John Bensalhia takes a journey into escapism as he lists some of the top Italian events and festivals this October.
October provides a wealth of escapism. Venture into worlds past present and future in Italy – whether your interests are chocolate, comics or vintage bikes, there should be something to pique your attention in this month's festival round-up!
Ragusa, 4th - 7th October 2018
The unsung heroes of street entertainment are buskers. Whether we're walking along the high street or waiting for a train, a busker can provide a musical backdrop to the day.
So it's only fair that buskers get their own turn in the limelight. To be precise, in the Ibla Buskers Festival, which is held between 4th and 7thOctober. It's not just buskers, however. All kinds of street entertainers will be performing in the Ibla district, including magicians, illusionists, acrobats, jugglers and street artists.
It's an event that attracts independent performers and theatres from around the world – past performers include Swedish group Faela (playing an eclectic mix of styles such as reggae, swing and gypsy music) and Nadine O'Garra, a British/Spanish performer who used the power of multimedia to bring a unique spin on theatre and circus traditions. Expect this year (now in its 24thedition) to bring some more great entertainment to the streets of Ibla.
Ferrara, 5th - 7th October 2018
Hello. My name is John Bensalhia and I'm a journalist. It's been 20 years since I embarked on a journalism course, and within the space of 10 months, I learned the tools of the trade.
If you're interested in becoming a journalist yourself, then your curiosity might be piqued by the Internazionale Festival, which will hold three days of journalism workshops. As well as workshops, there are all kinds of events and initiatives held at the Ferrara-based festival. These cover all kinds of journalism outlets, such as reporting, photography, graphics and even comics. Journalists and experts from both Italy and around the world will be around to offer advice and expertise. Who knows, it might inspire you to become the next big writer hot off the press?
Chianti, 7th October 2018
We've featured vintage cars in these hallowed listings over the years. This month it's the turn of vintage bikes, which will be racing for fun this October in the beautiful Chianti countryside.
The L'Eroica event is now more than 20 years old, having been started in 1997 by Giancarlo Brocci, who wanted to introduce people to the wonders of historical style cycling. The event proved a runaway success, and this year's event is set to be another hugely enjoyable one.
You don't have to turn up on a vintage bike – you can dress up in period cycling gear. The roads of Chianti form a stunning view of the local countryside as you cycle past. It's a fun way to travel back in time to the days when you didn't have to get from A to B in such a hurry.
Trento, 11th - 14th October 2018
For the first time, the Sports Festival is coming to the Trento region. If you're a sports fan, this event is an absolute must. Figures from the sporting world such as athletes, coaches and experts will be attending the four-day festival for a range of initiatives such as debates, seminars, signings and presentations.
Because this festival kicks off with the theme of 'records', it's appropriate that this debut boasts an impressive set of stats – 15 locations in the region, and five town squares will play host to a bumper crop of 60 events. The theme tackles the secret of how to achieve a sporting record, and also to break it!
You may also get the chance to experience how to achieve a world record yourself – as well as meeting the stars, sports workshops and activities will allow you to take part in the sporting festivities too.
Perugia, 19th - 28th October 2018
Happy 25th anniversary to Eurochocolate!
The massively popular chocolate festival will be celebrating the milestone of a quarter of a century in style this year.
Whatever your preference of chocolate flavour, you'll be sure to find it at this annual event. It's a bumper box of chocolates brought to life including your very own visit to a chocolate factory in Perugina that would leave Willy Wonka weeping into the arms of an Oompa Loompa in jealousy.
All kinds of chocolate amazement can be seen and sampled at Eurochocolate, including a chocolate kebab, chocolate liquor and chocolate sculptures. If you're looking to get the most out of the experience, a special Chococard is recommended, which will get you discounts, special offers and maybe even the odd free sample or two.
Melfi, 20th - 21st October 2018
If you're more of a fan of Marroncino del Vulture chestnuts, then the forthcoming Varola Festival (now in its 59thedition) will be right up your street.
The third weekend of October sees Melfi's centre streets take on a wooden ambience as a host of specially constructed wooden booths will be open to visitors. All kinds of foods and drinks will be showcased to visitors – as long as the recipe includes chestnuts, anything goes! Chestnut flour pasta! Castagnaccio – a chestnut flour cake! There's even chestnut flavoured beer for you to try!
As well as the many chestnut-flavoured products showcased, you can also enjoy a selection of great music acts performing, including traditional and folk artists.
Trentino, 20thOctober - 10thNovember 2018
Take a trip back in time to the medieval age this Autumn. A key theme is to explore the link between wine and the medieval period. The fifth edition of the Medieval Tourism Festival will be held on the 20th October at Trento's Buonconsiglio Castle. Here, visitors can meet a range of experts and professionals from the sectors of wine and medieval history. Costumed guides will take visitors around the castle to take them back in time to the medieval era. Later that day, you can also experience a special wine tasting session where you can try a new concoction called Mesum.
In the following three weeks, special guided tours and private tastings will be held in addition.
31st October - 4th November 2018
The world of comics and games offers another great source of escapism. Celebrating this wide universe, Lucca Comics& Games promises a great experience for visitors. An impressive line-up boasts all kinds of famous faces including authors, artists and actors. Guests include author Alonso Rojas, and Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, actor, Nicholas Brendon.
A host of special activities and events are planned for this year's Lucca Comics & Games, such as a life-size T-Rex, conferences, and a new zone for junior reading and creative workshops.