Are you wondering where to go and what to see in Italy *right now*? We are here to help! Summer can be hot (very hot) and crowded—tourism is back to its pre-pandemic numbers, and it’s growing—but nothing screams Italy more than summer. Moreover, since 2020, more and more museums and attractions have put virtual tours in place, so Italy is closer than ever, no matter where you spend your summer.
Happenings, Events, and Festivals
During the summer, Italy offers events, festivals, and happenings for all budgets and interests. From food and film to music festivals, concerts, readings, open forums, and everything in between, you truly have a lot of choices. Some events, like big concerts or music festivals, draw people from all over the country and beyond. Among the big names of summer 2023: Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Muse, Travis Scott, Harry Style, and Rosalia. On the Italian side, you have Vasco Rossi and Ligabue always filling up stadiums, along with Marco Mengoni and Tiziano Ferro.
To track (and attend!) all the local events would be a titanic challenge. Let’s cover the whole penisola. First, there is I Suoni delle Dolomiti, a music festival in the world’s most beautiful mountains (as they claim), starting at the end of August. Then we have La Festa di Teatro Eco-logico in Stromboli, a magical volcanic island out of Sicily. This festival is a 9-day immersive experience in which artists, philosophers, volcanologists, and climate experts debate, with no electric power involved—so no microphones, no speakers, no technology—so that attendees can have a deeper connection with nature and the other attendees. Finally, the Palio di Siena—a local event that definitely has a wider reach—deserves a mention, if nothing else for the location: Tuscany, the hills, Siena, Piazza del Campo itself. The horse race could be just be an added bonus to the incredible location. Just don’t say that to locals, who feel very strongly about the race!
You might want to check out some of the best cities to live in (according to Il Sole 24 Ore, the most important economic newspaper in the country). Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region, for instance, ranks great for younger people—kids and teenagers alike. You can admire its amazing mosaics (it’s called the mosaic capital for a reason), stroll along its super walkable streets, bike around, enjoy piadina filled with prosciutto crudo, squacquerone, and rucola. Or go to the beach, since Marina di Ravenna is very close by.
You could also look for “green cities” and head to Bolzano, Trento, or Belluno, which is the most virtuous in this sense. They are also very close to each other, so this might be a good long weekend option.
Finally, you might want to follow the lead of The New York Times’s “52 Places to Go in 2023” and head to Bergamo and Brescia. Named Capitali della Cultura 2023, they each have a calendar full of events, projects, nature walks, and newly inaugurated bike routes. Too often outshined by the nearby Milano, Bergamo and Brescia are wonderful destinations on their own. The bucket list for Bergamo must include the Città Alta with its ancient walled and wonderfully preserved upper section. And Brescia (one-hour train ride from Bergamo) won’t disappoint you with its art, architecture, and food. The area (Bergamo and its province towns in particular) was the epicenter of the first COVID-19 wave; its population was ravaged, and this 2023 nomination is somehow a “way forward” wish.
As you have certainly noticed, summer 2023 in Italy is in full swing. If visiting in person is not an option, however, there’s a Plan B: online, virtual tours. Among the museums that offer virtual visits, you can pick from: Museo Egizio in Torino, the world’s oldest museum devoted to Egyptian history and culture; MArTA, the Museo Archeologico di Taranto, where you can discover Southern Italian roots through the peoples who lived it; Musei Vaticani (bonus point of the online tour: you get to skip the multiple-hours-long line!); Uffizi in Firenze (copy and paste the above-mentioned bonus point). Clearly, admiring the Primavera from Botticelli or the Cappella Sistina in person is an invaluable and unique experience, but … it might be for the next time, right? Plus, these tours are free! Visits are normally offered in English too, but take them in Italian as a precious chance to practice your listening skills—with some visual help!
By Claudia Quesito