Things to Do and See in Italy in May 2021

Mon, 04/26/2021 - 10:43
festa della sensa

John Bensalhia looks at what's in store for May 2021 with a host of events getting the go-ahead… As the country comes out of lockdown, live events are returning to Italy in earnest. This month sees a mix of traditional and modern festivals encompassing subjects including food, drink, music and gardening, to name but four. While lockdown may be easing, the appropriate precautions are still in play. As ever, please check the websites for any last-minute changes or news regarding the events.

Virtues Feast

Teramo, 1st May 2021 

Festivals can be whatever you make of them. While many on this list are specially organised, others are created spontaneously by a community. Take the traditional Virtues Feast in Teramo, which celebrates spring among the locals with a classic but simple dish comprising vegetables and legumes. It's a recipe that is said to be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire but today local families make their own versions of the dish, leaving their doors open to families and friends. Any variation of the dish will do, with great twists and innovations thrown into the pot.  Because of Covid-19, the relevant precautions must be taken with social distancing, face masks and exchanging of dishes in the open air. Despite these modern day changes, the timelessness of the recipe remains.


8th - 9thMay 2021, Busseto

With spring well and truly in its stride, there's no better time to get your garden into shape. The ideal haven for chilling out with a cool drink, a good garden needs to look its best. With that in mind, a great festival to get some garden inspiration from is Busseto's Ortocolto.

Ortocolto is a market fair that spans two days this May, providing all kinds of greenery including soil and  aquatic plants, fruits, roses (ancient, botanical and new), ornamental ideas, unique plants, and more. All of which give ample scope to turn your garden into something special.

You can also seek a bit of advice from the exhibitors, who are experienced gardeners and farmers and can give you great gardening tips. Plus, there are conferences and workshops for bonus inspiration. Children can also come along and, in between picking up gardening ideas for the future, there will be special entertainment available.

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Model Expo Italy 

15th - 16th May 2021, Verona

Talk about this year's “model event”!

Model Expo Italy is back this May in its 16th edition, reaching out to fans of model building and spanning sectors including model aircraft, train, car and ship building. It's one of the biggest and most important events in its field and this year's expo promises to be as impressive—not just for returning visitors but newcomers seeking some building inspiration.

The event boasts a wide array of exhibitors, interactive workshops, shows and also special theme zones. It's an event that pushes for the latest innovations in model building, including electronics and drones.

As well as the traditional ways of model kit building, the event covers many other forms of model making including good old-fashioned LEGO (a surefire hit for youngsters). The relevant COVID-19 precautions will be in place, with visitors advised to adhere to these rules.


Festa della Sensa

Venice, 15th - 16th May 2021

One of the best known Venetian events is the wedding ceremony of the sea: Festa Della Sensa. This much-loved water parade provides plenty of colour and spectacle, headed by the Mayor and other important figures on board the Serenissima. 

As well as the parade, there is a rowing contest, a religious ceremony and the traditional throwing of a ring into the sea. The latter element represents the peace treaty arranged in 1177AD by Pope Alexander III and Emperor Federico Barbarossa, bringing a century-old conflict between the papacy and the Imperial Reign to a conclusion. Every year, on that date, the Doge of Venice would sail to  St. Elena's San Pietro di Castello to be blessed by the Bishop. It was customary for the Doge to throw a gold ring into the sea when reaching the inlet of the lagoon—hence the ongoing tradition to this day.


The Madonna of Cultivation

Parabita, 22nd - 24th May 2021

The story goes that long ago, a farmer discovered a stone bearing the image of the Virgin Mary. Taking the stone to his local church, the farmer announced his discovery to the locals. When they returned the next day, however, the stone had disappeared from the church to reappear in the original location of its discovery. From that point on, it became tradition to revere the Madonna as a means of ensuring a prolific harvest.

It's a tradition that is carried on in the Madonna of Cultivation festival, which will occur this year between 22nd and 24th May. The centerpiece of the festival takes place on Sunday 23rd, on which day the original story is recalled by runners (representing the farmer) making their way towards Parabita to the Madonna under the Gate of Gallipoli. La Gara del Chilometro recalls the farmer's dash with the modern day race, with the celebration later represented by a superb firework display and light show.

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Ein Prosit

Udine, 25th May - 13th June 2021 (TBC)

This past year has seen a notable effect on events and festivals throughout Italy. Some have been cancelled and others postponed.

Ein Prosit is one example of the latter, having been held back from the late autumn season to late spring. However, it's due to get the go-ahead this May and promises to showcase a diverse range of food and wine tastings.

The event comprises a number of different tasting methods. These include a traditional exhibition style of food and wine, a taste tour conducted by experienced professionals presenting their recipes and thoughts, guided wine tastings which advise visitors on new and classic wines to sample, and finally taste workshops which celebrate and encourage the finest in Italian food and drink. Numbers are limited for the final two examples, which are subject to admission charge and reservation in advance.


Piano City Milano

May 2021 (Dates TBC)

As someone who can just about play Chopsticks on the keyboard, I'm in awe of anyone that can play the piano with skill.

Milan becomes a hothouse of piano playing talent this May. From a variety of locations in the city(both in the heart and lesser known spots), talented pianists will be playing an equally diverse range of musical masterpieces.

The 10th edition is set to continue the high standards of previous showcases, and caters for fans of piano music as well as newcomers looking to get some inspiration of their own. A musical treat is guaranteed for all.