Traditional festivals are celebrated in many Italian towns and villages in commemoration of local historical or religious events. The most notable are listed here. The dates of many traditional festivals may vary according to the year.

AREZZO: "Giostra del Saracino" (Joust of the Saracen) first Sunday in September - Tilting contest of the 13th century with knights in armour.

ASCOLI PICENO: "Torneo della Quintana" (Joust of the Quintana) first Sunday in August - Historical pageant with over 1,000 persons in 15th century costumes.

CAGLIARI: "Sagra di Sant'Efisio" (Festival of St. Efisio) 1st - 4th May - One of the biggest and most colorful processions in the world. Several thousand pilgrims (wearing costumes dating back to 1657) accompany the statue of the Saint on foot, carts and horses.

FLORENCE: "Scoppio del Carro" (Explosion of the Cart) Easter Sunday - A pyramid of fireworks in the Cathedral Square is set off by a mechanical dove driven from the Altar during High Mass. "Gioco del Calcio" (Football Match) 24th and 28th June - Revival of a 16th century football match in medieval costumes. Fireworks display from the terraced gardens overlooking the city - June 24th.

FOLIGNO: "Giostra della Quintana" (Joust of the Quintana) Second Sunday of September-Revival of a 17th century joust with 600 knights in costume. A historical procession takes place the night before the joust.

GENZANO: "Infiorata" (Flower Festival) Corpus Domini on June 23th. A religious procession along the streets carpeted with flowers arranged in magnificent designs.

GUBBIO: "Festa dei Ceri" (Festival of the Candles) May 15th - A procession in local costumes in which tall shrines are carried to the Church on the top of Mount Ingino. "Palio dei Balestrieri" (The Palio of the Archers) Last Sunday in May - Medieval crossbow contest between Gubbio and Sansepolcro with medieval costumes and arms.

LA SPEZIA: "Palio del Golfo" (Palio of the Gulf) Second Sunday of August - Rowing contest over a distance of 2 000 meters.

MAROSTICA: "Partita a Scacchi con Personaggi Viventi" (Living Chess Game) September in even years - Chess game played in the town square by live pawns in period costume.

NAPLES: "Piedigrotta" - September 6th and 7th - A series of colorful and spectacular events - fireworks, parade of carnival floats illuminated boats, Neapolitan Song Competition.

NOLA: "Festa del Giglio" (The Lily Festival) Sunday following June 20th - Allegorical towers are carried in a colourful procession in costume.

NUORO: "Sagra del Redentore" (Feast of the Redeemer) August 28th to the 30th - Colorful procession in Sardinian costume.

PISA: "Gioco del Ponte" (Battle of the Bridge) First Sunday in June - Medieval parade and mock combat in medieval garb for the possession of a bridge.

ROME: "Epiphany Fair" at Piazza Navona - January 6th. On the eve of Twelfth Night a fair of toys, sweets and other presents takes place in the open air among the beautiful Bernini Fountains. Special ceremonies take place in Rome throughout Holy Week beginning on Palm Sunday (24th March 2002) with the blessing of palms by the Pope. On Easter Sunday (31st  March 2002) the Pope gives his special "Urbis et Orbis" blessing to the world.

"Festa de Noantri" - July 16th - 24th - Folklore of old Rome with folk dances and songs, carnival floats and fireworks.

SASSARI: "Cavalcata Sarda" (Sardinian Cavalcade) May 1st - Traditional procession of over 3,000 people in Sardinian costume, some on horseback, taking place on Ascension Day, with ladies and gentlemen in costly, multicolored costumes.

SIENA: "11 Palio" (Horse Race) July 2nd and August 16th - Procession and bareback horse race. Participants are members of ancient city districts called "contrade" competing for the Banner (Palio). Colourful medieval pageantry and nag-throwing virtuosity.

Thousands of visitors Bock to medieval Siena to watch the Palio, one of the world's most vivid and heartstopping spectacles. Wearing dazzling medieval costumes, riders representing the city's districts, or contrade, compete in a wild, hair-raising and totally earnest horse race perilously run on the perimeter of Siena's beautiful main piazza.

VENICE: 24th April 2002 St. Mark's feast. "11 Redentore" (The Feast of the Redeemer) on third Sunday in July - Procession of gondolas and other craft commemorating the end of the epidemic of 1575. "Historical Regatta" First Sunday of September - A traditional competition between two oar-racing gondolas preceded by a procession of the Venetian Republic. "Carnival in Venice" last two weeks of February (from 1st to the 14th Feb. 2002)- Celebrations in costume and masks. Entertainment in streets and squares. Music, mimes, fireworks.

VIAREGGIO: Celebration of the Carnival in 1st and 2nd week of Feb. 2002 from 1st to the 14th Feb. 2002. Highlight of the Carnival festivities is the procession of spectacular and colorful boats.

June 24th GENOA and TURIN celebrate the feast of St. John the Baptist; July 15th PALERMO (S.ta Rosalia) the Palemiitans celebrate their Patron with many unique festivities; October 4th in BOLOGNA (St. Petronio); and December 7th in MILAN (St. Ambrose).