Festivals play a major role in the life of Italians and are a focal point for the community throughout the year. One of the most festival packed seasons in the year is during the fall. Traditionally, this is a time for appreciating the year’s harvest and preparing for the coming winter months; but in the modern world it’s also a great excuse for a celebration!
So whether you’re a long time Expat or a tourist in Italy during the autumn months, the Tuscan festivals are an unmissable treat.
The following are the list of the major fall festivals:
Montemurlo Olive Oil Festival.
Taking place for two weeks during November, the Olive Oil Festival in Tuscany is a remarkable local event during which you can taste different olive oils, meander through extensive food markets, stalls and exhibitions in the beautiful town of Montemurlo.
The festival is a wonderful opportunity to taste all the harvests of the autumn season, much of which has made the region famous, as well as a wide range of other local specialities. After exploring what’s on offer you can buy locally produced wines, olive oil, mushrooms, chestnuts, cheeses and a lot more besides! While looking through the stalls you’ll find plenty of arts and crafts, textiles and other souvenirs to take home with you. The festival is also proud to host interesting entertainment including historical re-enactments, traditional medieval dance routines and artistic exhibitions.
One of the great things about this festival is that they accept donations from visitors to help pay for the restoration and preservation of the ancient town, including the landmark Fortress of Montemurlo. In fact, while you are at the festival it’s worth dropping by the ancient church which is thought to date back to around 998 BC! As one of Tuscany’s best kept secrets, the Montemurlo Olive Oil Festival is a must see for tourists and Expats alike.
The Truffle Festival In San Miniato.
Known locally as the Mostra Mercate Nationale Del Tartufo Bianco, the festival was first founded in 1969 following the discovery of the largest white truffle in the world! So incredible was this valuable truffle that it was packaged and sent across to America as a gift for the former President Dwight Eisenhauer!
The giant truffle, or ‘tuber magnatum’ put the nearby village of Balconevisi on the map and caused locals to organize an annual festival to celebrate this groundbreaking event.
The festival takes place on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th weekends during November each year in the beautiful historic center of the town of San Miniato. The festival town also went on to become a founding member of the Associazione Nazionale delle Citta del Tartufo and the town’s annual market has grown to become an internationally recognized festival.
Each year the festival includes over 200 truffle producers as well as famous chefs and a wide selection of locally sourced foods. There is traditional entertainment throughout the weekends which makes this festival a very family friendly event; although you will also meet plenty of truffle aficionados at the proceedings!
The festival helps the town to commercialize their truffle crops and provides a venue for markets and stalls where visitors can taste the food on offer. As well as its truffles, the region is famous for its local wines and other delicacies including salamis and other pork products which are all on display at the event.
The Chianti Classico Wine Festival In Greve.
As one of Italy’s premier wine festivals, the Expo Chianti Classico represents some of the finest wines in Europe. The festival takes place in Greve, in the Chianti region, and is managed by the local municipality to help showcase the best of the region’s produce to a wider international audience.
Although the name of the festival has changed several times since the 1970s it has always hosted the same superb quality foods and wines, including, of course, as the centerpiece of the event, the famous chianti vintage.
The wonderful festival hosts food and wine stalls as well as a program of cultural and artistic events and entertainments. While you’re there you have the rare opportunity to speak with local wine producers who will explain how they make their wines and detail the production processes involved. You can also see their vineyards and take tours around their cellars!
The Rificolona In Florence.
The Rificolona is a traditional religious festival that is celebrated on the 8th September in honor of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. This ancient festival has been continuously celebrated in Florence since the 12th Century BC and there is even archeological evidence to show that it may have begun as early as the 7th Century BC, during the Roman Era.
In ancient times it was traditional for pilgrims and other country peasants to make the trip to Florence to celebrate the Virgin Mary at the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata. The visiting pilgrims and religious devotees would bring gifts as an offering to the Virgin Mary which were usually items from their own harvests. As well as giving offerings to the Virgin Mary the pilgrims and other travellers would light their way with lanterns that were usually made of simple cloth fabrics.
