By Kristie Haller
There are fairs, markets, and religious events up and down the country at this time of year. Neapolitan Christmas cribs are famous and nearly every church has one. The Christmas holiday itself is low key; more is made of other religious events such as the liquefaction of San Gennaro's blood in Naples and the Carnevale in Venice.
Festa di Sant'Ambrogio (early Dec), Milan. The official opening of La Scala Opera season.
Festa della Madonna di Loreto (Dec 10), Loreto, LeMarche. Celebration of the Virgin's Holy House.
Mercato della Befana (mid-Dec-Jan 6), Rome. Well known Christmas fair held in Piazza Navona.
The Miracle of SanGennaro (Dec 19), Naples. See September.
Christmas fair (mid-Dec), Naples. Fair selling crib figures and decorations.
Fiaccole di Natale (Christmas Eve), Abbadia di San Salvatore,Tuscany. Features carols and processions in memory of the first shepherds.
Midnight Mass (Dec 24), at churches all over the country.
Christmas Day (Dec 25), St. Peter's Square, Rome. Public blessing by the Pope.
Capodanno (Jan 1), all over the country. New Year's Day is celebrated with fireworks and volleys from hunters firing into the air to scare off ghosts and spirits of the old year and welcome in the new.
La Befana (Jan 6), throughout Italy. Children's holiday with presents and sweets.
Pitti Immagine Uomo, Pitti Immagine Donna, Pitti Immagine Bimbo, Fortezzada Basso, Florence.Month of international fashion shows for women, men and children.
Festa di San Sebastiano (Jan 20), Dolceacqua,Liguria.A laurel tree covered with colorful communion hosts is carried through town.
Festa d'o' Cippo di Sant' Antonio (Jan 17), Naples. A procession for St. Anthony,protector of animals.
Carnevale (a month-long event finishing Shrove Tue),Viareggio, Tuscany. A carnival famous for its lively, topically themed floats.
Fair of St Orsa ( Jan 30-31), Aosta, Valle d' Aosta.Exhibition of traditional arts and crafts.
Carnevale (last ten days before Lent, finishing Shrove Tuesday), Venice. Pre-Lent festival meaning "farewell to meat."Events are organized, but anyone can buy a mask and watch the array of gorgeous costumes on show.
Sagra delle Mandorle in Fiore (first or second week), Agrigento, Sicily. Annual almond blossom celebration.
Bacanal del Gnoco (dates vary), Verona. Traditional masked procession with both international and local allegorical floats. Masked ballsare held in the town's squares.
Carnevale (dates vary), Mamoiada, Sardinia. Processions include mamuthones wearing sinister black masks.
New Year's Day (Jan 1)
Epiphany (Jan 6)
Easter Sunday & Monday
Liberation Day (Apr 25)
Labor Day (May 1)
Republic Day (Jun 2)
Ferragosto (Aug 15)
All Saints' Day (Nov 1)
Immaculate Conception (Dec 8)
Christmas Day (Dec 25)
Santo Stefano (Dec 26)
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