Italian Medieval Festivals

Hanna Johnson recently wrote and suggested that our adoring fans might enjoy information about some of the medieval festivals that take place all over Italy.

We were immediately reminded of some of the festivals that we’ve attended over the years including the pageants surrounding the palio in Sienna where a horse race in the central piazza has been taking place since medieval times, the Misteri di Trapani where massari dressed in medieval costumes and carried around floats all night, and although perhaps not medieval in origins, the ceremony of the Jews in San Fratello.

Massari at the Misteri di Trapani
Massari at the Misteri di Trapani

You can get the whole story about the Misteri di Trapani by reading our book Easter in Western Sicily.

So when Hanna contacted us offering to write a post about medieval festivals in and around Rome that we had not even heard of, we were certainly interested. Without further ado, here’s Hanna’s first MagoGuide post. We hope that more will be coming our way in the future.

Hanna JohnsonWe asked Hanna to tell us something about herself and she said “I’ve studied business administration in London, but I’ve been living and traveling in Italy since I got married in 2011. I love art, nature, eco-friendly activities and everthing Italy related! “

Discovering Italy through Sagres and Medieval Festivals

Something most travelers often miss on their trip to Italy: The Medieval Festivals. Italy offers several spectacular reenactments of the medieval ages, where entire towns transform into versions of themselves centuries ago. Here are some of the best medieval festivals, or “sagre,” in the country:

Festival of the Gaite in Bevagna

Bevagna is located in Lazio, fairly close to Rome, so getting there is no problem with a train. You can even book your accommodations online on sites like, making your trip seamless and easy. The festival follows the traditional division of the town into four neighborhoods or “gaite.” The names of these neighborhoods come from the churches San Giovanni, San Pietro, San Giorgio and Sancta Maria Filorum Comitis. These gorgeous buildings are still intact after surviving over 600 years in the Italian countryside. Every year, each proud neighborhood recreates the medieval environments and situations from which their town was born. They pay special attention to the shops, merchants, markets, and tradesmen. The most historic and beautiful corners of the city are used for the various activities, like the paper making, the mill, and the bakery. You can also check out the various artisanal shops such as the glass shop, the vase shop, the fabric shop and the tinting factory. If you are planning to visit Il mercato delle Gaite, check the program for 2015 Festival here.

Festival of Monteriggioni                                   

This festival was born in 1991 as a small event, including a play about the local medieval history and important historical characters. It was such a hit that it became an midsummer annual event. It has certainly changed a lot over the years, but the dedication to tradition is always strong. So in 2015 the Festival of Monteriggioni celebrates its 24th year as one of the most popular summer festivals in Tuscany. The theme this year is “Le armi e gli amori,” which translates as “The weapons and the love.”

The Ludika 1243 Festival in Viterbo

Viterbo is also located in Lazio, not a long train ride from Rome. This year the festival is being held from July 7th to 12th in the neighborhood of San Pellegrino, which is the oldest in the city. As you can guess by the name, the festival pays homage to the year 1243. But the events are more particular than many other medieval festivals. For example, the cultural activities specific to this town are held with the goal of involving the visitors. So you may be asked to adorn yourself with medieval robes, help cook meat on the spit, dye clothes, and taste special wines made in the traditional fashion. At the Ludika 1243 Festival, the spectators are the real protagonists!

Festival of the Broad Bean and Pecorino Cheese in Filacciano

This is a festival dedicated to food. In particular, the “Fave,” or broad bean, and pecorino cheese. These are two ingredients crucial to the diet in Lazio from the middle ages. Still, in the Lazio region, these two ingredients are included in some of the most tasty and traditional plates. If you want to taste fave and pecorino in a medieval atmosphere, head to the Sagre of the Broad Bean and Pecorino in Filacciano on May 1st. The food stands open at 1PM and traditionally close in the wee hours of the morning. In between guests will enjoy delectable dishes, wonderful wine, and cheese that melts on the tongue and warms the heart.

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Patti Hart

Patti has been traveling the world with Morgan since 1974 and loving every minute of it.  She's responsible for the photography and editing on the MagoGuide website as well as making occasional contributions.  Patti also generates the graphics and edits the MagoGuide products (e.g., the Mago Scrolls).  She recently built and published the iPhone and iPad application for MagoGuide. Finally, she is responsible for this website including code that tailors the content to what readers are interested in seeing.  In other words, a very busy lady.

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