Italian holidays

Discover Italy: 100 Unique Italian Traditions and Customs



Ciao friends! Get ready to dive into the most fascinating Italian traditions that make my culture so special. From food festivals that tantalize the taste buds to wild Carnival celebrations, we’ll explore the origins of practices that showcase the Italian flair for life.

Together, we’ll discover holiday rituals that have been passed down for generations and quirky beliefs to ward off bad luck. You’ll learn how cherished customs strengthen family bonds and regional identities. Whether it’s songs, symbols, or serenades, these traditions capture the Italian spirit in all its passion and gusto.

To give you a full picture of traditions in Italy, I selected the 100 top traditions and customs that are in my opinion the most important for Italians but also most interesting for foreigners to learn about. I divided these 100 popular traditions into 6 main sections. Feel free to jump to the ones that interest you the most. 

So come along for a fun adventure through the heart of Italian culture! By the end, you’ll understand what makes these enduring traditions such an integral part of our national identity.

Italy Food Traditions & Italian Dinner Customs

With food being such an important aspect of Italian culture and Italians’ life it’s obvious that I am going to place Italian food traditions at the top of this post. Let’s look at the 12 Italian customs and traditions surrounding food and dining I’ve carefully handpicked for you.

  1. Traditional breakfasts in Italy vary with the seasons: Cappuccino and cornetto warm up winters, while Brioscia and Granita refresh summers, particularly in Sicily. Every region has its own breakfast so if you want to learn more, make to sure to read this article all about the morning meal in Italy.
  1. No cappuccino after 11 a.m. – Italians firmly believe that milk-based coffee is strictly a morning delight.
  1. Espresso breaks are essential throughout the day, especially at work. In summer, the South enjoys a cool treat with homemade iced coffee, known as ‘caffe ghiacciato.’
  1. Italians opt for water, soft drinks, or wine with meals, shunning juices or milk as companions to their culinary delights.
  1. Hosting guests is a cherished tradition, and Italians often begin cooking only when their company arrives. The shared experience of cooking, chatting, laughing, and enjoying wine adds to the warmth of the gathering.
  1. Italians cherish routines, and dining is no exception. Regular meal times, substantial lunches, and smaller dinners are the norm, always enjoyed in the company of others. Standing while eating is only acceptable for cornetto or ice cream, though. In the North, dinners tend to be earlier, while in the South, they’re much later.
  1. The delightful practice of “scarpetta” involves mopping up the leftover sauce on the plate with bread at the end of a meal. However, Italians never serve bread with pasta dishes, so pasta together with garlic bread or bruschetta is a big no-no.
  1. Mixing pasta with the main course is another culinary mistake in Italy. For example, chicken breast and pasta are never served on the same plate.
  1. To unwind, Italians indulge in aperitivo – a cherished tradition where friends and family gather to enjoy pre-dinner drinks and appetizers before a leisurely meal.
Italian dining traditions with sweets after Sunday lunch
  1. Dessert after Sunday lunch is a sweet affair, with homemade cakes or delectable “pasticcini” from local pastry shops delighting taste buds and ending the meal on a high note.
  1. Extra traditional Italian wedding lunches often include the hearty and flavorful dish “Ziti al forno,” or baked ziti, adding to the joyous celebrations of the special day. If you are wondering what’s the connection, here you go. The name ziti means engaged in Southern Italian dialects, and it’s probably the practice of making this pasta for this occasion (aka engagement parties) that gave it its name!
  1. While every region has its special recipes, many are shared by the entire country. However, there’s still something that differs when cooking them. Can you guess what it is? That’s the use of mostly butter in the North vs. the use of mostly extra virgin olive oil in the South. That’s not to say that no oil is used in the north, and vice versa, but that’s the main preference.

Italian Traditions and Holidays

Let’s move to the section you are probably looking forward to the most, typically Italian Holiday Traditions. As Italy is a nation where celebrations make an important part of life and culture, it is obvious we are going to have several traditions tied to the 3 most important days on the Calendar – Christmas, New Year, and Easter. Here are the best 20 traditions around the holidays.

