Summer comes to Italy in style with a diverse range of events and festivals to see, hear, do and admire! John Bensalhia reports...
Summer's finally here in a big bumper month of events and festivals that will satisfy all tastes. If you're not glued to the screens to see how the Italian football team do in the Euro 2016 football tournament, then there is plenty to enjoy – including traditional events, religious commemorations, rose gazing and opera and heavy metal festivals (not at the same time, of course!).
So, turn up the heat, and let's kick Summer off in Italian style!
ROSE TO THE OCCASION
ROSETO COMUNALE, Rome, Till June 19th 2016
Never promised you a rose garden? Huh! Forget the creaky old 1971 song, and make sure you pay a visit to one of the most spectacular gardens in the world.
Roseto Comunale can be found in Rome and continues to remain open for over half of the month of June. Located at the foot of the Aventine Hill, the Municipal Rose Garden is the ideal place to escape from the hurly burly of work, traffic and crowds. In between admiring the different species of rose, you can also take time to admire the views of the Palatine Hill and the Circus Maximus.
Boasting more than 1000 varieties of botanical roses from around the globe, the Garden also includes what are known as botanical roses – or primordial species, which are said to date back 40 million years ago.
Entrance to the Municipal Rose Garden is free, so if you're coming here alone for a bit of quiet escapism or taking your other half out for a quintessential romantic date, then everything will definitely come up roses. More info here.
MARK THE 70th ANNIVERSARY OF REPUBLIC TRIUMPH
FESTA DELLA REPUBBLICA – Throughout Italy, 2nd June 2016
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1946 Institutional Referendum. A key year in history for Italy, the people were faced with choosing between monarchy or republic rule. The democratic vote saw the 10,719,284 million votes in favour of a monarchy beaten by the 12,717,923 million who voted for a republic. In the wake of the result, the male descendants of the House of Savoy were sent into exile.
Two years later, the first instance of Festa Della Repubblica saw a national holiday declared every year. One of the most memorable events is the Rome Parade, which includes the ceremonial laying of the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vittoriano. Attended by the President of the Italian Republic, and a sizeable crowd, this event recalls a historical moment with dignity and a sense of occasion.
EXPERIENCE SOME METAL GURUS
GODS OF METAL, Milan, 2nd - 3rd June 2016
Time to crank up that air guitar and get that bonce ready for some quality head banging.
Heavy metal has been a musical mainstay for more than 45 years, and the biggest celebration of this genre in Italy occurs in early June. Gods Of Metal has been an annual fixture in Milan since 1997, and this year, will be held on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June at Arena Fiera Milano, Strada Statale del Sempione, 2820017, Rho, in Milan, Italy.
This year's line-up includes a strong selection of great metal acts including Megadeath, Gamma Ray, Sixx Am, The Shrine, Rammstein, Korn, Halestorm and Jeff Angell's Staticland. There should be something here to satisfy any heavy metal connoisseur, so feel the rhythm and the beat – and of course, be prepared to riff along with those out-of-this-world guitar solos!
TAKE THE ROUTE CANAL
FESTA DEI NAVIGLI, Milan, 3rd - 5th June 2016
Coming to the canals of Milan is Festa Dei Navigli. Traditionally, the event takes place around the first weekend of June (to coincide with Festa Della Repubblica).
It occurs on the Canal Grande and Pavese (and also involves the boulevard areas Vigevano and Viale Gorizia). It's said that there are around 150 stalls displaying all sorts of goodies that you could wish for: Crafts, Food, Clothes, Flowers, Plants – and for the younger ones, toys and candy!
It's not just stalls that light up the canals. There will be many other attractions coming here for this early June weekend, including street artists, sports competitions, and balloon vendors. And of course, plenty of performances will add to the sparkle, with concerts of jazz and classical music providing a special addition. There are also other events and initiatives including exhibitions of paintings and photos, as well as conferences discussing the historical significance and importance of canals.
