I Love Italian Travel - January Attractions of Central Italy
So you are thinking of visiting central Italy in January, but you just aren't sure what to see and what to do. Don't despair; you may find many special events that simply are not available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. Get rolling; January is not very far away. We start our virtual tour in Tuscany on the western coast and then travel east to the Marches and Abruzzi on the Adriatic Sea. Then we almost complete the circle by visiting the Vatican City in Rome.
A major attraction of Tuscany in January is Il Palio di Sant'antonio Abate in Buti near Pisa which is held on the first Sunday after January 17. The festivities begin with a procession of people proudly wearing the colors of their neighborhood. In the afternoon a horse race pits local neighborhoods against each other. The winner receives a special banner, which is known as the Palio.
According to Italian tradition that is honored in the Marches and elsewhere, Befana is a good witch who rewards good children with sweets and punishes the bad ones with coal every the 6th of January. Local residents claim that she resides in Urbania. The celebrations begin around January 2, culminating with a parade on the night of January 5. Make sure to visit the beautiful Renaissance hill town of Urbino, a UNESCO World Heritage site located only about 10 miles (17 kilometers) away.
Hundreds of costumed participants reenact the Three Kings arrival at the Manger on January 5 in Rivisondoli, Abruzzi. Every January the village of Picciano, Abruzzi hosts a traditional Befana Festival similar to the one described above. In mid-January the Abruzzi village of Fara Filiorum Petri is one of several others hosting a Farchie Festiva to honor of St. Anthony. You'll enjoy huge bonfires with torches over ten meters long (more than thirty feet) and a meter wide, as well as firecrackers, songs, and stories. In Ortona mid-January means a special festival in honor of Saint Sebastian with the launching of a brightly colored small boat filled with fireworks. According to tradition the length of the boat's journey indicates the success of the coming agricultural and fishing seasons.
Finish your tour in the Vatican City, where on Epiphany (January 6), hundreds of people dressed in medieval costumes march down the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican, carrying symbolic gifts for the Pope. In St Peter's Basilica the Pope pronounces a morning mass to commemorate the Wise Men visit bearing gifts for Jesus. And Rome being Rome, you'll find lots to do and to see in January.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which includes information on Italian wine and food.