Aosta Christmas Market in Italy
Aosta Christmas Market

Italian Christmas Traditions

  1. Christmas Markets: The enchanting markets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations, offer a delightful array of crafts, gifts, and seasonal treats. These make a great family and friends outing on colder December days, a time for both kids and adults to indulge. Italians’ favorite Christmas market treats include ‘vin brulé’ and apple fritters in the North, arrosticini, and panpepato in central Italy, baba` and pizza al portafoglio in the South.
  1. Presepe Vivente in Matera: Witnessing the breathtaking live Nativity scenes in Matera, complete with actors and animals, brings the Christmas story to life. Although this one is extra special, many Italians simply enjoy live nativity scenes in their region. Nearly every region has its own, from the Presepe Vivente of Custonaci in Sicily to the Tuscan one in Equi Terme.
  1. Feast of the Seven Fishes: Celebrated on Christmas Eve, this delectable seafood feast showcases a variety of fish dishes, symbolizing abundance and blessings. While this one is not a tradition all Italians embrace around Christmas, you’ll always find a fish dish on our tables on Christmas Eve. As for my Sicilian family, Christmas Eve was all about eating fish and our favorite dish was the ‘anguille’, or European eels. They might not look pretty, but I promise they taste amazing.
  1. La Befana (Italian Christmas Witch): On Epiphany Eve, children eagerly await La Befana, a kind-hearted witch who brings gifts and sweets to good children.
  1. Epifania (Epiphany): The day of the Epiphany, on January 6th, marks the end of the Christmas season with festive processions and religious celebrations. This is sometimes called ‘Festa dei Tre Magi’ or ‘Giorno dei Re Magi’ as it’s all about the 3 Magi meeting little Gesus after his birth.
  1. Panettone: This iconic Italian sweet bread, studded with candied fruits, is a staple during Christmas celebrations and gifts to friends and family. You can learn more about it here.
  1. Tortellini al brodo: A cherished Italian Christmas tradition, this comforting dish of delicate tortellini served in a flavorful broth warms hearts during holiday gatherings. Did you know that broth was an essential part of any banquet in the Middle Ages (Medioevo) because they were warming and just detectable, especially in Winter time?

    Read more about Italian Christmas traditions here.

Italian New Year Traditions

  1. Cotechino con lenticchie: Italians indulge in Cotechino, a savory pork sausage, and lentils, believed to bring prosperity and good luck in the New Year.
  1. Wear Red underwear and throw it away: Wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is believed to bring good fortune, and throwing it away after midnight signifies a fresh start. This is a tradition that goes back to the Roman empire, where celebrations around the New Year would require red attire. The tradition goes as far as specifying that the red underwear one wears should be gifted and even worn inside out on the 31st of December to then re-wear it the correct way the next day. Luckily, the latter part is not very much practiced.
  1. Open the window before midnight: To let the old year out and welcome the new one in, Italians open their windows just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
  1. Pomegranate for good luck (melograno in Italian): Eating pomegranate seeds on New Year’s Day is thought to bring wealth and prosperity. That’s why it’s a custom to give this fruit around the Holidays, making it a perfect gift to the host along with other delicacies.
  1. Cheers with bubbly wine (Brindisi con lo spumante in Italian): Toasting the New Year with sparkling wine is a jubilant tradition to usher in a year of joy and celebration.

You probably knew this, but did you know that while wine serving etiquettes say that bottles should be open silently so as not to let all the gas out, on New Year’s Eve that pop is fundamental in Italy? We call it ‘botto’ and that sound is part of a series of traditions to scare away evil spirits and encourage prosperous new beginnings.

  1. Fireworks and even gunshots: Italians ring in the New Year with dazzling fireworks displays and sometimes celebratory gunshots, adding excitement to the festive night, as well as scaring away those evil spirits.
  1. Throwing out old things from the balcony: To make way for new beginnings, some Italians toss old items from their balconies on New Year’s Eve.
  1. Going out with pockets full of money on 1st January morning: A belief that starting the year with money in your pocket will ensure prosperity and financial well-being throughout the year.

