bash for Gianluigi Trovesi with the help of his quintet and special guests Anat Fort, Manfred Schoof and Annette Maye. Other performers to look forward to this year include the Ermanno Novali Trio, Milan-quartet Dugong, double bassist Federica Michisanti, and free jazz legend Archie Shepp.