In modern times the Rificolona festival also hosts market stalls selling local foods on the 7th and 8th of September while the lantern lit procession is led by the city’s Cardinal on the night of the 8th. The procession leaves from the Piazza Santa Felicita and winds its way to the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, outside the grand Basilica.
Although the festival still has important religious overtones, anyone is welcome to join the lantern procession, with tourists and other visitors carrying lovely colored paper lanterns which can be bought in advance.
By the end of the evening most of the lanterns will be burned in memory of an old tradition whereby children from Florence would attempt to blow the country peasants’ lanterns to try to make them catch fire! So don’t be too surprised if you notice this type of thing still going on amongst the younger attendees.
The Grape Festival In Impruneta.
This amazing Grape festival was first founded in 1926 and takes place in September in Impruneta, outside of Florence in Tuscany. Over more than 90 years this festival has become one of the region’s most famous and attracts visitors from all over the globe.
Back in 1926, the festival was founded to help promote the regional wineries and their Chianti vintage during an economic crisis; and has since become something of a favorite among the festivities in the autumn months.
Also known as the La Festa dell’Uva di Impruneta, it is centered around the Piazza Buondelmonti in the historic heart of the town. During the festivities agricultural competitions are held between competing producers and stalls sell regional foods.
As the years went on the town was divided into 4 separate districts, or ‘rioni’ in Italian, that compete in a parade of floats and costumes through the town. The parade is one of the main entertainments and the highlight of the festival for children and adults alike.
Officially, the festival celebrates the abundant ‘fruit of life’ and the festival runs from the beginning of September until the 29th, paying homage to the hard work of agricultural workers and wineries that results in the year’s final harvest.
The Beer Festival In Murlo.
Taking place near Siena, in Tuscany, the Beer Festival in Murlo is an exciting 3 day showcase of some of the best breweries in the world; including breweries in Italy as well as American, Spanish, Belgian, Norwegian and British participants promoting the best of their wares. Taking place between the 3rd and the 5th of September and also known as the Small Breweries Festival, this is a must visit for tourists and Expats who are in the region during the fall.
Visitors to the festival are able to taste a wide variety of beers while they enjoy exhibitions and local food at market stalls. The owners and employees of the artisan breweries are also on hand to explain the brewing process and the factors that go into the production of their unique offerings.
The Carnival Of Viareggio.
Known as the ‘Carnevale di Viareggio’ in Italian, this annual carnival takes place in Viareggio, one of Tuscany’s most beautiful cities. The carnival is famous throughout Europe and is one of the undoubted highlights of the cultural calendar in Tuscany.
The fun carnival often attracts up to 500,000 visitors and includes masks, fancy dress and parades of floats with papier-mache caricatures of political figures, sportspeople and famous show business actors and musicians.
The festival is located on Viareggio’s beach front beside the city that is bursting with bars, restaurants, discos and entertainments. The festival runs for the entire month, lasting 4 weeks, with events, stalls, attractions and other interesting features to suit all tastes.
The event was founded in 1873 by wealthy merchants in the city and was a protest against the high levels of taxes that they were being forced to pay at that time. The carnival was halted during the World Wars but after 1946, when it was reinstated, it has grown in popularity to be one of the biggest annual events in Tuscany.
Major Festivals In Tuscany – Keeping Old Traditions Alive.
For thousands of years there have been fall festivals in Tuscany that range from somber religious events to lighter hearted food and wine festivals that celebrate the best of local agricultural and wine production.
The festivals of Tuscany are a major draw for tourists from all over the world which gives the local economy a great boost but they are also important for the natives. The festivals bring the community together, help to preserve unique regional customs and traditions while being enjoyable and fun for all involved! So if you’re in Tuscany during the fall season make sure not to miss the local celebrations of food, wine, truffles and ancient traditions.