Italian Easter Traditions:

  1. Colomba: The Easter counterpart to Christmas panettone, this dove-shaped sweet bread is a delightful treat enjoyed during this Spring holiday. Although not as popular abroad as the Christmas panettone, Colomba is a must on our tables around this time. Any leftovers are used to make delicious treats with custard and even Colomba Tiramisu.
  1. Easter chocolate egg: Exquisitely decorated chocolate eggs, often containing surprises inside, are a joyous Easter tradition, especially for children. I assure you that adults enjoy those eggs as much as the little ones. That’s why they are now available in so many variations, including ones flavored with alcohol. Easter eggs are called ‘uova di Pasqua’ in Italian.
  1. Holidays away from the city, preferably in nature: Many Italians prefer spending Easter in the countryside or by the coast, embracing nature’s beauty and tranquility. Spending this holiday with the family is not as important as with Christmas and New Year. I will tell you why later on in this article.
  1. Lasagna, lamb & egg dishes for Easter Sunday lunch: The Easter Sunday lunch table features sumptuous lasagna, succulent lamb, and egg-based dishes, symbolizing rebirth and new life. Torta Pasqualina is another one, and so is Sardinian Coccoi (Easter bread with eggs), also known as Pupo con l’uovo in Sicily.
  1. Pasquetta: Easter Monday, known as Pasquetta, is celebrated with outdoor picnics, family outings, and spending quality time with loved ones. Pasquetta is like Easter part 2; we enjoy a second day of celebrations, just on a more relaxed note. If you don’t believe that Italians love celebrating that much, this should bring it home for you.

Italian traditions about family

Italian Family Traditions & Lifestyle

To me, traditions scream of family, and because both family and traditions are an essential part of an Italian’s life, it’s a must that I share with you the most important Italian traditions around the family. I’ll also be adding a few ones related to daily life in Italy.

  1. Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi: This Italian saying translates to “Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you want.” It reflects the importance of spending the Christmas holidays with immediate family while taking Easter celebrations more casually. This explains why Italians love to travel around Easter.
  1. Naming kids, especially the first one, in honor of the paternal grandpa or grandma depending on the gender. A cherished tradition in Italy, children are often named after their paternal grandparents, with sons usually named after grandfathers and daughters after grandmothers. In the South, especially in strictly traditional families, this is more a silent rule than a tradition.
  1. Regular countryside days with the extended family. Italians treasure spending time in the countryside, often enjoying picnics and gatherings with the extended family, known as “scampagnata,” embracing nature and each other’s company.
  1. Kissing on the cheeks: A customary greeting in Italy, a kiss on both cheeks is a warm expression of affection shared among family members and close friends.
  1. Eating the main meals together is a daily habit. Italians don’t like eating alone. Family meals hold a special place in Italian culture, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner being cherished moments to come together and share stories, laughter, and good food.
  1. Spending Sundays with the extended family in the South, and alone doing relaxing things to re-energize in the North. In the South, Sundays are often dedicated to family gatherings and socializing, while in the North, some prefer to recharge alone by engaging in relaxing activities.
  1. Going out & leaving everything on. A precautionary measure, Italians often leave lights or electronic devices on when going out to create an impression of someone being home, deterring potential thieves.
  1. Never swimming after eating: A widely held belief is that swimming after eating can lead to indigestion, so Italians usually wait a while after a meal before taking a dip. As much as we love our food we also hate indigestion, hence why it’s popular to have some water and bay leaf infusion after a rich meal. This is something my grandma would make for me all the time.
  1. Never stay directly under the AC or in front of a fan, or going out with wet hair. Italians take extra precautions to avoid potential health issues, believing that staying directly under air conditioning or fans, or going outside with wet hair, could lead to sickness. It’s okay if you want to call us hypochondriacs, haha, as we do have this tendency.
  1. Neighbors are often seen as an extended family in the South, while in the North, they are treated as merely acquaintances. In the South, strong community bonds lead to neighbors being considered part of the extended family, while in the North, people tend to be more individualistic in their interactions.
  1. Being on time in the North is very important, while in the South, we are usually more elastic with time. Punctuality holds great significance in the North, where time is respected, while the South tends to adopt a more relaxed approach to scheduling and timing.

Before moving on to the next section, I’d like to make a disclaimer. I am generalizing a lot because of the nature of things. It’s true that in the North, people tend to have more discipline and more defined rules that they are more likely to follow, while things tend to be more relaxed in the South of Italy. 

However, there are many Southern Italians (and that includes me) who have personalities with more common Northern traits. That’s normal, and it mainly has to do with genetics and upbringing. Let’s move on to the next section, now. 

Italian Wedding Traditions

Whether you are about to get married or have been married for a long time, I am pretty sure you are curious to know every little wedding tradition we Italians have. Feel free to share the twenty traditions I am about to list with any bride-to-be friends who want to embrace an Italian wedding.

