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Flying tonight: Teatrop performing at the Street Art Festival in Certaldo. Photo: Linda Leocata
Art & CultureEvents & Festivals

Five Tuscan summer festivals you should not miss

By Sean Caulfield

Mercantia: There’s a feast for the senses when Mercantia hits the streets of Certaldo, a small hilltown about an hour’s drive from Florence (11-15 July in 2018). Spectators are invited to enter the “fourth dimension” at the many intriguing performances that take place each day in atmospheric locations, from secluded courtyards to secret gardens. Leave your car at the bottom of the hill and ride the funicular railway up to the heart of the action.

Il Palio di Siena: The world-famous Il Palio di Siena is a fast and furious bareback horse race that takes place not once but twice a year in Siena’s medieval Piazza del Campo (next on 16 August in 2018). Different districts of the city enter a horse and rider, sporting their colours and emblems, to race around the perimeter of the shell-shaped piazza, cheered on by hundreds of spectators. In the days leading up to the race, Siena’s streets are dressed with colourful local banners, while on the afternoon of the event the piazza buzzes with historic parades before the horses and riders go under starter’s orders at 7pm.

Pistoia Blues: For almost 40 years, the city of Pistoia has hosted the internationally renowned Pistoia Blues festival in the Piazza Duomo (10-15 July in 2018), an historic setting for this contemporary event. This year’s big names include Alanis Morissette, James Blunt, Graham Nash and Steve Hackett. For villas in the area, see here.

Medieval Festival: The good people of Monteriggioni travel back in time to the Middle Ages once a year, bringing the period to life with a fun annual Medieval Festival. Proceeds begin on 5 July with a costumed banquet at the castle, and, for the following two weekends, the locals go about their business dressed in costume, transformed into nobles and commoners from yesteryear. There’s live music, dance and theatre performances, and the chance to taste traditional regional food.

Lucca Summer Festival: Every July, the pretty walled city of Lucca reverberates to the sound of top international acts as the month-long music event Lucca Summer Festival comes to town. Still to perform in the 2018 programme are Gorillaz, former Beatle Ringo Starr, Roger Waters, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Lenny Kravitz, James Taylor and many more.

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