Tuscany loves its festivals. And so do the kids who visit them. Many are inspired by the Middle Ages, and boast ancient games and traditions. Some are truly bizarre, and the king of all festivals, the Carnival has some amazing surprises up its sleeves.
Here’s a list of favourites:
Viareggio Carnival (February)
This is amongst the most renowned Carnivals in Italy. Every year in February the popular beach resort of Versilia gets transformed into a multicoloured stage. The whole town goes mad and everybody does their best to come up with the most original costume. Kids and adults participate, and the parade with the huge floats is truly spectacular. Expect loud, busy, hectic atmosphere, music and lots of confetti. The parade is every Sunday for 4 weeks in February.
If you’re travelling in February it is likely you’ll see some Carnival action even in Florence. Many other towns organise their own, and the most scenic are in San Gimignano and Foiano della Chiana.
Monteriggioni Medieval Festival (July)
Every July in Monteriggioni there’s a Medieval Festival when the town is filled with historical colour and various period games and delights. Expect it to be busy (the village is very small) so it might not be suitable for toddlers or families with push chairs, but for the older kids it’s a real delight. This is one of the most popular of Tuscan Festivals.
Volterra 1389 AD Medieval Festival (August)
Every third and fourth Sunday of August, Volterra is transformed into a 14th century town. The streets are filled with knights, horses, archers, and jesters, and all manner of Medieval food stalls. Meanwhile, the nearby Parco Archeologico is turned into a village where costumed actors show how people of the time would have lived and cooked. Kids can learn a bit of archery, jousting and fencing. A must for children of all ages.
Florence – Explosion of the cart (Easter Sunday)
If you’re in Florence for Easter, you can’t miss this exiting show. It’s crowded and noisy, so more enjoyable for the older kids. This is an exciting show that’s been held every Easter Sunday morning for centuries. A street procession of flag throwers and drummers in historical costumes lead a cart, three stories high, drawn by white oxen through the streets of Florence.
Florence – Rificolona (7th September)
An evening parade right in the centre of Florence that is full of fun, light and colour. Kids of all ages will love this Paper Lantern Festival, where children fly around their elaborate paper lanterns while other kids try to set fire to them by shooting them with a peashooter. Exciting and fun.
Arezzo – Joust of the Saracen ‘Giostra del Saracino’ (3rd Sunday in June and 1st Sunday in September)
This is a real jousting event with amazing Medieval costumes. It’s truly exciting stuff where the whole city turns up in Medieval costume to recreate the atmosphere of Medieval Arezzo, with different quarters of the city competing against each other in a joust to win the Golden Lance. There are eight knights representing the four city’s quarters. Real excitement, that gives children an entertaining scrape with history.
Lucignano – Maggiolata Flower Festival (May)
Every May, the pretty town of Lucignano near Arezzo becomes a sea of flowers, full of colour and life. There’s a parade in historical costume, groups playing folk music and carriages with great big characters made of flowers. On the kitsch side but great fun for kids of all ages.