  1. The father of the bride pays for the wedding. A long-standing tradition in Italy, it is customary for the bride’s father to cover the wedding expenses, symbolizing his support and commitment to his daughter’s new journey. So what do the groom’s parents pay for? It was part of the wedding tradition for the groom and his parents to take care of everything related to the house, and that would include buying or renting and furnishing.
  1. Short and simple weddings in the North and long intricate ones in the South. Wedding customs vary between regions of Italy, with Northern ceremonies being typically brief and straightforward, while Southern Italy weddings are known for their elaborate celebrations and extended festivities. They usually start the day before and go on for an extra day. In the South, you can even expect the groom to serenade his future wife on the night before the wedding.
  1. No mirrors for the bride: Superstition holds that seeing her reflection before walking down the aisle could bring bad luck, so brides avoid mirrors until after the ceremony. Well, I assure you this is a tradition that nearly no one follows but it’s still a fun one to note.
  1. Something blue: As a symbol of purity, fidelity, and love, brides traditionally incorporate something blue into their attire or accessories, known as ‘qualcosa di blu’.
  1. Must-have bridesmaids to confuse evil spirits. Historically, bridesmaids dressed similarly to the bride to confuse evil spirits, protecting the bride from any harm or ill-wishing.
  1. Picking up the rings from the floor. During the wedding ceremony, should the rings drop to the floor, it will be the officiant to pick them up as doing otherwise is seen as bad luck.
  1. Breaking one plate: At the end of the wedding celebration, in very traditional settings, it is customary for the mother of the bride or the bride herself to break a ceramic plate. Sometimes, the latter is filled with rice or roses. Again, this is a symbol of good luck.
  1. Car horns at the end of the ceremony. As the newlyweds leave the ceremony, guests joyously honk their car horns, creating a jubilant atmosphere.
  1. Don’t marry on a Friday. Friday weddings were once considered unlucky, but this superstition is no longer widely followed. PS: I got married on a Friday, and many years later I am still happily so. 
  1. Confetti with wedding favors. In Italy, confetti refers to sugared almonds, symbolizing prosperity and fertility. These sweet treats are often given as wedding favors to guests, representing the couple’s gratitude and good wishes for their future. Many, like me, choose to have both a wedding favor and a sachet with confetti. 

Did you know that one of the most common wedding favors in Italy is a piece of Murano glassware? 

castagnole Italian carnival sweets

Italian Carnival Traditions

Italian Carnival traditions are a riotous celebration of joy and exuberance. Masks, costumes, and colorful parades fill the streets, creating a vibrant and festive atmosphere. Carnevale in Venice is especially famous, with its elaborate masks and elegant costumes. Throughout Italy, traditional sweets like “chiacchiere” and “frittelle” are indulged in during this season, adding a delicious touch to the revelry.

Let’s look at 11 Carnival Traditions from different parts of Italy.

  1. Cinque buchi pasta with ragu in Sicily is perfect for Martedì Grasso. On Martedì Grasso, or Fat Tuesday, Sicilians savor the delectable “cinque buchi” pasta topped with rich ragu sauce, a special treat to indulge in before Lent. Nowadays, we still indulge in this pasta but are less likely to practice lent traditions, other than refraining from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  1. Fried dough pastries throughout Italy. Carnival is a time of indulgence, and Italians relish fried dough pastries like “chiacchiere” and “frappe”, sprinkled with powdered sugar, a beloved sweet tradition across the country.
  1. Baked pasta & lots of tomato sauce-based dishes. During Carnival, baked pasta dishes like lasagna and cannelloni, along with hearty tomato sauce-based meals, grace Italian tables, satisfying appetites with classic comfort food. Timballo is another good option.
Italian Carnival traditions
  1. Venice Carnival: The renowned Venice Carnival lures visitors from all over the world with its opulent masks, elegant costumes, and grand masquerade balls, transforming this Italian city into a breathtaking spectacle of mystery and allure.
  1. Viareggio Carnival: The Viareggio Carnival boasts impressive, gigantic floats parading along the coastal town, showcasing elaborate papier-mâché creations, each one a stunning work of art.
  1. Ivrea Carnival: The Ivrea Carnival hosts the unique “Battle of the Oranges,” where participants engage in a playful yet fierce orange-throwing battle, commemorating a historical rebellion against tyrannical rulers. In Italian we call this event ‘Battaglia delle Arance’.
  1. Apulia Carnival: In Apulia, Carnival brings joyous processions, theatrical performances, and lively street parties, infusing the region with a contagious spirit of celebration.
  1. Laives Carnival: In Laives, a town near Bolzano in Trentino Alto Adige, the Carnival takes a traditional approach, with colorful parades, masked performers, and local customs, adding a touch of old-world charm to the festivities.
  1. Acireale Carnival: The Acireale Carnival in Sicily is renowned for its stunning parade floats, adorned with intricate floral decorations, captivating spectators with their beauty and creativity.
  1. Cento Carnival: The Cento Carnival in Emilia-Romagna is marked by lively parades, masquerade balls, and traditional performances, embodying the lively spirit of Italian Carnival celebrations.
  1. Carnival in Summer – Grado, Giulianova, e Cegni. Summer Carnival takes place every year in these towns, offering a unique twist by celebrating the festivities in the summer months, with street parties, music, and dancing enlivening the warm summer nights. You should include this event on your next Summer trip to Italy.

