Year-Round Italian Holidays and Festivals

Corpus Domini Day, an annual event in Orvieto, Italy.
Corpus Domini Day, an annual event in Orvieto, Italy.

PaoloGaetano / Getty Images

Italian holidays, festivals, and feast days reflect Italian culture, history, and religious practices. While some Italian holidays are similar to those celebrated throughout the world, many others are unique to Italy: for example, the Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day), a national holiday commemorating the 1945 liberation that ended World War II in Italy.

In addition to national holidays (when government offices and most businesses and retail shops are closed), many Italian towns and villages celebrate feast days honoring their own santo patronos (patron saints). 

When consulting an Italian calendar, note that if a religious festival or holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, Italians often fare il ponte. This expression, which literally means "make a bridge," refers to the fact that many Italians make a four-day holiday by taking off the intervening Monday or Friday. With the exception of the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, celebrated in Rome annually on June 29, the list below contains holidays and festivals celebrated or observed throughout all of Italy.

January 7: Giornata Nazionale della Bandiera (Flag Day)

On Jan. 7, the Italian flag—also known as the Tricolor for its three colors of green, white, and red—is celebrated. The patriotic day marks the birth of the official flag of Italy, which took place in 1797.  The holiday also honors historical figures who fought for and advocated Italian independence, including Camillo Paolo Filippo Giulio Benso, Count of Cavour, and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

April 25: Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day)

Italy's Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day) is a national Italian holiday commemorating the end of the Nazi occupation of Italy.

April 25, 1945 is the day that two specific Italian cities, Milan and Turin, were liberated, and the the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy proclaimed victory for the Italian insurgency. However, by convention, the entire country celebrates the holiday as a day marking the end of World War II. 

Liberation Day honors Italians who fought against the Nazis as well as the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, who was executed on April 28, 1945.

Italians celebrate the day with marching bands, music concerts, food festivals, political rallies, and other public gatherings throughout the country.

February 14: Festa degli Innamorati - San Valentino (St. Valentine's Day)

Many countries celebrate Valentine's Day, but it has particular resonance and history in Italy. But, Valentine's Day, the feast of lovers, has its roots in ancient Rome's wild annual pagan holiday

In ancient Rome, February 15 marked a pagan holiday celebrating wild, unrestrained ideas of fertility that openly contrasted Christian ideas of love. The pope wanted a holiday—still celebrating love—that was more restrained than the popular pagan version, and thus Valentine's Day was born.

There were many saints named Valentino, but the likely namesake for the holiday was St. Valentine of Rome, who was beheaded on Feb. 14, 274 for trying to convert the Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus to Christianity.

June 2: Festa della Repubblica Italiana (Festival of the Italian Republic)

The Festa della Repubblica Italiana (Festival of the Italian Republic) is celebrated every June 2 to commemorate the birth of the Italian Republic. On June 2 and 3, 1946, following the fall of fascism and the end of World War II, an institutional referendum was held in which Italians were asked to vote on what form of government they preferred: a monarchy or republic. The majority of Italians favored a republic, so the monarchs of the House of Savoy were exiled.

June 29: La Festa di San Pietro e Paolo (Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul)

Every year, Rome celebrates its patron saints, Peter and Paul, with various religious rituals led by the pope. Other events on this day include music, entertainment, fireworks, and fairs. The day is a public holiday in Rome, so many businesses and public offices are closed in the city (though not nationally).

November 1: Ognissanti (All Saints' Day)

All Saints’ Day, celebrated on November 1 each year, is a sacred holiday in Italy. The origins of the holiday, which honors all of the saints in Catholicism, go back to the beginning of Christianity. On this day, Catholics in Italy (and throughout the world) attend mass to honor their favorite saints.

November 2: Il Giorno dei Morti (Day of the Dead)

All Saints Day is followed on November 2 by Il Giorno dei Morti (Day of the Dead). After celebrating and honoring the lives of saints, Italians spend the day honoring the lives of the relatives and friends who have passed away. During this day, it is customary for Italians to visit local cemeteries and bring flowers and even gifts to remember and connect with loved ones they have lost over the years.