Throughout the year Tuscia’s towns and villages come together in celebrating their own unique festivals, mixing Catholic heritage, ancient customs, Jazz music and proud culinary traditions. An area famous for its cuisine reflecting the regions vast woodlands and lakes, foods such as mushrooms, cherries, wild boar, olive oil and pecorino cheese are in abundance and celebrated in Tuscia’s festivals; from wine in Montefiascone to chestnuts in Soriano nel Cimino.
Many popular festivals are held throughout the Autumnal Harvest Season with the arrival of the grape, olive and hazelnut, often resulting in one of the best times to visit the area for days spent sight-seeing when daily temperatures in Autumn commonly remain around 23°C. However it is in the summer months when Tuscia’s festivals are in full swing, with seemingly a festival for every day of the week!
December & January
Through December until 6th January entire villages come together to enact live Nativity scenes and celebrate with music, food and wine. The towns of Civita di Bagnoregio, Tarquinia and Soriano nel Cimino are perfect settings for such reenactments.
On the 17th January many towns and villages throughout Tuscia, including Vasanello and Caprarola, celebrate The Feast of St Anthony the Abbot, the Patron Saint of Animals, when fanfare fill the streets and a special mass is held to bless domestic animals and livestock. The town of Bagnaia on the night of 17th January celebrate with one of Italy’s largest bonfires, Il Focarone, in honour of St Anthony. A towering 8 metre bonfire is constructed through the course of the week in the town’s main piazza, leading to the celebrations that begin at sunrise on 17th January with an historical procession and flag throwing.
February brings the celebration of Carnival to Tuscia. Colourful floats, lights and confetti adorn the streets of many of the local towns and villages. The Carnival at Ronciglione being one of the finest and most famous in the area, is a 5 day event that ends on Ash Wednesday. This unique event brings spectators from all over the province of Viterbo to witness parades of dancers, masked processions and the racing of the horses through the ancient streets of the town. Other carnivals worth a visit are held in the towns of Acquapendente and Civita Castellana.
Easter processions re-enacting the passion of Christ are held throughout Tuscia’s towns. A few not to be missed are; Bagnaia, Soriano nel Cimino, Tarquinia, Montefiascone and Civita di Bagnoregio.
Towards the end of April the town of Bomarzo celebrates their patron Saint Anselmo with their Sagra del Biscotto or Biscuit Festival, when 2,000 round shaped biscuits are baked in his honour. On the final day of the festival the Palio of St Anselmo takes place represented by the towns five districts, this is then preceded by a grand renaissance parade.
Spring brings beautiful flower festivals and joyous processions to many of Tuscia’s towns. Decorative flower displays colourfully line Viterbo‘s ancient medieval streets, squares and balconies throughout the town’s annual >> San Pellegrino Flower Festival four day event, held at the beginning of May. Local food and artisan stalls together with musical and dramatic performances also feature throughout this festival.
Marta’s colourful >> Barabbata Festival, dedicated to the Madonna del Monte on 14th May, is a lively religious procession, steeped in folklore dating from pre Etruscan times, led by fishermen, horsemen and farmers.
The town of Acquapendente’s, >> Festa dei Pugnaloni e Madonna del Fiore is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of May each year, where huge mosaics made of petals & leaves, ‘I Pugnaloni’, are created and exhibited throughout the historical centre. The event also includes medieval processions and flag throwing, an ancient tradition that has taken place since the middle ages.
Car enthusiasts each May can marvel at the traditional old cars during the historical long distance race, the Mille Miglia, dating from the 1920s. The route of the race, which starts in Brescia and makes its way south to Rome, takes in many of Tuscia’s roads through many towns and villages in northern Lazio.
In conjunction with Corpus Domini, >> ‘infiorata’ festivals are held throughout Tuscia. In the town of Bolsena, amazing works of art in the form of flower tapestries, carpet entire streets, paving the way for the Corpus Domini Sunday procession. Other ‘infiorita’ celebrations are held in; Montefiascone, Vitorchiano, Capodimonte and Tuscania.
Civita di Bagnoregio’s characteristic >> Palio della Tonna, a traditional donkey race around the town’s main square, takes place on the first Sunday of June and second in September.
Tuscia’s >> International Jazz Festival is deeply rooted in the province of Viterbo, each year welcoming great stars from the international scene to perform throughout this region in many scenic locations. This joyful and free event comes to the town of Soriano nel Cimino throughout the last weeks of July and the beginning of August, where the town’s main piazza is transformed into a live jazz stage, open to everyone.
Italian authors and journalists descend on the town of Viterbo for its Cultural Literature Festival, >> Caffeina, held each year within the first two weeks of July. Days and evenings are filled with different events where stories are shared through writing, acting and art.
Montefiascone’s medieval wine cellars, cantinas and bars open their doors till late during the >> Montefiascone Wine Festival, held throughout the first three weeks in August and dedicated to the local wine Est Est Est. Here visitors can sample local wines and foods while journeying from cantina to cantina on a pre-paid daily ticket. Music performances, historical parades and food stalls also fill the historical town centre.
Viterbo’s unique main event of the year, >> La Macchina di Santa Rosa is held on the evening of 3rd September in honour of the town’s patron, Santa Rosa. An historical parade of a hundred men (Facchini), the town’s popular heroes, transport an amazing 30 metre illuminated tower (the Macchina), weighing 5 tonnes, on their shoulders through the narrow medieval streets and piazzas of Viterbo on a 1 km route. This tradition dates back to the transfer of Santa Rosa’s body in 1258 to her final resting place at the Church S. Maria delle Rose. Every 5 years a competition is held in the town to redesign the tower, todays’ beautifully twisting tower, unveiled in 2011, is named the “Fiore del Cielo” (Flower of the Sky) and was designed by two aerospace architects, Arturo Vittori and Andreas Vogler. The triple-helix structure made from aluminium, steel and fibre glass is covered in 1200 LED lights and handmade textile roses. When Viterbo’s street lights are turned off and the town is shrouded in darkness the transportation of the macchina makes for an unforgettable experience.
October brings harvest time to the region of Tuscia, and the town of Soriano nel Cimino, celebrates like no other, with its wonderful >> Sagra della Castagna or Chestnut Festival. During the first three weeks of October, throughout the town’s decorated medieval streets, visitors are transported back in time and immersed into a medieval world, from grand medieval parades and ancient battle re-enactments to medieval sports; flag throwing, jousting and archery. Over 500 participants in medieval costume represent the four quarters or contradas of Soriano; Papacqua, La Rocca, San Giorgio and Trinita, who compete against each other throughout the course of the festival.Visitors also have the chance to partake in lively celebrations held at each of the contrada’s four tavernas by joining the ‘Sorianese’ in sampling fantastic local 5 course meals.