Historic Festivals in the City Square
June is here, and while summer officially starts on June 21, that doesn't mean that the summer activities are put on hold - quite the contrary as you look at the long list of cultural, artsy and folkloristic events.
From June to September, Tuscany gradually attracts more and more tourists looking to spend a bit of their well-earned vacation time relaxing amidst the famous landscape, vineyads, quaint medieval villages and its spectacular "cities of art".
So while there is normally more of a crowd this time of the year visiting Tuscany, it is also the period that offers the widest choice of events to attend, spread throughout all corners of the region. These events let you to learn a bit about Tuscany's social and traditional identity.
Pisa celebrates its Patron Saint, San Ranieri, on June 17 with a series of events and manifestations that attract every year lots of tourists and people coming from the nearby locations as well, filling the air with a festive and joyful atmosphere. The three most important events of the festivities for San Ranieri are the Luminara, the Regatta and the Battle of the Bridge. You can read about "Giugno Pisano" here.
A brief presentation of the events here: the Luminara takes place on June 16 when the city from sunset onwards is lit up with over 70,000 candles along the Arno river. It’s a very suggestive and enchanting spectacle to see, especially as the city reflects on the water of its river. At the end of the manifestation, a fireworks show lights up the dark sky, always leaving every visitor happy.
The following day, Pisa celebrates Saint Raineirus with the most important event of what is commonly referred to as Giugno Pisano, the Regatta of San Ranieri. The four quarters of the city will compete in a nautical content on rowboats on the Arno to honor the ancient maritime tradition of Pisa.
On the last saturday of June, visitors will assist an, unusual, quite pacific "battle" that, as the other events, is deeply rooted in the city's history: the Battle of the Bridge. A large iron cart is set up on the central part of Ponte di Mezzo and the two rival teams - once again, the city quarters - will try to win by pushing the cart towards the enemy.
After taking part in all or some of these events and visiting the marvelous Square of Miracles, you still have time and energy we suggest heading out into the province to enjoy the enchanting landscapes and interesting festivals that characterize the surroundings of Pisa. Volterra, for example, will be home to the Palio del Cero on June 2, a medieval festivity which celebrates 14th century local customs. Jousts, food tastings and a final tug of war, and, at the end, homage with votive candles to local saints carried on finely decorated, large wooden structures.
Another type of contest will take place along the tiny streets of San Miniato, starts on June 11 with the Notte Nera, celebrating the black summer truffle filling the quaint village with games, historical parades and typical products tastings an entire week, from June 26 to July 3. (to be confirmed) This manifestation draws many tourists and visitors every year, attracted by the traditional aspect of the festival but, above all, the most interesting event of this festivity: the curatelli (a sort of barrel) race, during which the teams participating in the competition will have to push heavy wooden barrels up on an uphill route.
In Santa Croce sull’Arno, one of the main industrial areas of Tuscany for leather manufacture, the traditional dinner on the Arno river is but the date has yet to be confirmed and called the Festa di una notte di inizio estate (An Early Summer Night’s Feast). Both children and grown-ups always take part in this event, as there are entertainment shows and games for kids. The medieval streets of Peccioli will be filled with artists, musicians, performs and their ideas. This is the Tuscania Festival, a special event in Tuscany which unites art, music and theater on the 25 & 26 of June.
On June 17-18-19, head to San Gimignano for the medieval festival "Ferie delle Messi". For 3 days, San Gimignano travels back in time to celebrate the traditional Ferie Messum, a fertility festival that dates back to 1255. The whole population takes part in which the four "Contrade" of the town - San Giovanni, San Matteo, Castello and Piazza - compete against each other in traditional games in honor of fertility. They hope to obtain abundant harvests through singing, dancing and playing medieval games such as tug of war, archery and the "Giostra dei Bastioni" where the knights compete against each other armed with sticks. San Gimignano is a spectacular medieval village, you won't be disappointed to visit during these special days.
From June 2 - 5, Trequanda will be housing culinary and folkloristic festivities during Borghi in Festa. Celebrating the delicious "pici" pasta, the Amatori Pici Chianciano club are preparing a feast on the 10 & 11 of June in Piazzolina dei Soldati in the historic center of Chianciano "Dù Pici sotto le stelle." This hand rolled pasta made of flour and water is traditionally served with a yummy meat sauce and once you taste it you will be caught! P.S. they are even making Celiac friendly pasta...
At Chiusi in the province of Siena you can experience the Palio delle Torri, a game of carrying “towers” up a hill to the main square of the of the town. A weekend of medieval rivalry and fun starting 24-26 June. Check the offical website for a detailed program (in Italian)
Il Bianco e L’azzurro (The white and the Blue in English) will be evoking the ancient Medieval times in San Quirico through parades in historical costumes, musicians, flag throwers and drummers, but the most eagerly awaited event of the manifestation is the murder mystery dinner, during which diners are invited to solve the murder (it’s a popular type of dinner-theatre in Tuscany and all Italy as well) as they eat typical medieval dishes with wood knives, forks and spoons (from June 3 - 5).
How about a bit of the blues? The Torrita Blues Festival on June 23 - 25 with music and dinner in piazza featuring concerts by Mississippi Heat and Mighty Mo Rodgers Band. On June 1 and 2, Radicofani will be home to a craft, culinary, agricultural and folkloristic festival that celebrates ancient, local jobs: worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in the surroundings!
