Insider's Guide: Summer events in Italy 2016

Italy is full to the brim with cultural events of every variety. Historical pageants, glitzy and glamorous international film showings, food and drink (mostly the second one...!), a little something for the action sports enthusiasts, and grand artistic installations, there truly is a little something for everyone!

If we were to list them all, we would have a page that scrolls for infinity, so we have cherry-picked a few of our favourites that are happening this summer and can be enjoyed by all. 

1 Bardolino Wine Festival

Bardolino Wine Festival, Bardolino, Lake Garda, Italy

When: 29th September- 3rd October 2016 

Each year the famous wine-making town of Bardolino in Lake Garda celebrates the new harvest of grapes; the grapes produced in this region contribute to some of the delicious local red wines that the area is famous for. Sounds like a good excuse to have a party to us! 

The Bardolino Wine Festival holds a special place in our hearts over here at Inghams, and we want to share the joy and mirth there is to be found with our guests. There will be a showcase of delicious wines alongside the famous food stalls that provide typical fast but delicious homemade Italian food snacks of the region; such as risotto, different varieties of pasta and sauces, along with typical antipasti from the local farms and vineyards.

Make sure you try the Bardolino Classico, a fruity light red, or a Chiaretto, Bardolino’s very own Rose wine. 

This is all accompanied by a selection of musical concerts both classical and contemporary. On the last night there is a spectacular firework display over the lake to see the whole thing off with a bang! 

Inghams recommends: 

Park Hotel Gritti sits right on the shore of Lake Garda with its own outdoor swimming pool and sun terraces. Ideally located in Bardolino, the promenade where the festival is being held is only a stone’s throw away. The hotel also has great access to some of the outstanding restaurants and wine bars in the area. 

The Floating Piers

© Christo and Jeanne-Claude/ photo by Wolfgang Volz

The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy

When: 18th June- 3rd July 2016 

It’s been a long awaited and anticipated project that was finally completed in the summer of 2016. 

Italian artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created some of the most visually breathtaking art installations of the 20th and 21st century, using the wild and beautiful landscapes as their canvas. With bright coloured fabric as their media of choice, they have been known to wrap trees, buildings and infrastructure up to create visually striking installations that only stand in place for a few weeks before they are gone. 

With this in mind, the inhabitants of Lake Iseo are pumped full of excitement that their beautiful landscape has become the chosen destination for the next artistic installation. This time Christo and Jeanne-Claude have literally bridged several of the towns, islands and locations on the lake with floating ‘piers’ that are safe to walk on and swaddled in the richest deep golden cloth, which radiates from the murky surface of the lake. The rigid geometric forms of the piers both compliment and contradict the organic twists and curves of the shore of Lake Iseo

While entrance to walk on the piers isn’t guaranteed, nonetheless this is an incredibly powerful installation in this stunningly beautiful landscape and is well worth a visit, even if you just view it from afar. 

Inghams recommends: 

As one of the main towns and geographical sites that the floating piers installation connects, the Castello Oldofredi hotel in Peschiera Maraglio has some of the best views across the lake and installation, and is ideally located so you can see the work of art from the artists’ point of view.

Sagra De San Giovanni

©Lago di Como tourism

Sagra de San Giovanni, Lake Como, Italy

When: 23rd June- 25th June 2016

One of the oldest festivals to be found in the Lake Como region of Italy, the Sagra de San Giovanni is held on the last weekend of June and celebrates the vibrant heritage of Como

A weekend of pageantry, folklore, art, and tasters of Renaissance Italy, the San Giovanni festival brings together a huge community spirit to remember and preserve the culture from this region. 

Highlights of the festival appear once the sun sets and continues into the small hours of the morning when hundreds of floating lamps are launched onto the surface of Lake Como alongside a fabulous display of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky and the surrounding mountains. 

The festival of lights doesn’t stop there however, upon the arrival of the sun in the morning, a parade of decorated boats covered with flowers begins. This parade sets the tone for the day with folk music, dancing, flag throwing competitions and of course, plenty of delicious food and drink to go around!

Inghams recommends: 

With unbeatable views across Lake Como, Grand Hotel Cadenabbia in Cadenabbia is conveniently located and right on the shore of the lake, making the most of those outstanding views. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, a garden a panoramic roof top terrace- perfect for watching the fireworks from!

Verona Opera

Verona Opera, Verona, Italy

When: 24th June- 27th August 2016

The world famous Verona Opera runs for two months during the summer, and is so popular that tickets are almost instantly snapped up! 

This year the Verona Opera returns with Aida by Verdi, a performance that is renowned for its lavish scenery and costumes. But there are further performances of La Traviata and Il Trovatore by Verdi, as well as Turandot by Puccini. And last, but not the least, there will be a performance of Bizet’s much loved opera, Carmen

We mentioned before that tickets are almost instantly snapped up, but luckily you can book and arrange your trip to the Verona Opera through Inghams! For any of our guests that are staying in Verona, we can arrange opera tickets for you, and the same offer extends to our guests who are staying in Lake Garda (transport to and from Verona is included). Allow us to do the work and you can spend a glamorous evening at the opera! 

