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WHAT CHANGES IN ITALY

On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week

From public holidays to food festivals, here are the key events happening in Italy this week that you should know about.

Milanese residents get a public holiday this week to celebrate their patron saint day.
Milanese residents get a public holiday this week to celebrate their patron saint day. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Monday

Ischia schools reopens – Primary schools will reopen in Ischia on Monday, just over a week after a deadly landslide that has so far claimed at least 11 lives led to evacuations and closures.

In a press conference on Saturday, Ischia commissioner Giovanni Legnini said that around one thousand of the island’s displaced residents were staying with friends and relatives, with over 400 more in hotels or independent accommodation.

High schools on the island are due to reopen on Wednesday.

Tuesday

Booking opens for Orient Express – Wealthy travellers looking for an Agatha Christie-style experience can book tickets for a ride on Italy’s new ‘La Dolce Vita’ Orient Express on Tuesday – a full two years before it sets off for the first time.

The train will reportedly have six different itineraries, from the Alps to the beaches of southern Italy, and incorporate 12 deluxe cabins, 18 suites, one La Dolce Vita suite, and a restaurant with 5-star service.

Passengers wanting to make an advance booking will need to pay a €500 deposit, with tickets starting at €2,000 per night.

Italy will get its own Orient Express luxury train service - in two years' time.

Italy will get its own Orient Express luxury train service – in two years’ time. Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP.

Wednesday 

Day off in Milan – December 7th is a public holiday in Milan as residents commemorate their beloved patron saint, St Ambrose.

The annual Festa di Sant’Ambrogio gives residents an opportunity to catch up with family and friends and unofficially marks the start of the festive season in the northern metropolis.

READ ALSO: Why do Milan residents get a day off on December 7th?

On the day, families get together to celebrate in the best way known to Italians: with a big lunch, featuring local delicacies including Milanese-style risotto, mondeghili (meatballs) and rostin negàa (veal cutlets).

And the city has no shortage of events and activities to enjoy after the feast.

Thursday

National public holiday – Thursday, December 8th is a public holiday throughout Italy as residents celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which commemorates the conception of the Virgin Mary.

Most Italian families celebrate with a big lunch, and may hold firework displays or light bonfires outside. 

READ ALSO: Why is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception a holiday in Italy?

December 8th unofficially marks the beginning of the Christmas period, with most towns putting up their Christmas lights on the day and pretty much everything in the country – especially administration-related procedures – noticeably slowing down from this point on.

This means you might want to get any important paperwork done before December 8th, or else you may have to wait until January 6th, when the Italian holidays officially end.

Friday

Abruzzo truffle festival – The first edition of the Abruzzo International Truffle Fair is set to take place from 9th-11th December in the region’s capital, L’Aquila.

The festival will involve 42 stalls and more than 60 companies, and will incorporate truffle-based food trucks, entertainment, master classes and seminars.

The event will be held in L’Aquila’s in the park surrounding the city’s 16th century castle, close to the historic centre.

L'Aquila in Abruzzo will host its first international truffle fair on December 9th-11th.

L’Aquila in Abruzzo will host its first international truffle fair on December 9th-11th. Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP.

Saturday

Modena food festival – The 11th edition of the ‘Zampone and Cotechino Modena’ Festival returns to Modena’s Piazza Roma from 9th-11th December, after two years of pandemic cancellations and restrictions.

Students from some of Italy’s leading catering schools will compete to make the most mouthwatering dish, turning the square into an open-air kitchen. This one’s not for vegetarians: zampone and cotechino are types of spiced, slow-cooked pork.

Massimo Bottura, the owner-chef of Modena’s three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana, has reportedly picked the 10 best recipes submitted by participating student-chefs and will lead the jury judging the competition.

Sunday

Trenitalia winter timetable – Italy’s main train operator Trenitalia switches to a winter timetable from Sunday, December 11th.

New features include an increase in the number of Frecciarossa Rome-Milan non-stop fast trains, double-decker carriages with a capacity of 900 passengers, and podcasts with guides to the passenger’s destination, the company announced.

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WHAT CHANGES IN ITALY

On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week

From freezing weather to the start of Carnival celebrations, here's what to expect in Italy this week.

On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week

Monday

Colder weather on the way

Temperatures are expected to drop again in the coming days as a cold air front moves in from the north-east.

Below-zero temperatures are predicted for the north in particular, including in the cities of Milan, Turin and Bologna.

READ ALSO: Ten phrases to talk about cold and wet weather like a true Italian

Forecasts say the Alps and some sections of the Apennines could see snowstorms, while southern regions, including the islands, are expected to be hit by heavy rain.

Tuesday

New anti-waste app launches

There are various apps on the market tracking food waste and Italy is now set to have its own, as the Sprecometro app developed by the Waste Watcher International Observatory together with the University of Bologna will be launched on Tuesday, January 31st.

The free app aims to help reduce food waste, help develop more sustainable eating habits, and raise awareness of environmental impact.

Wednesday

Instalment plans for energy bills

Energy bills are stretching many household budgets in Italy as elsewhere this winter, but it’s possible to pay in instalments..

Energy provider Plenitude, a subsidiary of Italy’s oil giant Eni, offers interest-free payment plans to households and small businesses, and the window to sign up for 2023 opens on Wednesday, February 1st. Find information on Plenitude’s website.

Saturday

Carnival celebrations start in Venice and Viareggio

Though Carnival celebrations will peak in the six-day period between Thursday, February 16th (giovedì grasso) and Tuesday, February 21st (martedì grasso), Carnival-related events will officially start on Saturday, February 4th.

Venice’s famous Carnival will kick off celebrations with a floating parade along the Grand Canal while in Viareggio, Tuscany, the 2023 Carnival opening ceremony will be followed by a fireworks show.

Sunday

Italy faces France in Rome in Six Nations opener

Italy’s national rugby team will start their journey in the historic Six Nations Championship by facing title holders France in Rome on Sunday, February 5th. 

The game will be broadcast on both SkySport Italy and TV8 (channel eight on your TV set).

Those wishing to see the Azzurri in action from up close can get tickets for the Stadio Olimpico matchup here.

Free Museum Sunday

State museums and archaeological sites across Italy will allow free entrance on Sunday, February 5th as part of the monthly Domenica al Museo, known as ‘Free Museum Sundays’ in English, which is held on every first Sunday of the month. Read more here.

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