Palio di Siena: it takes place in Siena (Tuscany). This horse race is held twice each year on July 2nd and August 16th.
Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colors, represent ten of the seventeen Contrade, or city wards. A magnificent pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race. Jockeys have to circle three times the Piazza del Campo (the main square in Siena), on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid.
It is common for jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza, and indeed it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys! Carnevale di Venezia (Carnival of Venice): the Carnival starts around two weeks before AshWednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday.
Masks have always been a central feature of the Venetian carnival. The whole of Venice becomes a platform for the Carnival with different events happening here and there.
St Mark’s Square is usually the hub, but during the nearly 2 weeks of celebrations you’ll find people wearing masks all over the city. The Venice Carnival has its origins in the mid 1100. The fact that masks were worn meant that people could remain relatively anonymous, and it allowed the lower classes of Italian society to rub shoulders with the upper classes.
Opera: if you’re in Milan, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Opera at the worldwide famous Opera house Teatro alla Scala.
The season traditionally opens on December 7th, Saint Ambrose’s Day, the feast day of Milan’ patron saint. All performances must end before midnight; long operas start earlier in the evening if necessary.
The Museo Teatrale alla Scala (La Scala Theatre Museum), accessible from the theatre’s foyer and a part of the house, contains an extraordinary collection of paintings, drafts, statues, costumes, and other documents regarding opera and La Scala’s history.