You will need to discuss your visit to the Verona Opera with our supportive team of reservations consultants. 

Inghams recommends: 

Located right in the heart of historic Verona, you couldn’t go wrong with the Hotel Milano. Just 50m from the main Piazza Brà, this is a stylish and contemporary hotel that makes a perfect home base for your visit to Verona and the opera. Even if you are not visiting the opera, the ideal location of this hotel makes museum and gallery hopping easy and fun. 

Festa Del Redentore

© Citypass Venezia Unica

Festa del Redentore, Venice, Italy

When: 17th July 2016

To fully appreciate this spectacular traditional festival that takes place in Venice, a little historical context is needed...

During the years of 1575-1577 Venice was being ravaged by the black plague that wiped out more than a third of its population. With conditions so dire, the Senate vowed in 1576 to erect a church in honour of Christ the Redeemer if their city was spared from the plague. And the very next year in 1577, the city was finally declared disease-free! To celebrate, there was a great festival and a church service was held in the new church. 

As you can guess, the Festa del Redentore has passed down through the years but is still a pinnacle calendar even for the Venetians, and one that sits very close to their hearts. Still celebrated with a grand firework show, a gondola regatta, and the Ponte Votivo (‘votive bridge’) across the Grand Canal is opened with a special ceremony at the Redentore Church. 

The festival is enormous fun, and since most of it takes place on the water, boats and gondolas are packed with festive party-goers who turn out to watch the firework display and have a good time!

Inghams recommends: 

If you’ve come to Venice to visit its splendid waterways and travel about via gondola, then look no further than Hotel Casa Nicolò Priuli. Located on a narrow canal, just a few minute’s walk from St. Mark’s Square, this is an elegant hotel with a peaceful and relaxing interior, the perfect way to capture the essence of your holiday to Venice in one building. 

Riva Music Fest

Riva Music Festival, Riva del Garda, Lake Garda, Italy

When: 24th July- 3rd August 2016

The town of Riva del Garda on Lake Garda has been, for the last 27 years, one of the most important meeting points in the classical music industry. 

Both masters and student musicians combined, this fabulous festival presents a different performance every evening for fifteen days and nights. These performances, directed and performed by professors of international calibre, showcase a range of music from classical and opera, through to orchestra, singing, piano and more. 

Taking place in various venues across this picturesque Italian town on the shores of Lake Garda, the music festival might be performed on the promenade under the setting sun, or making the most of the unique acoustics in an old church!

Inghams recommends: 

Inghams have a truly fantastic portfolio of hotels in Riva del Garda, but one that takes the crown is the Hotel Europa. Sitting right on the shore of the lake, this hotel has a fantastic outdoor terrace with views across the water, as well as a heated outdoor swimming pool. Perfect location to enjoy the Riva Music Festival! 


Venice Film Festival, Venice, Italy

When: 31st August- 10th September 2016 

Considered to be one of the ‘Big 3’- the Venice International Film Festival rubs shoulders with the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival. The whole event comes with a grand air of prestige; the event was founded in 1932 during the early days of the Silver Screen, and has built up a great reputation over the years. Part of the Venice Biennale, a great festival that incorporates dance, contemporary music, theatre, and architectural exhibitions, the Venice International Film Festival is arguably the most famous one. 

Taking place in late August through to early September, the awards given at the festival go towards the usual categories like best director, best actress/actor, as well as best technical contributions (including cinematographers, screenplay writers, etc.).

With a variety of high-profile names from across the globe snapping up the top awards at the festival, the actual prestigious event itself is usually reserved for the A-Listers, but the spirit of the festival is alive in Venice and you can find many other activities running alongside the main show. 

Inghams recommends:

The Hotel Locanda la Corte offers a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city at the end of the day. A private courtyard restaurant and comfortable rooms, this hotel is still surprisingly central in Venice, giving you the perfect base to explore this fabulous city on foot. 

Riva Bike Fest

© Riva BIKE Festival 

Bike Festival, Riva del Garda, Lake Garda, Italy

When: 29th April- 1st May 2016 

Marking the start of the European mountain bike season, this is a real festival for those who can’t get enough of their action sports in the summer! 

At the beginning of May in 2016 the MTB scene travels from all across Europe to Riva del Garda for one of the biggest conventions in the industry. 3,000 active athletes, 40,000 visitors, and more than 150 exhibitors all crammed into one tiny space of time.

With the whole weekend action-packed (literally!) the programme is very exciting. Kicking off with the Bike Expo and the Rocky Mountain BIKE Marathon, there will be a weekend of award-giving, workshops, classes, trials and tryouts as well as late-night parties that last into the evening. 

Inghams recommends: 

Hotel Villa Nicolli is set slightly outside of Riva del Garda, but comes with a state of the art wellness centre. Action sports lovers are well known to need somewhere to truly unwind and relax at the end of the day, and it doesn’t get much better than this hotel with its outdoor swimming pool to boot. 

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