Location: Palazzo Medici, Pisa, Italy 

Dates: 17 June


Venice may be famous for its gondolas, but across the country, Pisa stages this 1500m dash up the River Arno, a tradition dating to the 1290s. The four narrow rowboats, differently coloured to represent the city’s four districts, each contain a steersman, a climber, and eight oarsmen struggling against the current.


The finishing line is a boat anchored at Palazzo Medici, a location decided in 1737 upon the request of the Duke of Montelimar, who was staying in one of the palaces there. The climbers must scale one of four cables to the top of the boat’s 10m mast and grab apaliotto (triangular, silk banner). The blue banner indicates first place, white is second, and red is third. The winners receive an animal such as an ox or a rooster; the losers are awarded with a pair of goslings and torrents of abuse from onlookers.


 The regatta originally celebrated Assumption and moved to St Ranieri’s feast day in 1718. On the eve of the high-speed celebration of the city’s patron saint, Luminara is an altogether more sombre event. Some 70,000 candles in glass holders are arranged along the bridges, palaces and churches overlooking the river, their flickering reflections broken only by candles bobbing on the water.


Local Attractions: Pisa is famous for its 12th-century leaning tower, which was recently straightened by 45cm to save it from collapse.




WorldNomads.com - an essential part of every adventurous traveller’s journey. Check out more world festivals at WorldNomads.com

Location: Grande Piazza, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

Dates: Penultimate Saturday in June and first Sunday in September


Taking the baton from Siena’s Il Palio, Arezzo’s medieval jousting tournament is like taking a ride in a time machine to the days of knights and maidens. Churches are decorated with pictures of 12th-century crusaders and the streets fill with costumes from an era predating even Giorgio Vasari, the Renaissance heavyweight who grew up here.


Following a blessing by the bishop on the steps on the 13th-century cathedral, the parade ends in the Grande Piazza, the venue for the afternoon’s archaic fun. Proceedings are begun by the sbandieratori (flag wavers), touting the standards so loved by territorial medieval types. The jousters and their horses sport the colours and symbols of Arezzo’s four districts, which are all hoping to win the Golden Lance. Rather than aiming their lances at each other, contestants score points by hitting a wooden target held by a carving of a Saracen (Islamic) king.

The tradition possibly derives from a jousting display held to honour a knight in the late 13th century, and was certainly going strong by the early 19th century.


Essentials: Wear a doublet or tunic for that heraldic look. 


Local Attractions: Arezzo was bombed heavily in WWII but many Renaissance and Gothic buildings still stand. The Chiesa di San Francesco contains frescoes by Piero della Francesca.


More Info: www.lagiostradelsaracino.it in Italian




WorldNomads.com - an essential part of every adventurous traveller’s journey. Check out more world festivals at WorldNomads.com

03. October 2011 · Write a comment · Categories: Festivals · Tags: ,

If you’re a traveler that is looking for adventure mixed with rich history, then The Race of the Candles is the perfect festival destination for you.  It’s a tradition that has been carried on since 1242, and perhaps the most amazing part is that little about the festival has changed over the centuries.

Corsa Dei Ceri, or the Race of the Candles, is one of the most popular festivals worldwide as well as one of the most exciting.  And contrary to popular belief, it’s got nothing to do with actual candles.  The ancient festivity is held each year in Gubbio, Italy beginning on May 3rd and culminating on May 15th.  It consists of teams of young men carrying three ‘Ceri’, enormous wooden biers each weighing nearly half a ton and topped with the statue of a different Saint, through the steep streets of Gubbio and up Mount Ingino to the Basilica of St. Ubaldo.  The winner of the “race” is determined not by which group finishes first, but by the team that exhibits the most skill.  It is an experience not to be missed.

Each year, thousands of spectators gather to watch the incredible feat of strength and rich tradition and to partake in the colorful celebration that accompanies the event.  Gubbio also boasts of a myriad of restaurants, Bistros and Cafés that serve traditional Umbian dishes like torta al testo, to add a tasty addition for those traveling to see the festivities. 


Source.: worldnomads.com