Brace yourself because the juiciest section is about to come. I will be ending this article by talking about 36 Italian Festival traditions, including historical events, religious traditions, competitions, music, art, and food festivals.

Italian Festival Traditions

Top 6 Italy’s Historical Events

  1. Ferragosto: An ancient tradition originating from Roman times, Ferragosto, celebrated on August 15th, is a beloved national holiday when Italians take a break and head to the coast or the mountains for relaxation, feasting, and festivities.
  1. Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart): A fascinating Florentine tradition dating back to the Crusades, the Scoppio del Carro involves an elaborate procession where a cart laden with fireworks is ignited to symbolize a good harvest and brings blessings for the city. This happens every year on Easter Sunday morning.
  1. Liberation Day: Commemorating the end of World War II and the liberation of Italy from Fascist rule, Liberation Day on April 25 is a day of national pride and remembrance, with parades, concerts, and ceremonies held throughout the country.
  1. Labour Day: Celebrated on May 1st, Labour Day is a global tribute to workers’ rights and achievements. In Italy, it is marked by parades, rallies, and public gatherings to honor workers and advocate for their rights.
Italian historic events
  1. Republic Day: On June 2nd, Italy celebrates the establishment of the Italian Republic following the Second World War. The day is marked by military parades, public events, and ceremonies held in Rome to commemorate this important milestone in Italian history.
  1. Festa del Redentore: This Venetian annual festival, held on the third Sunday of July, commemorates the end of the plague in the 16th century, with a spectacular fireworks display and a floating bridge of boats connecting the Giudecca Island to St. Mark’s Square.

Religious Traditions

  1. Festa di San Gennaro (Naples): Held on September 19th, this venerated feast celebrates Naples’ patron saint, San Gennaro, with religious processions and the miraculous liquefaction of his blood, believed to protect the city from disasters.
  1. Festa di Santa Lucia (Sicily): Celebrated on December 13th, this cherished Sicilian tradition honors Saint Lucia with religious processions and the distribution of “cuccìa,” a wheat-based dish symbolizing the saint’s aid during a famine.
  1. St Miquel Festival (Sardinia): On September 29th, the island of Sardinia rejoices in the St. Miquel Festival, with lively parades, traditional dances, and horse races honoring the archangel Michael.
Cathedral of Saint Agatha in Catania
Cathedral of Saint Agatha in Catania
  1. Festa di Sant’Agata (Catania): This vibrant festival in Catania, Sicily, honors Saint Agatha on February 5th with grand processions, religious rituals, and the spectacular “fercolo” carrying the saint’s relics through the city.
  1. Tavole di San Giuseppe (Lecce): In Lecce, the Tables of St. Joseph are created on March 19th, depicting religious scenes made from bread and vegetables to honor St. Joseph.
  1. Infiorate di Spello (Umbria): In June, the town of Spello in Umbria is adorned with elaborate floral carpets, known as “infiorate,” showcasing intricate religious images in honor of Corpus Christi.
  1. Festival di Santa Rosalia (Palermo): Celebrated on July 15th, this grand festival in Palermo pays homage to Saint Rosalia, the city’s patron saint, with processions and stunning fireworks illuminating the night sky.
  1. St. Stephen’s Day: Celebrated on December 26th, this religious holiday marks the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, with various traditions and religious observances.
  1. Immaculate Conception: On December 8th, Catholics celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, attending church services and engaging in religious processions and events.
  1. All Saints: On November 1st, Italians observe All Saints’ Day, honoring all the saints with visits to cemeteries, lighting candles, and laying flowers on the graves of loved ones.
  1. Candelora: Celebrated on February 2nd, Candelora marks the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, with candlelit processions and religious observances.
  1. Festa di Santo Biagio: This festival on February 3rd in various Italian towns celebrates Saint Blaise, the patron saint of throats, with blessings of throats and traditional processions.

