John Bensalhia looks at a mixture of festivals, shows and exhibitions taking place in Italy throughout April 2014.
April is one of the most important months in the Italian calendar. Not only can it be a time for Easter, it is also the month in which the annual Liberation Day celebrations take place. With new, improved weather conditions after the frozen climes of winter, the spring season is now in force with many celebratory festivals lined up.
FUTURE FILM FESTIVAL – April 1-6, Bologna
This year's umbrella theme is highly apt for this regular festival. Futuropolis: The City Of The Future is this year's theme for the Future Film Festival, now in its 16th year. Looking at the technology behind movies, animations, videogames and other genres of new media, this festival continues to go from strength to strength.
The six-day festival hosts a wealth of screenings, competitions, showcases and masterclasses. Guests this year will include director Carlos Saldanha, who will introduce his new animated 3D film, "Rio 2 – Amazon Mission", which features voiceovers from the likes of Anne Hathaway and Jamie Foxx. There will also be an event looking at stop motion techniques and a retrospective of Walt Disney.
NATALE DI ROMA – April 21, Rome
April is a very important month in Italy – in addition to Liberation Day, the birth of Rome is celebrated on April 21st.
This year's Natale Di Roma looks set to be another party to remember. There will be fireworks, fancy dress and light shows occurring. One of the main events will be a historical parade, in which a procession will make their way from Circus Maximus, through Teatro di Marcello, Piazza Venezia, Fori Imperiali, the Colosseum and back to Circus Maximus.
Circus Maximus will also play host to a number of events including historical re-enactments. Other notable events taking place this year are a historical, re-enacted battle between legions and barbarians, the Ceremony of Palilia and the Representation of the Path of the Furrow.
PALIO DELLA RANA – April 24–27, Rome
It's a big month for Rome, as, fresh from the birthday celebrations, it gets ready to celebrate Roman independence from Montefeltro. The celebrations take place over four days, which play host to a number of special events and games such as the Golden Frog Race.
This year's spectacular kicks off on April 24th when it is ushered in with help from flag bearers, soldiers and a myriad of special effects. The next day will see an opening exhibition in the Museum of Architecture, along with a procession. April 26th sees a wide and varied line-up of medieval fencing, a performance from the musicians of the Palio, Elimination and Battery Win of the Putt, plus craft markets and dinners in the taverns. The final day of this year's event sees the Golden Frog Race itself, which is accompanied by a procession, games and musical performances. A fireworks display will cap off this year's event in colourful style.
LIBERATION DAY – April 25, All over Italy
On April 25th 1945, Italy was freed from the Nazis and the rule of Mussolini by Allied troops. The Second World War ended this year, and to mark this, it was announced on April 22nd 1946 that a national holiday would be held three days later.
Since then, Liberation Day has been held every April 25th with Italian cities and towns honouring and remembering the brave. Parades, marching bands, concerts, festivals and various other events will be held again this year to honour those who served in the Italian Resistance. The music on show will undoubtedly include Bella Ciao, an anthem sung by the Italian Resistance movement, with the words still relevant today.
FESTA DI SAN MARCO – April 25, Venice
It's a busy April 25th for Venice. Not only does Liberation Day fall on this date, April 25th also sees the annual public holiday of the Festival of St Mark (Festa di San Marco).
St Mark was the patron saint of Venice, a disciple of Jesus and believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark. This year will see a familiar and inviting mix of concerts, carnivals and markets to celebrate the patron saint. In addition, the Regata di Traghetti will also be gearing up – it's a boat race in which gondoliers compete with each other while ferrying passengers in their gondolas. Nine teams will be competing, with the victors awarded prizes under the arcades of the Fish.
LOST WORLDS RACING – April 26, Tuscany
The race is on as the Lost Worlds Racing event comes to the Tuscany crossing again.
Last year's event saw 400 participants take part in races that offer the alternative of 100k and 50k lengths. The racing will specifically take place in Val d'Orcia, an area of Tuscany that offers some truly stunning scenery. The emphasis with the Lost Worlds races is on running in beautiful surroundings, and Val d'Orcia provides plenty of these! The races begin and end at the medieval Castiglione d'Orcia, as the competitors will run through routes that take them past picturesque hills, trees and trails.
NOTTE BIANCA – April 30, Venice
For those who can't sleep, Venice will have some welcome distractions on the night of the 30th April.
Notte Bianca translates as White Night, a night where you don't sleep. It's a nocturnal celebration of the Spring season with a whole host of festivities including free shows and concerts, performances and dancing – not to mention a circus and acrobatics! There will be an emphasis on the burgeoning technology age too, with video projections and digital art showcased this year.
And of course, shops, museums and restaurants will be open for a bit of late night shopping, exploring and eating!