Here's your summer guide to Italy's top events and festivals during our favorite season, l'estate.
Verona Opera Season – June 24-August 28
On June 24, the 94th edition of the Arena di Verona Opera Festival opens with Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Four more celebrated operas are scheduled for this year’s festival – Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, La Traviata and Il Trovatore, and Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot – for a total of 46 show nights ending August 28. Ballet aficionados should not miss the special Roberto Bolle and Friends dance show on July 18.
Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto – June 24-July 10
The Festival of the Two Worlds is an annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July since 1958 in Spoleto, Umbria, featuring features a vast array of concerts, opera, dance, drama, visual arts and roundtable discussions on science.
I Suoni delle Dolomiti – July 2-August 26
Art, music, nature and sports. Dubbed the “high-altitude music festival of the Dolomites”, The Sounds of the Dolomites festival features internationally renowned musicians performing in pristine natural places in the heart of Trentino’s Dolomites. 19 concerts (‘1 pm concerts’), two treks, one sunrise appointment (‘Dawn in the Dolomites’) and approximately 70 artists.
Palio di Siena – July 2 and August 16
For more than 700 years, the Palio di Siena horse race has been the most anticipated event of the year for the residents of this beautiful Tuscan town, attracting thousands of visitors. The Palio takes place on July 2 and August 16. The 90-second race on Piazza del Campo is preceded by the spectacular Corteo Storico, a historical pageant celebrating the greatness of the Republic of Siena.
Festa del Redentore, Venice – July 16-17
The Feast of the Redeemer takes place every year on the third Sunday of July. The feast began after the end of a terrible epidemic of plague that killed 50,000 people between 1575 and 1577. To thank Jesus (the Redeemer), a church, designed by Palladio, was built and an annual festival established. Today, the event features spectacular fireworks, which the Venetians enjoy from on board their gondolas, while sipping wine and nibbling on cicchetti. At sunset, the lagoon fills with thousands of illuminated boats decorated with flowers and balloons. At 11:30 pm on Saturday, the fireworks display begins in St. Mark’s Basin. At 4 pm on Sunday, the Regatta of the Redeemer begins on the Giudecca canal.
Musical Weeks, Lake Maggiore – July, August, September
The Musical Weeks of Stresa and Lago Maggiore (Stresa Festival) is the premier summer event on the lake. It began in 1961 and has grown to become a major classical music festival. It features internationally acclaimed artists and ensembles, performing in churches and palaces across the lake, including the Borromeo Palace on Isola Bella, the Loggia del Cashmere on Isola Madre, the Santa Caterina del Sasso Hermitage, the Rocca Borromeo in Angera. The 55th edition opens with the Midsummer Jazz Concerts on July 19, which will be held on Promenade La Palazzola, a lakeside open-air venue in Stresa right in front of the Borromeo Islands.
Umbria Jazz – July 8-17
Held since 1973 every July in Perugia, the Umbria Jazz Festival is one of the most important jazz festivals in the world (its winter edition in Orvieto is also especially beloved). It has features the likes of B.B. King, Chet Baker, Natalie Cole and Miles Davis. This year’s festival features international artists such as Brad Meldhau, John Scofield, Pat Metheny and Marcus Miller, as well as Italian ones, from Enrico Rava to Fabrizio Bosso, from Stefano Bollani to Danilo Rea. Concerts takes place in different venues around Perugia, including the Arena Santa Giuliana and Teatro Morlacchi.
Noantri Festival, Rome – mid-July
The Romans’ most beloved festival takes place in the neighborhood of Trastevere to honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel. During the Festa de Noantri, which takes place from the middle to the end of July, Trastevere fills with stalls, music and theater events, while outdoor taverns get crowded with locals and tourists.
Puccini Festival, Torre del Lago – July 15-August 13
The Puccini Festival is an annual summer opera festival which celebrates the work of famous Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini. It takes place in Torre del Lago, not far from the beaches of Viareggio in Tuscany, and 18 kilometers from Pisa and Lucca, Puccini's birthplace. In presenting four or five performances of up to four operatic productions each season, the Festival attracts about 40,000 spectators to its open-air theatre, the Teatro dei Quattromila, located near Villa Puccini, the house built in 1900 where the composer lived and worked. The festival celebrates its 62nd edition this year, and the operas on schedule are Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Boheme and Turandot.
Summer Jamboree, Senigallia – July 30-August 7
The “hottest rockin’ holiday on earth”: that’s how the Summer Jamboree Festival has been labeled. The international event, which takes place in the beach town of Senigallia, on the Adriatic coast in the Marche region, is dedicated to the music and culture of 1940s and ‘50s America. Music is indeed at the center of the festival with rock and roll, rockabilly, hillbilly, swing, doo wop, rhythm’n’blues and boogie concerts, with artists of the caliber of Gaynel Hodge, Ws “Fluke” Holland, Kid Ramos, and The Bellfuries directly from the USA. 39 free concerts are scheduled for the 17th edition of the Summer Jamboree Festival.
Ravello Festival – July-August
The Ravello Festival, also known as the “Wagner Festival”, is a summer festival featuring music and the arts held in the town of Ravello on the Amalfi coast. The festival has been held yearly since 1953 when organizers decided to market the visit to Ravello in 1880 by German composer Richard Wagner to promote tourism in the area. While the emphasis at first was Wagner's music, the event has since grown into a two-month festival featuring a wide variety of music, large orchestras, chamber groups, jazz, art shows, dance, photographic exhibits, discussion groups and a chance to meet and talk with the featured artists, many of whom are of world renown.
Ferragosto, all around Italy – August 15
Well, Ferragosto is Ferragosto. It is the Italian summer holiday par excellence. It coincides with the major Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary. Italians flock to the beach, gather for picnics, take day treks on this national holiday which marks the height of summer.