Check out this article for the full Italian calendar of celebrations organized by season.

Siena square where Palio di Siena takes place

Traditional Competition Events in Italy

  1. Bravio delle Botti: Held on the last Sunday of August in Montepulciano, Tuscany, participants compete in the Bravio delle Botti by rolling heavy wine barrels through narrow, cobbled streets to win glory for their contrada during the town’s annual wine festival.
  1. Palio di Siena: One of Italy’s most famous competitions, the Palio di Siena is a thrilling horse race that takes place twice a year in Siena’s historic Piazza del Campo, with riders representing different city districts. The day on which it occurs varies from year to year, but it’s usually in July and August.
  1. Palio degli Asini di Alba: This charming donkey race in Alba, Piedmont, sees jockeys guiding decorated donkeys around the town’s cobbled streets, capturing the hearts of locals and visitors alike. This happens on the first Sunday of every October.
  1. Festa del Mare & Graziella Election in Procida: Celebrated in Procida every July, in the region of Campania, this festival honors the island’s maritime heritage with boat races and the election of the island’s “Graziella”, a young woman representing Procida’s beauty and traditions.
  1. Giostra del Saracino (Arezzo): In Arezzo, Tuscany, the Giostra del Saracino is a medieval jousting competition where knights on horseback aim to hit a rotating wooden target, showcasing their equestrian skills and valor. It is held on the third Saturday of every June.
  1. Giostra dell’Orso (Pistoia): This exciting bear jousting event in Pistoia, Tuscany, has its origins in the Middle Ages, where knights participate in a thrilling contest to catch a wooden bear with a lance while on horseback. It’s celebrated every year on the 25th of July.

Music, Art & Food Festivals

  1. Notte della Taranta (Tarantula Night in Campania): Celebrated in various towns across Salento, Apulia, this music festival pays homage to traditional “pizzica” music and dance, believed to cure the bite of the tarantula spider through energetic dancing. Typically it takes place towards the end of August.
  1. Ferrara Buskers Festival (Emilia Romagna): Held in the enchanting city of Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, this vibrant festival showcases street performers, artists, and musicians from around the world, transforming the city into a living stage of creativity and art. It’s usually held towards the end of August.
  1. Cous Cous Festival in San Vito lo Capo (Sicily): San Vito lo Capo hosts a unique culinary event celebrating couscous, attracting chefs from various countries to compete in cooking this beloved dish, representing Sicily’s cultural diversity. It’s typically held around mid-September.
  1. Sagra del Padellone (Liguria): In Cervo, Liguria, locals, and visitors enjoy the “Sagra del Padellone,” a food festival offering enormous pans (padelloni) of traditional Ligurian dishes, filling the air with enticing aromas and flavors. It happens around mid-May.
  1. Peperoncino Festival (Calabria): Calabria’s Peperoncino Festival in Diamante is a fiery celebration of chili peppers, featuring spicy food tastings, cooking competitions, and cultural events celebrating the region’s culinary heritage. Usually this event takes place at the beginning of September.
Italian grapes
  1. Sagra dell’Uva (Lazio): Held in Marino, Lazio, this grape festival honors the region’s winemaking tradition, with the streets adorned with grapevines, wine tastings, and lively processions. It’s typically held on the first Sunday of October.
  1. White Truffle Festival in Alba: Alba, Piedmont, hosts a prestigious White Truffle Festival, where truffle enthusiasts and gastronomes gather to savor the exquisite aroma and taste of the prized white truffles. Usually, it’s held between mid-October and mid-November.
  1. Sagra dell’Olio e dell’Olivo (Emilia Romagna): In Brisighella, Emilia-Romagna, this festival celebrates olive oil and olive trees, with tastings, traditional food, and events that showcase the significance of olives in the region. It’s usually organized in November, as November is the month of olives and olive oil in Italy.
  1. Giornate Medievali (Zavattarello): Zavattarello, Lombardy, turns back time with its “Giornate Medievali,” a medieval fair featuring historical reenactments, costumed parades, and authentic medieval crafts and Italian cuisine. It usually happens in August.
  1. Red Night (Volterra): In Volterra, Tuscany, “Red Night” is a lively evening festival where the city turns red, symbolizing its history and traditions, with concerts, art installations, and cultural performances. This event occurs in September. 
  1. Polenta sotto le stelle: This traditional event celebrates polenta in various regions, served under the stars in charming outdoor settings, bringing people together to enjoy this beloved Italian dish. Usually held in August.
  1. Festival di Sanremo: The prestigious Sanremo Music Festival is one of Italy’s most significant musical events, attracting renowned artists and showcasing emerging talents, drawing millions of viewers to experience its captivating performances and vibrant atmosphere. We like to watch this in the comforts of our home, especially since it’s usually held in the colder month of February.

