John Bensalhia samples some of the best events and festivals in the first month of the Spring season
With Spring coming into view, March brings a choice of events and festivals that cater for everyone. Traditional and modern. Food for the tummy and food for the soul. Indoors and outdoors. The condemned and the revered. It's a month of contrasting festivals, but with a common denominator of fun!
Ciccioli in Piasa
San Martino in Rio, 1st March 2020
Who will come up with the best Ciccioli for the 18th edition of the popular Ciccioli in Piasa event?
It's a pressing question – literally – with these pressed chunks of pork – but all will be revealed on the first day of March, as the Emilia Romagna-based event comes around. The finest pork butchers from miles around will do battle with each other to produce the best Ciccioli in the region.
As well as a contest, Ciccioli in Piasa works brilliantly on other levels. As a food showcase, it's second to none. Tasty local delicacies such as porchetta, gnocco fritto and polenta can be sampled at the many food stands alongside a great selection of hot and cold drinks.
If you're more interested in the cultural and historical side of the region, then various tours and guides will be available on the day. These include visits to the local Automobile Museum, the Museum of Agriculture, and the Rocca Estense fortress. Street performances, entertainments and market stalls add up to a great day out for all the family, with plenty of activities and fun to keep the kids entertained.
Milan Machinima Festival
9th - 13th March 2020
The third edition of the Milan Machinima Festival will be a key element of Milano Digital Week this March. Offering the biggest new avant garde and experimental game-based videos, Machinima showcases this genre with contributions from international film-makers and artists.
Visit IULM University this March, where Machinima will be held in two separate locations: the Contemporary Exhibition Hall and the Sala dei 146. 25 artists from a dozen countries will present their offerings in six categories, including Game Video Essays A and B, The Weird, The Eerie and the Unreal, as well as three special programs. Special focus will be given to artists, Jacky Connolly, and Larry Achiampong & David Blandy.
Milan, 13th - 15th March 2020 (Moved to October 2-4th)
Continuing the theme, Cartoomics is a must for fans of comics and video games. Also in Milan, Cartoomics presents an enjoyable and varied itinerary of events in its 27th edition. Whether your penchant is for comics and comic books, video games, sci-fi, cosplay or fantasy, you'll find much to enjoy here. There will be special TV previews, book presentations and cosplay competitions, to name but three.
A notable innovation this year is the launch of TELL MI, a publishing zone that will celebrate the finest authors of this genre. It's appropriate that the show will be taking place in Milan Games Week, as there will be ample video game examples to see and try out at this fun event.
Forlimpopoli, 15th - 22nd March 2020
Segavecia has a somewhat gruesome tale to tell when it comes to the origins of this event. One school of thought is that the event originated in the Middle Ages, when during the period of Lent, an old woman contravened the rules and ate meat. The punishment was macabre and horrible, with the woman sentenced to be sawn in two.
But another theory is that the Segavecia in question is no more than a symbolic representation of Winter. Saw the Winter symbol in two and say goodbye to the season for a good few months. The symbolic sawing of the old woman puppet continues to this day in this event that welcomes the Spring season. In front of the Garibaldi Square fortress, the traditional sawing occurs, and for the youngsters, inside the puppet, there are toys and sweets!
The Butterfly House
Rome, 21st March - 7th June 2020
Life is like a butterfly as the song goes – and in this case, the point stands true.
The Butterfly House will be back for its fourth edition in a natural environment close to Appia Antica Regional Park. Visitors can come and see all kinds of butterflies in their natural environment. As well as rare, tropical and multi-coloured butterflies, a variety of chrysalises, millipedes and other insects will be available to see.
It's a fascinating and enlightening visit for all ages. In particular, kids can gain much from a visit to the Butterfly House, with a special spread of activities that help the younger generation to learn about the importance of looking after and protecting the environment and its keepers.
Banksy: A Visual Protest
Rome, 21st March - 26th July 2020
The distinctive visual style of British artist Banksy will be showcased in Rome this Spring and Summer. With the question remaining as to the identity of Banksy, the exhibition lets the artist's works speak for themselves. The show will offer about 80 of the most famous works completed by the street artist.
As with the title of the exhibition, the display of art takes on a topical slant. The artworks convey interpretations of Banksy's opinions on subjects such as politics, the environment, war and consumerism. The eclectic array of topics is well matched by the wide range of techniques and sources used in Banksy's work. Paper, canvas, metal... used as the backing for the artist's thoughts, while as well as conventional paintings, there are sculptures, stencils and more.
The ultimate visit for the art connoisseur, Banksy's collection of art will be open weekdays from 10am to 8pm and weekends from 10am to 9pm.
St Joseph Feast
Valguarnera Caropepe, 22nd March 2020
The celebration of the life of St Joseph is to occur this month. The centrepiece of the festival is the communal thanksgiving feast. In front of the church of St Joseph are a wide range of dishes arranged for local families and friends to eat together.
The feast is ordered in traditional fashion, with chosen representatives of the Madonna, Jesus and St Joseph beginning the meal, with the other attendees following suit. Local dishes include specially shaped breads (shapes include angels and the woodwork tools signifying the work done by the saint). There's also a baker's parade, which is another of the most memorable sights of the day. Other traditional dishes sampled on the day include cassata, turrón, pagnuccata, and cannoli.