DEDICATEDLY FOLLOW FASHION
MILANO MODA MAIN (Summer) 9th June - 18th July 2016
Hot on the heels of the January/February fashion event, June and July bring the other Milan Fashion Main event with some of the top, innovative clothes showcased.
Looking at the men's, women's and children's collections, the displayed products will feature and reflect the latest trends and fashions that will be due to hit the streets in the forthcoming future.
With Milan a key hotspot for fashion, the second of the twice-yearly events is an important one to mark in the calendar. Total fashion!
WITNESS THE BIG GAME
CALCIO STORICO, Florence, Semi Finals – 11th and 12th June 2016; Final - 24th June 2016
As the Italy squad battle it out in the Euro 2016 football tournament this month, a more traditional football-related contest will return in Florence.
Strictly speaking, Calcio Storico is more of a mix. Think of football, but add a bit of rugby and wrestling into the mix, along with historical costumes, and you get Calcio Storico. This month sees the semi-finals take place before the grand finale on 24th June.
Calcio Storico originated in Florence in the 16th century. It pits four teams of four historic Florence districts against each other. Specifically, Piazza Santa Croce is the spot where it all happens. The four teams are: Holy Cross (blue), Holy Spirit (white), Santa Maria Novella (red) and Saint John (green).
Following the semi-finals on the weekend of 11th and 12th June, the big final on the 24th also dovetails with a colourful celebration of the city's patron saint, St John the Baptist. There will be a historical parade in the afternoon that moves with gusto and colour from Piazza Santa Maria Novella to Piazza Santa Croce. After taking part in the parade, the finalists will then battle it out at 5pm to win the game. And once it's all over, there will be a magnificent fireworks display from Piazzale Michelangelo.
ENJOY A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
ARENA DI VERONA OPERA FESTIVAL, Verona, 24th June - 28th August 2016
The 94th Arena di Verona Opera Festival is about to arrive, boasting a hefty 46 evenings of opera entertainment.
A number of classic operas will be performed this year, and will spread across the majority of the Summer season. This unique opera festival continues to garner a highly positive response, so hurry in order to snap up any remaining tickets.
On the menu this year are operas such as La Traviata, Il Trovatore and Turandot. There will also be a ballet event happening on 18th July: Roberto Bolle and Friends.
The festival kicks off on 24th June with the classic Carmen, and will be directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Later in the month, there will be performances of another acclaimed title, Aida, which will be showcased in a historical edition of 1913, with Gianfranco de Bosio in the director's chair.
BRIDGE THE GAP
IL GIOCO DEL PONTE – c. 25th - 26th June 2016 (TBC), Pisa
Italy is well known for its splendid historical events and Il Gioco Del Ponte is no exception.
This Pisa-based event traditionally takes place during the last weekend of June. This event comprises two notable attractions in one – a historical procession along the Arno River and the yearly Game of the Bridge. Originally, this traditional event occurred twice a year as opposed to just the once (the other one taking place in January).
The Bridge battle involves two towns playing to prove their physical might, courtesy of a seven ton trolley on tracks. The team that succeeds in pushing the trolley into the opposing camp is the winner. It's an event full of excitement and colour, and the military-style parade is also packed full of spectacle with over 700 people taking part.
REMEMBER THE PATRON SAINTS OF ROME
FEAST OF ST PETER and ST PAUL - 29th June, Rome
The patron saints of Rome, St Peter and St Paul, will again be remembered and honoured this month.
Because it's a public holiday, many businesses and offices will close, meaning that large numbers of crowds can come together to mark the two saints.
Regarded as the first Pope of the Catholic Church, St Peter was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. In the wake of Jesus' death, he would preach the Christian gospel to others. St Paul was another religious figure of influence (in the Christian church). He converted to the religion while on the road to Damascus after the passing of Jesus.
Every year, the Catholic Pope places a woollen cloak known as a Pallium over the archbishops who have been appointed during the last 12 months (to signify the unity of the church and acknowledge the religious meaning of the bishops' work).
Elsewhere, Rome holds all kinds of contemplative, religious, but also fun events for all to take part in – including music festivals, fairs and firework displays.