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SEVEN famous events in Italy you don’t want to miss this spring

Whether you're a fan of music, sports, literature, opera, history, wine, or all of the above, there's an event for everyone in Italy this spring. Here's our selection of some of the best.

The Giro d'Italia is just one of many events you can catch in Italy this spring.
The Giro d'Italia is just one of many events you can catch in Italy this spring. Photo by Luca Bettini / AFP.

Vinitaly, 31st March-3rd April; 2nd-5th April

One of the most important dates in the calendar for wine lovers, this annual Verona-based fair draws producers and buyers from around the world for several days of talks, tastings, workshops and more.

A visitor tastes wine at a previous edition of the Vinitaly fair.

A visitor tastes wine at a previous edition of the Vinitaly fair. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)

While Vinitaly itself is an event for industry professionals, its spin-off ‘Vinitaly and the City’, held in the days leading up to main fair, specifically caters to dilettante oenophiles. More information about that here.

Genoa ‘Rolli Days’, 28th April-1st May

Genoa’s UNESCO-protected late-Renaissance and Baroque palaces, known as the Palazzi dei Rolli, are opened to the public for just two weekends a year, and this is one of them.

These are the buildings that were included in official lists or ‘rolls’ of noble lodgings that were chosen by lot to host important figures passing through Genoa from the late 16th century onwards; this year 30 of the 42 historic residences will be made accessible.

Entry is for the most part free, via a guided tour. More information here.

READ ALSO: Six Italian walking holiday destinations that are perfect for spring

Giro d’Italia, 6th-28th May

This year’s Giro d’Italia will start at the ‘Trabocchi Coast’ in Abruzzo and end in Rome, passing through cities, lakes and mountain ranges all over northern and central-southern Italy on the way.

If you’re in Naples on the 11th, Bergamo on the 21st, or Rome on the 28th, you’ll have the opportunity to see a leg of the race in person. More information here.

The pack of rides climb during the 116th edition of the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy), a 252,42 km cycling race from Bergamo to Como on October 8, 2022.

A pack of riders travels from Bergamo to Como. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP.

Venice Architecture Biennale, 20th May-26th Nov

Venice’s 18th International Architecture Exhibition, curated by the Ghanaian-Scottish architect and novelist Lesley Lokko, has ‘Laboratory of the Future’ as its theme.

There’s a particular focus on Africa this year, with over half of its 89 participants either from the continent or members of its diaspora. The exhibit will be split over six venues across the city, including the Giardini della Biennale gardens and the Arsenale.

More information here.

Turin Book Fair, 18th-22nd May

The Salone Internazionale del Libro Torino, Italy’s largest book fair, will be held as usual in the Lingotto Fiere exhibition space, taking Attraverso lo Specchio (‘Through the Looking Glass’), as its theme.

While open to book lovers as well as publishers and editors, this is primarily a commercial trade fair; if you’re looking for something on a smaller scale, the literary festivals Una Marina di Libri (‘A Shore of Books’) in Palermo and Taobuk in Taormina, Sicily, will both take place in June.

More information on the Turin Book Fair here.

READ ALSO: Eight of Italy’s best book fairs and literary festivals in 2023

A visitor views a book on May 9, 2019 at the Turin International Book Fair in Turin.

A visitor views a book on May 9, 2019 at the Turin International Book Fair in Turin. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP.

Infiorata di Noto, 19th-23rd May

The Infiorata di Noto – literally, the ‘Flowering of Noto’, sees a main street of this Baroque Sicilian city decorated with a carpet of colourful blossoms forming elaborate images that stretch over 700 square metres in total. 

The event traditionally takes place over the third weekend in May, and this year’s is no different; according to the Infiorata’s website, the exhibit will be open to the public from the morning of the 20th. More information here.

READ ALSO: IN PHOTOS: Italian village bursts into bloom in annual ‘flowering’

Verona Opera Festival, 16th June-9th September

The Verona Opera Festival starts in late spring and runs to the end of the summer, taking advantage of the balmy temperatures to put on open-air performances in Verona’s majestic Arena amphitheatre.

2023 marks the festival’s 100th edition since it was first founded in 1913, making this year’s a particularly special programme. Tickets for operas including Aida, Carmen and Tosca are already on sale; more information here.

A harpist rehearses at the Verona Arena in 2020.

A harpist rehearses at the Verona Arena in 2020. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP.

