July weather is hot throughout Italy and festivals and special events are in full swing.
July 1 - Giostra della Quintana in Foligno (Perugia). Over 600 participants wearing traditional 17th century costumes compete in jousting events. Thousands of spectators attend this traditional tournament which is repeated on the second Sunday in September.
July 2 - Siena’s horse race (Palio) around the main square, Piazza del Campo, begins in the morning with a trial run. In the afternoon, the horses and riders are blessed in the churches of the various quarters participating in the race. In the late afternoon, a cortege in historical costume parades around the piazza to the peal of the bell in the Mangia Tower. They’re off and running at about 6:30 p.m. The next day, the winning district parades with the banner through the town. They do it all over again on Aug. 16.
July 2 - Feast of the Madonna della Bruna is a religious celebration that takes place in Matera. This interesting town of sassi (cave dwellings) spotlights a float decorated with papier-mache’ friezes and statues bearing representations of the Madonna. At the end of the ceremony, the float is torn apart and burned followed by a spectacular fireworks display.
July 5-6 - The Sanctuary of San Costantino is the site of the L’ardia di Costantino horse race in Sedilo, Sardinia. The race takes place twice, in the evening and again the following morning. This event recalls the victory of Constantine the Great over Maxentius in 312. The riders race from a field where an old stone cross stands to the church rounding it seven times.
July 10 - U Fistinu (Palermo). This is the most important Sicilian celebration in honor of Santa Rosalia, the city’s patron saint. A gigantic float carrying musicians is paraded through the streets. Evening time showcases a fireworks display.
July 16 - Feast of the Redentore in Venice. It takes place in the church of the Redentore on the Giudecca and recalls the end of the plague of 1576. Throughout the day, pilgrims visit the church and at night, following a parade of decorated boats, there is a magnificent fireworks show. On the following day, there is a procession from San Marco to the church of the Redentore over a temporary bridge of boats.
July 25 – Joust of the Bear (La Giostra dell’ Orso) in Pistoia. This joust with origins in the 14th century is splendid in historical and folk elements. There is a contest between 12 riders, three for each quarter of the town, who must lance, at a gallop, two targets in the form of bears.
July is also a very popular month for concerts and operas including those in Verona, Lake Como, Arcidosso, Toscana, and Viterbo in the Lazio region.