The Colosseum in Rome
With the temperature rising and the summer holidays getting closer, it's time to start planning your summer getaway. If you've decided to visit the land of pizza and Pavarotti then you definitely won't be short of things to do, whether you're going for five days or five weeks.
To whet your appetite for the cultural delights (and gastronomic feasts) that Italy has to offer, I've put together a list of Italy's best summer events. And if you haven't decided where you're going this summer, then perhaps this will help you make up your mind.
Verona Opera Festival
As the birthplace of one of the world's most cherished classical music traditions, no visit to Italy would be complete without at least one trip to the opera. The first operatic performances date back to 16th century Italy and it's no surprise that opera is still recognised as an incredibly important part of Italian culture, and a quintessentially Italian tradition. Every summer since 1913 the Arena di Verona is transformed into the world's largest open-air opera theatre for the Verona Opera Festival.
This year, the festival will showcase some of the most magnificent operas that have ever been written, including Don Giovanni and Tosca, as well as several ballets and classical music performances, which are made all the more magical due to the historic amphitheatre setting. The festival runs from June 19th to August 25th, and I've already got my ticket, so be sure to get yours before they sell out.
Arena di Verona
Palio di Siena Horse Race
Like the countries that surround it, Italy has a vibrant and rich history, with a long list of traditions and customs to match. One such tradition is the annual Palio di Siena horse race, which is held on July 2nd and August 16th. The two races are run by 10 riders and their horses, each representing one of the 17 districts that make up the town of Siena, and each dressed in traditional clothing and colours.
The race itself circles the Piazza del Campo on a dirt track that is created specifically for the race, and is lined with stalls to seat the excited crowds that gather each year. But don't be fooled, the Palio di Siena is more than just a horse race, it's an expression of the history, culture and spirit of Siena, and this region of Italy as a whole - definitely an event that you'll remember forever.
Palio di Siena horse race
Venice Art Biennale
Whether you're a long-time art lover or simply a curious art appreciator, the Venice Art Biennale is guaranteed to stimulate your senses. The first Venice Art Biennale was held in 1895, and since then new festivals have been created for Music, Cinema, Architecture and Dance. This year's exhibition, All the World's Futures, is the city's 56th international Art Biennale and it includes the work of over 136 of the world's most revered artists. All kinds of art can be seen at different locations, and with so much to see you're sure to spend hours taking it all in. The Biennale runs until 22nd November and is open to the public every day, except Mondays.
Artwork in the 2015 Venice Art Biennale
You can tell a lot about a country by its cuisine, and in the case of Italy this couldn't be truer. Food is an undeniably important part of Italian culture and is seen as an integral element of family life. The country is scattered with various food and wine festivals, but one of the most popular is the Artusi Festival in Forlimpopoli, which is held every year during June.
The festival was created as a tribute to the undisputed "father of modern Italian cuisine", Pellegrino Artusi. For nine days, Forlimpopoli is turned into a city-wide food exhibition that takes visitors on a gastronomic journey like no other. Over 700 recipes from Artusi's culinary bible, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, are brought to life at numerous restaurants and pop-ups that line the streets, squares and alleys. Alongside the irresistible culinary delights, there are various shows, concerts and exhibitions that are sure to get your mouth watering and your tummy rumbling.
Artusi Festival in Forlimpopoli
Ready to go?
If you can't wait to start exploring everything that Italy has to offer, then plan your summer holiday today. With
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
it only takes 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, and with motorway access at either end you'll be saying ciao! (hello!) in no time.
Arena di Verona Marco Frattola on Flickr
Arena di Verona Son of Groucho on Flickr
Palio di Siena horse race Teymur Madjderey on Flickr
Janus Kinase on Flickr
Artwork in the 2015 Venice Art Biennale G.Sighele on Flickr
Artusi Festival - Because of all the sauces Massimiliano Calamelli on Flickr
The Colosseum in Rome - Image by Flickr user Unbekannt270