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For members


Five essential tips to escape the tourist crowds in Venice

Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, meaning that getting away from the crowds can be tricky. The Local’s reporter and Venice native Giampietro Vianello gives his tips on how to escape other tourists.

Five essential tips to escape the tourist crowds in Venice

With its artistic cachet and spellbinding atmosphere, Venice is one of the most popular art cities in Italy.

But, with an influx of over 20 million visitors every year, the city’s beauty has long been just as well-known worldwide as its overcrowding problems as its streets, main attractions and public transport are regularly overwhelmed by tourists during high season (from early June to late September).  

Does this mean that long queues, packed tours and crammed water buses are something that you should automatically account for when planning your visit to the floating city?

Well, not really, as there are some essential steps that you can take to escape the crowds and still make the most of your trip.

Pick your accommodation carefully

Venice is divided into six different sestieri (or districts). The San Marco and San Polo areas are home to some of the city’s most famous attractions and see large numbers of visitors during the day.

On the other hand, Cannaregio, Castello and the Giudecca island (part of the Dorsoduro district) are all largely residential areas and see far fewer tourists.

READ ALSO: Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

This makes them the best parts of town to stay in if you want to avoid a bagno di folla (literally, ‘crowd bath’) as soon as you step out of your hotel or B&B.

If you really value silence and tranquillity, you may also consider staying in one of the smaller islands around Venice, but remember: you’ll have to use public transport to reach the main island and your journey may not always be short. 

Ditch public transport if and when you can

Water buses, or vaporetti, on the most popular routes (to and from the Santa Lucia train station and along the Grand Canal) tend to get very crowded during the warm months, especially at peak times. 

If you balk at the prospect of standing next to dozens of fellow passengers in a tightly packed boat, then you may want to consider moving around on foot.

Venice is fairly small compared to other major cities across the country, meaning that, regardless of your destination, you’ll hardly ever have to walk for more than 30-35 minutes to reach it. 

Granted, walking may not always be an option (for instance, you may be carrying heavy luggage) and, even if it is, you may still have to weave your way through groups of tourists standing smack in the middle of a calle (street).

But slaloming around fellow pedestrians is still generally preferable to a crammed boat ride – and it’ll be free of charge naturally.

Get off the beaten track

As in the case of all other major art cities in the country, Venice’s most popular attractions, including the Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto bridge, can get very crowded during peak tourist season.

Luckily though, the city has no shortage of hidden gems which generally attract smaller numbers of visitors but are just as enjoyable as some of the more popular sights.

Bridge of Sighs

Venice’s main attractions see very large numbers of tourists during the warm months, but there’s no shortage of alternative cultural sites worth visiting in town. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

From lesser-known churches (like the Chiesa di San Pantaleone and Chiesa di San Zaccaria) to the Jewish ghetto and the traditional gondola boatyards (squeri), there’s plenty that’s worth discovering.

READ ALSO: Five ‘secret’ places in Venice you need to visit

And remember: the small islands surrounding Venice – not just Murano and Burano but also Torcello, Sant’ Erasmo and San Francesco nel Deserto – all have their very own hidden treasures.

Off-peak times and after-hours tours

If you really cannot resist the allure of the more popular attractions, the best way to escape the crowds is to start your day early. 

Most museums and other cultural sites in town open at 9am and turning up around that time will likely save you a good deal of queueing. 

In some cases, you may also avoid queueing by booking your visit online and grabbing skip-the-queue tickets, though that is not possible for all attractions in town. 

It’s also worth noting that some museums hold special after-hours openings during the warm months (see these state-run museums). When visiting at these times, you’ll likely share the museum with just a handful of people.

Avoid restaurants in central areas

Restaurants in central areas (and especially the fancy canal-side venues) tend to get insanely busy during the warm months, meaning you may have to wait over an hour to get a table or may be turned away with a scusate, siamo al completo stasera (‘sorry, we’re fully booked tonight’).

Lunch in Venice

Restaurants in Venice, especially canal-side venues, tend to get extremely busy in high season. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

There are two things you can do to avoid this: you can either try to book a table well in advance or you can move away from the more touristy areas (San Marco and San Polo districts) and look for a venue in one of the other areas, which is generally what locals do by default.

Speaking of locals, while it may not always work out, trying to extract tips on local eateries from residents is always worth a shot, especially if you’re looking for an authentic bacaro (typical Venetian tavern).