February is frigid in most parts of Italy, but is not without its festivities. There’s Valentine’s Day and Carnevale, and many Italian schools observe a winter break called Settimana Bianca — White Week — a time for skiing and sledding.
February in Italy: Holidays, Festivals, and Other Events
Carnevale / Carnival
Depending on the calendar, Carnevale season begins as early as February 3. Carnival celebrations run for approximately two weeks, with big events, parades, balls, performances, and food fairs. The best known Carnival celebrations in Italy take place in Venice and Viareggio, a seaside town in Tuscany.
Near Rome, the town of Ronciglione is known for its carnival and riderless horse race, which have origins that date back to the 16th century.
February 5 – Feast Day of Saint Agatha, Catania (Sicily)
Saint Agatha (Sant’Agata) is the patron saint of Molise, Gallipoli (Puglia), the Republic of San Marino, and in Catania (Sicily) where she was born. Her feast day is celebrated on 5 February, the day when the young saint is believed to have been martyred in 251.
Catania commemorates Sant’Agata — the Santuzza — every year from 3-5 February with candelora processions, fireworks, and desserts in the shape of breasts called Minne di Sant’Agata. It is the largest religious festival devoted to Saint Agatha in Italy and the most important festival of the year in the Sicilian city.
Saint Agatha, whose breasts were cut off as part of her torture, is also the patron saint of rape victims, breast cancer patients, bell founders, and volcanic eruptions.
February 14 – Valentine’s Day
If you want to spend lovers’ day in the home of St. Valentine, head to the town of Terni in Umbria.
Another ideal spot for you and your valentine on the 14th is in Verona, which holds the Verona in Love festival each year in honor of young lovers Romeo and Juliet. Stagings of Shakespeare’s play, as well as art exhibitions and sweet markets, complete the week-long love fest.
Another place to spend Valentine’s Day? Rome.
Saldi – Winter Sales
Winter Sales (saldi) continue throughout February. See January for info.
Quick Guide to Dates in February: Anniversaries, Events, Births, and Deaths
- Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème performed for the first time in Turin (1896)
- Death of Baldassare Castiglione (1529), author of the Book of the Courtier
- Earliest possible date for Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
- Feast Day of San Biagio
- Birth of sculptor Giuseppe Moretti (1857)
- Cavalese cable car disaster near Trento (1998)
- Death of Septimius Severus (211)
- Death of Antonio del Pollaiolo (1498)
- Feast Day of Saint Agatha
- “Bonfire of the Vanities” in Florence (1497)
- Birth of Guercino (1591)
- Death of Nicola Salvi (1751), architect of the Trevi Fountain
- First section of Rome’s Metropolitana underground system inaugurated (1955)
- Giorno del Ricordo / National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe. “The remembrance is in memory of the killing and enforced exile of Italians and democrat or anticommunist Slavs ordered by communist dictator Josip Broz Tito in 1943–60.”
- Birth of Ottavio Missoni (1921), founder of fashion brand Missoni
- Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See sign the Lateran Treaty, establishing Vatican City as an independent city-state (1929)
- Death of Giuseppe Donizetti (1856)
- Death of Francesco Hayez (1882), painter of the famous “The Kiss” painting in Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera
- Birth of director Franco Zeffirelli (1923)
- Death of Giovanni Brancaccio (1975)
- Death of Benvenuto Cellini (1571)
- Feast Day of San Valentino/Valentine’s Day
- Birth of Leon Battista Alberti (1404)
- Death of Il Sodoma (1549)
- Feast Day of Saints Faustino and Giovita, patron saints of Brescia
- Traditional date of Lupercalia, Roman fertility festival
- Birth of Galileo Galilei (1564)
- Beginning of the assault on Monte Cassino (1944)
- Death of poet and Nobel laureate Giosuè Carducci (1907)
- Birth of Valentino Rossi (1979)
- Death of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake for heresy in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori (1600)
- Death of Fra Angelico (1455)
- Death of Michelangelo (1564)
- Birth of Enzo Ferrari (1898), founder of Ferrari
- Death of Umberto Eco (2016)
- Debut of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Rome’s Teatro Argentina (1816)
- Death of Ferruccio Lamborghini (1993), founder of Lamborghini
- First known case of coronavirus in Italy detected in Codogno (2020)
- Feast Day of Santa Margherita of Cortona
- Feast Day of the Chair of Saint Peter in the Vatican
- Death of Amerigo Vespucci (1512)
- Death of John Keats (1821), buried in Rome’s Protestant Cemetery
- Death of Sandro Pertini (1990), voice of the Italian Resistance and later seventh President of Italy
- Birth of Mattia Preti (1613), prolific painter influenced by Caravaggio
- Birth of Enrico Caruso (1873)
- Death of Roger II of Sicily (1154), founder of the Kingdom of Sicily
- First broadcast of Radio Italia, a station dedicated to playing only Italian music (1982)
- Birth of Constantine the Great (272)
- Birth of Marino Marini (1901)
- Birth of Gioachino Rossini (1792)