Summer is the best time to experience Italian culture if you like to find yourself fully immersed in the liveliness of this country’s most popular festival season.

Because of its pleasant temperatures, summer is the time of year when people spend more time outdoors and it’s also when the longest holidays happen, which for children can be as long as three months. This is the time to explore and enjoy the natural environment with fewer limitations than the coldest months, which, in southern Italy, remains a relative concept anyway.

Since we are reaching the end of this glorious season, we would like to celebrate it with a quick overview of the major festivals that took place in September. Perhaps we will manage to instill a bit of curiosity in you for next year’s travel planning.

The variety of celebrations that paint vibrant colors across the peninsula is astonishing—and September is no different.

Let’s go Storywalker! Let’s take a walk across Italy and see what has just been happening, as it does every year, in the squares, streets, and on the water.


La Macchina
La Macchina (Photo credits: Amras Carnesîr on Wikimedia Commons)

In Viterbo—50 miles northwest of Rome—on 3rd September, a 98-feet-high construction called a macchina (Italian for ‘machine’ and also ‘car’) was carried across the city in honor of the Patron Saint Rosa. A hundred men are responsible for taking this huge five-ton tower on their shoulders along a route of less than a mile. But they are not alone. Tens of thousands of people witness the parade, shouting, crying, praying, and supporting the group of porters in their test of strength and faith.

FVL 8951 Macchina di Santa Rosa Fiore del Cielo Foto di Riccardo Spinella
Macchina di Santa Rosa “Fiore del Cielo” (photo credits: Riccardo Spinella on Wikimedia Commons)


Have you ever heard of the Ladins?

They are the people of the Dolomites who speak the oldest language in the region, which was born from blending the Latin of the conquering Romans and the ancient languages ​​spoken by the native Rhaetian and Celtic tribes.

Canazei1 Marcopriz
Canazei (Photo credits: Marcopriz on Wikimedia Commons)

Although perfectly integrated into the life of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ladins also continued to dress, eat, and dance according to their traditions that have survived almost unspoiled to this day.

Every year at the end of the summer, usually in September, the Gran Festa da Istá is an opportunity to bring their traditional outfits to the streets of the lovely town surrounded by the enchanting peaks of the ‘Pale Mountains’.

Cultural Parade (Photo credits: Gran Festa da Istá Facebook page)
Cultural Parade (Photo credits: Gran Festa da Istá Facebook page)

For four days in Canazei, in Trento province, the Ladins, accompanied by the visitors that have come for the occasion, gather to celebrate their culture with music, food, dances, and a lot of folklore.
Musical performances from bands such as “Die Pucher”, “Die Muerztaler”, and the “Die Grenzland Tiroler” are highly acclaimed.


In the second week of September, the Calabrian town of Diamante, in Cosenza, spices up the atmosphere on its streets with five days of celebrations dedicated to the red chilli pepper. Exhibitions, medical conventions, sit-coms, cinema, cultural, and gastronomic events all take place.

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The Chili King – the Festival Ambassador (Photo credits: Peperoncino Festival Facebook Page)

You are also welcome to join in with the historic final of the “Italian Chili Pepper Eaters’ Championship”. The festival began in 1992 because an important detail was missing from this celebration. Apparently, Christopher Columbus’ caravels (ships) returned from the Americas full of potatoes and tomatoes, but above all chili peppers. This fact was forgotten by the people of Genoa during the 500-year anniversary of the “discovery” of the Americas. The inhabitants of Diamante didn’t like that so, in response, they created this festival, originally as a sporadic celebration. However, due to its success, it has now become an acclaimed yearly event. Two years later, the Chili Pepper Academy was born and the rest is history.

Varieties of red chili peppers – Peperoncini (Photo credits: Peperoncino Festival Facebook Page)


We cannot talk about the festivals that celebrate the relationship with the sea, which we also saw take place in the Argentario, without a proper look at one of the most powerful and influential Maritime Republics in the Mediterranean: Venice.

The historical Regatta is the main event in the annual calendar of Venetian Rowing (Voga Veneta in Italian) competitions, a discipline that is unique in the world and which has been practiced in the Venetian lagoon for millennia.

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Historical parade before the race – detail (Photo credits: Jon Mountjoy on Wikimedia Commons)

The competition consists of several races on unique types of boats.

The Pupparin, with an elegant and refined profile, can reach almost 33 feet in length and can have between one and four oars.

The Mascareta, a flat-bottomed boat, is used for fishing, regattas, and leisure.

The Caorlina is a working boat, which still retains the original features that can be seen reproduced in 16th-century prints. It is used for fishing but, above all, for the transport of fruit and vegetables from the islands to the city market in the early morning. Their main feature is that the shape of the stern and bow are the same, elongated and without a pole.

Last, but not least, the Gondolino. As the name suggests, it takes its shape from the gondola, but it is a lighter and more streamlined vessel measuring around 34 feet in length. It is this boat that is the protagonist in the last and most exciting leg of the competition—the champions’ regatta—when gondolinos will speed along the Grand Canal to the finish line in front of the Ca’ Foscari palace.

Historical boat in Rialto (Photo credits: Vopok on Wikimedia Commons)

We hope you have enjoyed this quick journey through some of our renowned festivals.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list, however, the main celebrations in September that we have shared are so varied that they nicely represent the uniqueness of our culture.

What would you like to hear about next?

Get in touch and let us know.


Words by Elisa Spampinato