(Specific excerpts taken from the publication issued by the Agency for the Promotion of Tourism in Umbria, 2000.)
"Glancing at the calendar of events animating the towns of Umbria during the year, one is immediately struck by the number and variety of traditional celebrations along with the most diverse expressions of contemporary creativity."
Typical local products are frequently the focus, involving age old culinary traditions and providing participants the opportunity to partake in the scrumptious wares. Norcia honors it's famed black truffle, along with sausages, salami, lentils and cheese while the white truffles are touted in Citta di Castello. A wine tasting competition takes place in Torgiano. Perugia sports the Eurochocolate festival paying homage to the "Food of the Gods".
Religions rituals such as those venerating St. Francis, St. Rita and St. Benedict are steeped in mysticism and ceremony. The Ceri Race Festival in Gubbio is an amazing demonstration in which huge wooden structures, surmounted by statues of St. Ubaldo, St. Giorgio and St. Antonio, are hefted through the streets. The Festival of the Palombella in Orvieto is held on Pentacostal Sunday. The "Infiorati" in Spello celebrates Corpus Cristi with elaborate floral compositions which line the streets and fill the air with the sweet perfume of the flower petal display.
Festivals commemorating the past are particularly fascinating. Ancient hunting skills using medieval fixed cross bows are demonstrated in Gubbio. The Gaite Faire in Bevagna revives medieval daily life with typical workshops, inns and markets of the time. The Calendimaggio in Assisi evokes medieval life with competitions involving costumes, theater, singing, dancing, parades and flag waving challenges.
Predictably, music, art and antiques are also the subject of numerous gala events. One of the most famous is the Umbria Jazz festival in Perugia. The Antique Exhibitions in both Todi and Assisi are "no-miss events" for antique lovers and dealers alike. The Spoleto festival, established in 1958 with the aim of creating opportunities for European and American cultures to meet, offers exhibits and public performances of dance, opera, concerts, film and art.
The return of Spring is applauded at the Cantamaggio in Terni and the Water Festival in Piediluco rejoices the summer solstice with an illuminated procession of water floats and firework. A rowing regatta is also held here in May.
Finally, not to be forgotten, some events are designed to celebrate the sheer joy of living. The Mongolfiero in Todi is just that and draws hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over the world. Sure you can hitch a ride but you will have to be an early riser. Most of the balloons lift off around 5AM!