John Bensalhia takes a look at some of the events in bloom in Italy this May

May is the apex of the Spring season with fruits and flowers in bloom. Appropriately, these are the cornerstones of many an Italian event. It's also a month of tradition, culture, fun and also... Pinocchio!

Calendimaggio

Assisi, 3rd - 6th May 2017

Who's the victor out of Sotto and Sopra?

The two ancient factions will again battle it out in the famous Calendimaggio event between 3rd and 6th May 2017.

With a flavour of the medieval and Renaissance periods, each of the two factions compete against each other in a variety of areas such as theatre, dancing and processions. On the final day of the event, the winning side is decided.

Other events also recall the historical period including the Blessing of the Banners ceremony and the Crowning of Lady Spring. There are also special shows, parades, and displays – all adding up to a great way to start the month in nostalgic style.

BorgoIndie

Brisighella, 6th - 7th May 2017

A festival of independent agricultural and cultural activities, BorgoIndie will be held at the Ancient Osservanza Monastery in Brisighella on the weekend of the 6th and 7th May 2017.

The festival will be in its 4th year and will welcome a slew of artisans, artists and winemakers as well as areas for the Garage Wine Contest, PGI and PDO products and Slow Food presidia of the Emilia-Romagna region.

This year's BorgoIndie will focus on reading – specifically: “Reading the wine, reading the territory, reading the music, reading a book.” A conference on the Sunday, entitled 'Reading The World' will spotlight this ethos with the help of showbiz and publishing representatives as well as food and wine experts.

Other morsels to whet your appetite this year include gala dinners (on both days), an Italian Classic Method tasting with Francesco Falcone as well as a performance from Di Martino and Cammarata.

Viva Arte Viva

Venice, 13th May - 26th November 2017

If you're into your culture, then the forthcoming Viva Arte Viva will be just what you're looking for.

Viva Arte Viva is the 57th International Art Exhibition which is organised by La Biennale di Venezia. Following an initial preview between 10th and 12th May, the exhibition will open on 13th May and will last until 26th November 2017.

Curated by Christine Macel, Viva Arte Viva gathers together a wealth of artwork. The artist list for this year's central show was recently announced, including the likes of Franz West, Olafur Eliasson, Kiki Smith as well as more recent artists such as Rachel Rose and Dawn Kasper. Artists from 51 countries will feature at the exhibition, making this an exciting and richly textured event for those who like their art and also those looking to broaden their cultural horizons.

Infiorata di Noto

19th - 21st May 2017

During the third Sunday of May, the city of Noto becomes a memorable flowery masterpiece.

Infiorata di Noto takes place in the street of Corrado Nicolaci, where artists create masterpieces using flowers. The event was introduced more than 35 years ago by artists Genzanesi and Netini, and each year, more budding artists showcase their own flower-made creations. Over the days of 19th to 21st May, you will be able to witness the works of flowery art at the location of Via Corrado Nicolaci.

The works themselves are made with special organic soil (used for the outline) and flower petals (that fill in the finished stained glass window-style result). These won't be around for long – only the weekend, so if you're in the region, come and see this unique take on the traditional work of art.

Monterosso Lemon Festival

May 20th 2017

The Spring season brings many advantages. Better weather. A renewed sense of optimism. Plus, delicious fruits growing on the trees. And what better fruit to celebrate than the lemon?

Monterosso is about to hold its annual lemon festival – May is an appropriate choice of month, given that its the time of year when the lemon has matured to its best.

The event kicks off on Saturday 20th May with the opening of its local lemon market and a couple of hours later at 11.00am, it's time to put your best feet forward for a 10,000 step walk around town to the Limone Perfume.

The evening parties on with music held in the Piazza and a performance from Nicola Olivi's Marching Band. There is also an awards ceremony which rewards the greatest lemon and the most beautiful shop display in the area.

Feast of Narcissus

Rocca di Mezzo, L'Aquila, 27th May 2017

It's not just fruit that's in full bloom in the Springtime. Flowers are coming into their own this season, and the Narcissus is blooming in abundance in the upland of the Rocche.

To celebrate, Rocca di Mezzo holds the Feast of Narcissus each year around the last May Saturday, with this year's event on the 27th of May. One of the most keenly awaited aspects of this festival is the parade of allegorical wagons decked out in Narcissus flowers. There is also a prize at stake for the best looking wagon. The wagons compete against each other to be the most beautiful wagon with respect to the flowering, the structure and the scenic design.

The wagons are a big part of the annual celebrations. In the run-up to the event itself, many long hours are spent preparing and constructing the wagons throughout the month of May. Traditionally, it's up to the boys and men to work on the wagon, while the girls and women traditionally collect the Narcissus. The end results come together on the final day, where the wagons recall the great Abruzzo traditions and events inspired by the region's social life.

Pinocchio's Birthday

Pescia, 27th May 2017

This is no word of a lie – it's time to celebrate that legendary wooden puppet Pinocchio's birthday!

The Tuscan town of Pescia holds a very special birthday celebration each year, with lots of fun and games, and even attendees dressing up as Pinocchio himself!

A twist this year is that this year's celebrations will feature the winners of a recent competition. Launched by the National Foundation Carlo Collodi, the competition was on to find the best video that boasts the theme 'My Pinocchio'. The four best video winners will get to be a part of this year's Tuscan event.

If you wish upon a star, then this may well be the birthday event of the year for you!

Mostra del Chianti

27th May - 4th June 2017, Montespertoli

Like a fine wine, Mostra del Chianti (Chianto Exhibit) continues to grow in stature. The event is coming up to its 60th year, with a week's worth of Chianti glory showcased between 27th May and 4th June 2017.

Mostra del Chianti hosts a number of initiatives such as workshops, tastings of local products, conferences and historical parades – all of which celebrate both the local wine and the whole territory. The historical parade is one of the most memorable elements of the timetable, re-enacting life in the early 900s, and in faithful style right down to the period clothes, bikes and oxcarts.

On the subject of transports, there will also be events devoted to vintage cars, motorcycles and farm tractors. The event attracts many visitors from the whole of the country who come to sample Chianti's culture and of course, its appetising food and wine tastings. The local products and wines make for a star attraction of this much-loved event.