In September, summer comes to an end bringing relief from the heat in most parts of Italy. Popular cities and places to go are still crowded though as September has become one of the most popular months to visit Italy. Be sure to book hotels and tickets for top museums and sites in advance (see travel planning below). There are no national holidays in September.
Early September Festivals in Italy
The end of summer season is often celebrated with festivals the first weekend. Look for brightly colored posters announcing a festa or sagra (food festival where you can try local specialties). This is a sampling of top festivals usually held the first week of September, but you’re likely to find other local festivals, too:
- Venice: The exciting Regata Storica, historic regatta or boat race, is held the first Sunday of the month. Events start with a colorful boat parade on the Grand Canal featuring historic boats and costumes. Then boat races are held in 4 different categories. See Regata Storica Venezia for updated event details and photos of the previous year’s event. Also the Venice International Film Festival usually continues into the first week of September so you might be able to do some celebrity spotting even if you don’t attend the films.
- Asti, Piemonte: The Palio di Asti is one of Italy’s oldest palio competitions, dating to the 13th century. Usually held the first weekend of September, events include a parade with more than 1000 people in period costume, flag throwers, and a market. The main event is an exciting bareback horse race in Piazza Alfieri with 3 heats, 2 with 7 horses and the final with 9.
- Florence: The Feast of Rificolona, one of Florence’s oldest festivals, is celebrated September 7 both in Florence and some other Tuscany towns with a lantern parade through the streets at night. In Florence there’s also a boat parade on the river and a fair in Piazza Santissima Annunziata.
- Arezzo, Tuscany: The Giostra del Saracino, an exciting medieval jousting festival, is held in the Tuscan town of Arezzo in June and again the first Sunday of September. The town’s quarters compete in the joust and events include a parade and flag throwers. Read more about the festival in the novel, Waking Isabella.
- Figline Valdarno, Tuscany: The palio of San Rocco, believed to be one of Tuscany’s first palio competitions, is a festival of medieval competitions including archery, jousting, and a horse race.
- Viterbo, Lazio, north of Rome: In the Macchina di Santa Rosa, a huge lighted tower (weighing close to 5 tons) topped with a statue of Santa Maria Rosa is carried by more than 100 people in a procession through town.
Mid to Late September Festivals
- Florence: The gelato festival usually comes to Florence the second weekend of the month for the all-star artisan gelato challenge, held in Piazzale Michelangelo.
- Verona: Juliet’s birthday is celebrated September 12 with entertainment and dances. Read more about the city of Verona.
- Lucca, Tuscany: The luminara di Santa Croce is a beautiful religious procession through the historic center of Lucca after dark. Electric lights are turned off and the town is lit only by candles and lanterns. There are also stands selling food and souvenirs. Video
- Naples: One of the city’s most important religious festivals is the Feast Day of San Gennaro, held September 19 in the cathedral. Thousands of people gather in the cathedral and piazza to see if the blood of San Gennaro liquefies. 8 days of celebrations and festivals follow the main event so it’s an exciting time to visit Naples.
- Rome: Roma Europa is a fall festival of performances, dance, music, and art held in several venues.
- Burano Island, Venice: A regata, or boat race, and fish festival are held on the island of Burano the third weekend of September.
- Milan: Women’s Fashion Week is a huge event held in mid to late September. The city is usually full of models and fashion designers.
- Monte Sant’Angelo: The Feast Day of Saint Michael, or San Michele, is celebrated September 29 in many places but the biggest is in Monte Sant’Angelo, on Puglia’s Gargano Promontory, where the devotion to the archangel Michael began in the 5th – 6th centuries.
September Travel Planning
Temperatures start cooling down in September. You may still be able to swim in the sea, especially in the south, but private beach establishments will mostly be closed. See typical weather in Italy to check the places you’re going.
Popular tourist sites and museums should be booked in advance so you don’t waste time standing in long ticket lines.
Italian Museum Tickets You Should Buy Before You Go
Train tickets: Tickets for the fast trains (frecce) in Italy usually cost less if bought in advance. Buy high-speed train tickets between Rome and other cities from Select Italy in US dollars, euro, or GBP.
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