Spring is in full swing and Italy is prepping for the tourist season; the time for higher prices is approaching. The weather is sunny and warming up but cool days should still be anticipated. The southern regions are already drawing crowds to the coastal areas.
There are food festivals in many parts of Italy. Artichoke and asparagus lovers – look no further than the Carciofi (artichokes) festival at Ladispoli near Rome.
Early April in Pontida (Bergamo) brings a historical re-enactment of the alliance between the Lombard cities of Bergamo, Brescia, Mantova, and Cremona against Federico Barbarossa. The event includes a parade in medieval costume and a historical pageant featuring a ballet of young girls in costume.
April 21 is the date of Rome’s founding (753BC). There are special events, festivals and concerts. Visitors can see a fireworks
display over the Tiber River and gladiator shows around the forum area.
April 23, Caresana (Piemonte region) – St. George’s Day is celebrated with the Palio dei Buoi, a parade of floats pulled by oxen. St. George is the patron saint of farm workers.
The weekend after Easter, Fermignano – Palio della Rana hosts a frog race. Contestants representing the seven neighborhoods of Urbino and Urbana (Marche region), dressed in historic costume, race with frogs atop small wheelbarrows trying to reach the finish line before the frog hops off. There is also a procession and food celebration.
April 25 is Festa della Liberazione, a national holiday during which all victims of WWII, from civilians to soldiers, partisans, and civilians, are remembered.
Good Friday, L’Aquila (Abruzzi) – An imposing procession at dusk includes artistic tableaux of Christ’s Passion presented by a cast of hundreds.
Adrano, Catania, Sicily – This Easter event features a folk representation called the Diavolata and Angelicata. A verbal battle between five devils led by Lucifer and an angel impersonated by a child. It ends with the triumph of good over evil.
Florence – Explosion of the Cart. At noon in Piazza del Duomo a cart full of fireworks is exploded, perpetuating a ceremony recalling the fire that used to be kindled during the Gloria at Easter mass and was then distributed to all Florence households. The tradition dates to the First Crusade when the Pazzino dei Pazzui was awarded some flint from the Holy Sepulcher.
Lanciano, Chieti. At noon on Easter in Piazza Plebiscito, the statues of Mary, St. John and Christ meet in a procession during which Mary learns of Christ’s Resurrection.
Piani degli Albanesi, Palermo, Sicily – Easter is celebrated according to the Byzantine rite: groups of women in elaborate 15th century costumes distribute red Easter eggs to the public. Nearby in Prizzi is the Dance of the Devils. Groups of men dressed as devils roam the town hunting for souls to capture but the angels capture the devils and lead them to the Madonna for the Resurrection.
RON PALILLO, 4-2-54. TV/Film actor best remembered for his role as a student on the ABC sitcom, “Welcome Back Kotter.” During the late 1990s Palillo taught at his alma mater the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
MARIA BELLO, 4-18-67. Actress, Writer, Activist. Voted one of the most powerful women in Hollywood for her activism. Founded “We Advance” organization.
WALTER LANTZ, 4-27-1900. Cartoonist, Principal Animator for Universal/Comcast best known for his characters “Woody the Woodpecker” and “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.”
SYLVIA MANGANO, 4-21-30. Italian actress born in Rome and trained as a dancer. Supported herself as a model and at 16 won a Rome beauty pageant that launched her into the movies. Her most famous role was in “Bitter Rice.” She appeared in “Cinema Paradiso.” Married to film director Dino De Laurentiis. Made tapestries in Spain where she died in Madrid.
TALIA SHIRE, 4-25-46. Actress most known for her role as Connie Corleone in the “Godfather” films and Adrian in the “Rocky” series 1976-85.
RAFFAELLO SANZIO da Urbino also known as Raphael, 4-6-1483. Italian painter and architect of the Renaissance renowned for his “Madonnas” in the Sistine Chapel and his frescoes in the Vatican Palace.
ENRICO NICOLA MANCINI (HENRY MANCINI), 4-16-24. American composer/arranger born in Cleveland (near the Little Italy neighborhood) and raised near Pittsburg. Academy
Awards winner for his film and TV music works “Moon River” and “Pink Panther” series. His parents emigrated from Abruzzi region of Italy.
VALERIE BERTINELLI, 4-23-60. Actress best known for her roles as Barbara in the TV sitcom “One Day at a Time” and “Hot in Cleveland.” Born in Wilmington, DE and famed for her cooking on the Food Network.
OLEG CASSINI, 4-11-13. Fashion designer for the stars celebrated for his wedding dresses and gowns designs and personal courtier to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy – creator of the “Jackie Look.”
SAMUEL ALITO JR., 4-1-50. Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 31, 2006, he became the second Italian American, joining Justice Antonin Scalia.