Final Thoughts

Whew, we’ve covered a whole lot of ground exploring treasured Italian traditions! From indulging in seasonal delicacies to performing elaborate rituals, these practices offer a vibrant glimpse into Italian life. While honoring the past, they continue to evolve as new generations put their spin on beloved customs.

Wherever your journey leads, I hope a dash of Italian tradition can join you there. Maybe in a recipe that connects you to fond memories, a value that resonates across cultures, or a belief that puts a smile on your face. Traditions bind us together and remind us of our shared humanity. 

Thanks for joining me on this adventure! No matter where you are, keep that Italian spirit alive. Stay hungry for life’s simple pleasures, laugh often, and embrace new rituals that bring happiness. Ciao, for now, friends!

Frequently Asked Questions about Traditions in Italy

What unique traditions does Italy have?

Italy has many unique traditions like the explosion of the cart in Florence, carnivals with elaborate floats and costumes, jousting competitions, and festivals dedicated to regional foods and art forms.

What are 3 holiday traditions in Italy?

Three Italian holiday traditions are indulging in seafood on Christmas Eve, burning an effigy called “Old Man Winter” on New Year’s Eve, and exchanging chocolate eggs on Easter. 

What are the religious traditions in Italy?

Major religious traditions in Italy include celebrations for patron saints like St. Francis and St. Anthony, Lenten fasting, pilgrimages, midnight mass on Christmas, and elaborate Nativity scenes or presepi. 

What are some Italian wedding traditions?

Italian wedding traditions include the groom serenading the bride, elaborate receptions, sugared almonds as favors, the bride wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue, and breaking a plate for good luck.

What are some Italian Christmas traditions?

Italian Christmas traditions include panettone sweet bread, seafood feasts on Christmas Eve, nativity scenes, and La Befana the friendly holiday witch who brings gifts on Epiphany Eve.

What food traditions are unique to Italy? 

Unique Italian food traditions include aperitivo drinks and appetizers before dinner, long leisurely meals with multiple courses, and indulging in local seasonal delicacies like truffles, chestnuts, and mushrooms.

What are common Italian family traditions?

Common family traditions in Italy include Sunday lunches with extended relatives, naming children after grandparents, multi-generational living arrangements, and considering close friends as part of the family.

What are Italy’s cultural traditions?

Italy’s cultural traditions include appreciation for history and the arts, valuing leisure time and relaxation, community festivals and celebrations, honoring saints, and proudly maintaining local and regional identities.

What are some Northern Italian traditions?

Some Northern Italian traditions include polenta dishes, risottos, Alpine sports like skiing and hiking, carnivals with elaborate costumes and masks like in Venice, and keeping more private from neighbors. 

What are some Southern Italian traditions?

Southern Italian traditions include indulging in flavorful pasta dishes like spaghetti and tomato-based sauces, celebrating vibrant festivals like the Feast of San Gennaro in Naples, embracing a relaxed and communal lifestyle, and cherishing close-knit relationships with neighbors and extended family.

What are some Italian Easter traditions? 

Italian Easter traditions include elaborately decorated Easter eggs, lamb-based feasts, exchanging chocolate eggs and dove or lamb-shaped cakes, and more relaxed family meals compared to Christmas.

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Alessia Spampinato