Summer in Italy: 5 Ways to Enjoy It

As days and nights heat up, much of Italy becomes almost unbearably hot and humid. To stay comfortable, Italians live life al fresco (in the open air). Parties, cooking and eating meals, dance clubs—every type of leisure activity moves outside till things cool down.summer in italy
Image © Italian Concierge

As days and nights heat up, much of Italy becomes almost unbearably hot and humid.

To stay comfortable, Italians live life al fresco (in the open air). Parties, cooking and eating meals, dance clubs—every type of leisure activity moves outside till things cool down.

Here are five ways to get in on the outdoor fun this summer in Italy:

Festivals


summer in italy festivals
Image © Italian Concierge

Italians love to take time off and relax in the summer, and there are hundreds if not thousands of festivals all over the country catering to just that desire.

Summer music festivals, from the 100-year-old summer opera festival in Verona’s Roman amphitheater to the month of classical concerts that makes up Florence’s Maggio Musicale and from the world-renowned Umbria Jazz Festival to the summer concert series in Ravello and Taormina, fill the warm summer nights with siren’s songs.

The Greek Theatre in Siracusa, Sicily, features classic theater productions in the warmer months, while Taormina hosts a renowned film festival. To me, one of the real highlights of the summer festival season is Andrea Bocelli's annual July concert in the outdoor theatre he created in Lajatico near the sea in western Tuscany.

Hiking


summer in italy hiking
Image © Italian Concierge

Hiking and country walking are some of my personal favorite ways to experience Italy. I’ve covered more than 2,000 miles of the book during my time leading walking tours, both for Italian Concierge and previously for Wilderness Travel, Country Walkers,  Smithsonian Journeys and Smithsonian Study Tours.

Summer is one of the perfect times to see the north of Italy on foot. While the rest of the country swelters, the weather in the Alps and Dolomites is almost as stunning as the mountain meadows.

Aperitivos


summer in italy aperitivo
Image © Italian Concierge

It’s a simple concept, much like happy hour: stopping in a local bar for a pre-dinner drink accompanied by some nibbles. But like so many other things, Italians elevate it to an art form.

After you order your aperitivo—usually a fun, colorful drink like an Aperol spritz  (aperol and prosecco) or sparkling wine such as plain old prosecco—the bar is your oyster. A full spread of mini panini, pizze , sliced meats and cheeses, focaccias and more awaits at most aperitivos.

And in the summer, restaurants and bars double or triple in size as they take their seating into surrounding sidewalks or parks.

Sagras


summer in italy grapes
Image © Italian Concierge

Sagras aren’t something you’ll find announced in glossy travel magazines. They’re decidedly and deliciously local affairs often to celebrate a particular regional plate, or food item.

Whether it’s DOC (designation of controlled origin) or simply a special local recipe, every town from petit cities like Florence to tiny country hamlets in the mountains of Calabria has a food worth celebrating. Porcini, castagne (chestnuts), tortellini, or cinghiale (wild boar) all are cause to celebrate.

Sagras may revolve around freshly-cooked, family-style meals, but there’s also music – if not a live band – and plenty of wine, which means dancing is the only way to end the night.

Palios


summer in italy palio
Image © Italian Concierge

Every summer, cities, towns, and small mountain villages around Italy maintain the medieval tradition of the palio, an event named not for a specific type of race or parade, but the prize they all have in common, typically a simple  banner.

Though the most famous palio, the Palio of Siena, revolves around a horse race, Italian palios take many forms: foot races, donkey races, boat races, archery matches, and more.

In addition to the main competition, each palio includes parades, music, flag throwing, and neighborhood celebrations.

*****

In our July newsletter, we’ll be covering one more way to enjoy the outdoors in Italy this summer: the estati (summers). Major cities throughout the country organize an entire summer of outdoor events from concerts to theatrical performances to interactive art events.

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Guest Tuesday, 11 December 2018

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