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Free time: local festivals

Italy is a land of celebration and traditional festivals are important moments in all Italian towns and villages in commemoration of local, historical or religious events. Wherever you are you should find out what the local calendar of events is and make sure you take part in these celebrations. It is a wonderful way to get a real sense of Italian life.

Naturally, it is impossible to list all of these events here but there are some very famous celebrations that you may want to visit while you are in Italy.

Carnival is celebrated all over Italy in February or March each year but the most famous Italian Carnival is in Venice where people come from all over the world to take part in the celebrations in costumes and masks accompanied by music, mimes and fireworks.

The former maritime republics of Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice all have special medieval parades or regattas to celebrate their former glory.

Another very famous Italian celebration covered by international television and attended by thousands of visitors each year is the Palio in Siena in July and August. This is a famous bareback horse race in the town square between inhabitants of the different districts of the town to win a banner known as the Palio. The race is accompanied by processions, banners, music and costume.

Many towns have very special celebrations, parades and processions during the main religious events such as Easter and Christmas as well as in honour of the local patron saints.