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I hope your Friday’s been splendid so far. I might put a damper on it (whoops!) with this pointed question: outside of significant-to-you birthdays, anniversaries and national holidays, how many fixed-date, celebratory rituals do you have in your life right now? 

For most of us, those numbers are middling at best. But in Italy, while the idea of “24/7 sweet life under the sun” has holes, there’s always something to celebrate. Some forgotten saint’s feast day — or some hapless sinner’s history-making flub! — is readily on deck as a reason to close up shop. And the more off-the-map a town, the more likely it is, much of the time, to host off-the-wall festivals. (Psst: when you opt for a Premium Subscription, you directly support Italy Magazine's continued efforts to bring you the best-researched, most authentic insider takes on all such traditions.)

Whether well-known or under-the-radar, rituals are the common thread in most of our highlighted content this week. The famous Palio di Siena, for example, is a 400-year-strong calendar anchor around which the community orbits, landing, like clockwork, on July 2 and August 16. Imagine how chaotic things felt in the Sienese cosmos when, for the past three years, those Palio dates went dark. Annalisa Coppolaro Nowell has written about the meaning of the Palio’s comeback as the town prepares for the second 2022 race. 

Not all rituals are so hyper-local. But when a festa in Italy is widely embraced, it’s always spiced up with regional variations. Earlier in the week, on August 10, Italians from Turin to Taormina celebrated the Night of San Lorenzo, coinciding with the Perseids meteor shower. Returning Italy Magazine writer and self-proclaimed festa aficionado Amy Gulick gives the meaty backstory on this tradition here.

And in case you missed it, it “snowed” in Rome on August 5. (We might have included this in last week’s newsletter, but the story was published — prepare to cringe — in a bit of a flurry.) 🙃 Turns out it “snows” every year on that same day, at least on the Esquiline Hill. Sometimes heat waves have to take a backseat to supernatural events.

Here’s hoping you find something to celebrate this weekend, or even to turn into a tradition. We’ll see you next Friday.

Mary Gray, Managing Editor


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