The Vigil of the Francigena Way
The Vigil of the Francigena Way
Until October, various locations along the Francigena Way
An event-filled line up returns this year to animate the historical Francigena Way, the ancient road that has lead pilgrims from England to Rome for over a thousand years. Historical re-enactments, concerts, medieval banquets, theatre shows and ballad recitals are taking place all summer long along this scenic route. See www.vegliefrancigene.it for the full programme.
The Palio in Siena
August 16, piazza del Campo, Siena
The most famous horse race in the world, complete with colourful medieval costumes and breathtaking speeds, takes place twice a year around Siena's piazza del Campo. Most prefer to watch it on T.V., but those feeling brave can view it at the heart of the action, under the scorching sun in the centre of the square.
July 18 - August 18, various locations in Tuscany
Music and wine: a centuries-old combination from paradise. Experience music, dance, theater and art while sipping a glass of vino in some of Tuscany's best wineries. See www.bolgherimelodyfestival.it for locations and programmes.
Until September 2, around the historical center of Pietrasanta
To celebrate his eightieth birthday the Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero has decided to enliven the seaside town of Pietrasanta with a major exhibition of his work. Over one hundred works of art will be displayed throughout the historical centre, making it a free and playful addition to a summer trip to the beach. Source: turismo.intoscana.it
Barrel rolling contest
August 26, Montepulciano historic centre
In one of the more bizarre Tuscan town traditions, participants in this annual contest in Montepulciano must roll 80kg barrels up a hill in the town. Delegates from the city's eight neighbourhoods compete, cheered on by thousands of locals and tourists. www.braviodellebotti.com
LaChapelle photography exhibit
Until September 4, Lu.C.C.A. Centre of Contemporary Art, via della Fratta 36, Lucca
Legendary American photographer David LaChapelle is known for combining hyper-realistic aesthetic with social messages. His striking images have been on the cover of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, and he has photographed celebrities from Madonna and Eminem to David Beckham and Muhammad Ali. Over fifty stunning shots will be on display. www.luccamuseum.com
Until September 20, various locations around Florence
It's fun and festivities all summer long with Florence's Estate Fiorentina programme of events. Residents, tourists, young people, elderly and families can all make the most of the city this summer, with several events every night often free or at low cost: concerts, dance and theatre shows, open-air cinema screenings, art exhibitions and much more. Events will focus on four locations in town: the Limonaia at Villa Strozzi, Las Palmas in piazza Ghiberti, Off Bar at the Lago dei Cigni park and Il Giardino del Buon Vino at San Niccolo. www.firenzestate.it
Calici sotto le stelle
August 10, various locations around Italy
What could be more romantic than watching shooting stars with a glass of Chianti in your hand? Every year in August San Lorenzo's tears (Perseids meteor shower) light up the sky in Italy. The annual Calici sotto le stelle celebrates this event with wine tasting, music and other entertainment in piazzas and wineries across Italy. The programme for Tuscany will be available soon at www.movimentoturismovino.it.
La Versiliana Festival
Until August 25, various locations in Tuscany
Contemporary artists take to the stage in venues along the Tuscan coast from Pietrasanta to Viareggio. The festival features a huge range of events, everything from dance to orchestra performances and art shows. Full programme details are available at www.laversilianafestival.it.
August 15, everywhere in Italy
Any Italian worth his salt will celebrate this national holiday by heading to the beach, or at the very least the countryside. Sweltering Florence is usually left to the hoards of tourists, but if you do happen to still be in the city try cooling down by joining the riotous sandcastle building competition for kids at the Easy Living beach.
Fiesole Bike Tours
Until September 29, various routes in Fiesole
Grab your bike and see Fiesole from a different point of view. From children to hardy bikers seeking a challenge, Fiesole is a miniature paradise when explored on two wheels, and the free tours with Fiesole Bike go through villa gardens, olive groves and stunning landscapes. Bikes can be rented on request, and reservation is required. See www.fiesoleforyou.it for days, times and meeting points.
A summer in Tuscany would not be complete without a visit to at least one of these numerous gastronomic treats on offer. The seasonal local food celebrated at these sagre may not always be to everyone's liking, but with so many to choose from there is something even for those with more timid taste buds. Here are some of the best in August:
Antony Gormley exhibit
Until August 20, Galleria Continua, via del Castello 11, San Gimignano
One of the greatest contemporary sculptors of the moment, British Antony Gormley combines the historic spaces of San Gimignano with photo-luminescent matrices, gigantic ironwork structures and unnerving elevated life-size statues. www.galleriacontinua.com
Wine days in Arezzo
Until October 17, various locations in Arezzo
Any wine enthusiasts out there? Numerous renowned wineries in the Arezzo area are open to the public on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons: an exceptional chance to visit cellars and vineyards and to taste wines with the wine-makers. See www.stradadelvino.arezzo.it for a list of wineries and times.
The Venice Effect
July 27-August 5, the La Venezia quarter of Livorno
An extravaganza of dance, theatre, literature and music, aiming to reconstruct the essence of Venice in the evocative La Venezia area of Livorno. Street theatre performances, guided tours of secret passages, puppet shows and ethnic music concerts from all over the world are just some of the treats in store. www.livornoeffettovenezia.it
July 20-August 25, Torre del Lago, Via delle Torbiere (LU)
Open-air performances of Tosca, La Boheme, Madame Butterfly and La Traviata, just a few steps away from the villa where Giacomo Puccini lived and worked, and where he is now buried. www.puccinifestival.it
August 20-26, Palazzo Mediceo, Via 24 Maggio 22, Seravezza (LU)
Readings, aperitivos, children's games, a photography competition and of course theatre shows all about our best loved English playwright. The main events will take place at Seravezza, with others at Viareggio and Lucca. See www.shakespearefestival.it for locations, as well as information on English language events.
Grey Cat Festival
July 29 - August 23, various locations in the province of Grosseto
The annual series of classical and jazz concerts around the region. www.eventimusicpool.it
10-19 August, Rispescia (GR)
A festival dedicated to ecology, solidarity and culture. Music, cinema, events for children, and traditional organic and vegetarian food. www.festambiente.it
22-25 August, Maresca (PT)
Festival of sounds and colours in the province of Pistoia. A lively and joyful series of concerts for all the family. www.cultura.pistoia.it
July 10 - August 24, Valdarno and the province of Arezzo
A festival dedicated to the music of immigrants, with the intention to spread knowledge, solidarity, peace and mutual respect. www.orientoccidente.net
Barga Jazz Festival
17-25 August, Barga (LU)
This fantastic jazz festival is in its 23rd year and is based around a competition for arrangements and compositions for the Barga Jazz Orchestra. www.bargajazz.it