From June 12 to 14 Petroio will host a double manifestation: an interesting exposition of local terracotta products, renowned all around the world, and the Palio del Contadino, a traditional event during which the four quarters of the town will compete against each other in a challenge that is an allegorical representation of rural daily life. A market exposition will exhibit all of the greatest terracotta artisanal wonders and have local products for tastings. Moreover, the Terracotta Museum in Petraio will be especially open throughout the duration of the manifestation.
Monteriggioni di torri si corona: it seems to be a poem title, but it actually is the name of the manifestation, now in its 25th year, that takes place in Monteriggioni on the weekends between June 27 through July 12. On June 27-28 outside the walls of the ancient castle there is a medieval tournament with battles and knights, food stands and music. The second weekend (July 3-5 and 10-12) will be held inside the castle and will consist in a series of events inspired of the themes of Sacred and Profane, with a special event organized to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this festival.
For all those passionate about nature, hiking and trekking, there's a great event for discovering Maremma and its amazing landscape: the first Explore Maremma Walking Festival will be from June 1-5 in Manciano. Trekking and hiking itineraries guided by environmental tour experts open to everyone and, above all, totally free will wind their way through the enchanting natural landscape of Maremma to explore some of the most interesting archaeological sites in Tuscany. Check out the complete program here .
Manciano will also be home to another interesting event from June 10-11-12: the Manciano Street Music Festival, with street parades and live folkloristic concerts that will fill the air of the quaint village with a festive and joyful atmosphere. There will also be stands with culinary products and some of the greatest of local artisanal wonders. Porto Stefano and the Argentario Sailing Week on the 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 June has a fabulous regatta of historical boats.
Montemerano will be home to Il Giardino degli Esperidi - Hesperides Garden - dates to be confirmed, a market exposition with plants and flowers during which visitors will have the chance to see practical demonstrations and lessons about synergistic vegetable gardens.
Finally, Montemerano will be also housing Vivamus Montemerano Con il Cuore a Cavallo on to be confirmed. It's a sort of equine exposition, with practical demonstrations about show jumps and dressage, games, horseback riding excursions. Visitors will also have the chance to try horseback riding (children will have beautiful ponies at their disposal). Expect Morellino di Scansano and delicious local street food tastings.
From June 2-3-4-5 and 10-11-12 Cortona will be home to the Giostra dell’Archidado, an event that is a historical reenactment dating back to medieval times, rooted in local traditions. It’s a battle of crossbows among the Cortona quintieri (quarters) aimed to evoke the festivities held many years ago for the wedding of Francesco Casali (Cortona’s lord) and Antonia Salimbeni, with musicians, parades in medieval costumes, flag throwers and drummers. See official program for events.
Head back to Arezzo on June 18th for the 85th edition of the spectacular Giostra del Saracino, the Joust of the Saracen. The historical reenactment of this knightly tournament is one of the major annual events for Arezzo, luckily happening twice - in June and September. If you're here then, don't miss this event - in June, it is held in the evening.
Travel tasting excellent local specialties
Prato, from June 17 and 19, will host EatPrato - 300 Years of Wine and Taste, a festival dedicated to local products, from the wine from Carmignano to biscotti to mortadella. Tastings, cooking shows, and guided visits. A full program should be online soon on http://www.eatprato.it.
Whether gastronomic or artisanal, the most representative products of Tuscany may be the right and unmissable occasions to tour the region and discover its greatest of wonders! Bacchereto, for example, a small fraction in the province of Prato near Carmignano, an area renowned for the production of high quality wines, will host the Cherry Festival from June 10-11-12: a whole weekend dedicated to this tasteful fruit, during which visitors will have the chance to try out many variations of recipes, including fried cherries!!
In Camaiore, province of Lucca, immersed in a marvelous landscape with the impressive Apuan Alps in the background, there will be the San Pietro Festival from June 26 to 29, a culinary event dedicated to homemade Tuscan cuisine, with three different menus proposed: the Abbot Menu, the Pilgrim Menu and the Monk Menu.
This is just a brief summary of the most important events taking place in Florence and surroundings in June as there is an entire article that goes into detail. But first, I would like to remind you that the Sagra del Chianti di Montespertoli, is taking place from the end of May until June 7. Another great opportunity, is only a hort distance away at Montelupo where there will be an exhibition and events highlight the artisans of ceramic in the area. Stop by if you happen to find yourself in the surroundings to taste wine and lots of local specialities. Read our blog post for details.
A little closer to Chianti Classico, well to be honest in the center of Chianti Classico, on the 4 & 5 of June is the much awaited event "I Profumi di Lamole" where the producers of quality wine set up house in the small square in front of the church for a small but select wine tasting. Located in the hills above Greve, this is an event not to miss.
Besides the many culinary festivals taking place all over the province, Florence will be celebrating - as is Pisa this June - its Patron Saint but on June 24. Many events will be organized through the day, including the final game of the most eagerly awaited event in Florence by locals, the Calcio Storico in Piazza Santa Croce.
Stepping out into the province, one of the events that particularly stands out is the medieval dinner and entertainment (A CENA CON MESSER GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO) that will be taking place along via Boccaccio in Certaldo Alto. Anyone wishing can join in and enjoy the chance to taste delicious recipes from medieval times, surrounded by the rare beauty of this charming town (June 4 and 11). You must make reservations to attend, contact the official site.
These are only a few of the events taking place in Florence and its surroundings, so now...it's up to you to decide where to head to! You really will find it difficult to decide which one among all festivals taking place in Florence and Tuscany to head to each weekend but am sure you will choose wisely. Enjoy and have fun wherever you end up!