he Lombardy region of northwestern Italy borders on Switzerland. It should come as no surprise that spring doesn’t always start in early March.Lombardy is home to the fashion and economic capital of Italy, Milan, and is also the lake region of Italy. You won’t regret a spring visit.
The first Monday of March the village of Nesso, population 1300, situated about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Milan holds the Fiera di Marzo, a country fair of merchandise and animals on a bank of Lake Como. On or about March 18 the small town of Lezzeno, population 2 thousand, also situated about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Milan hosts its annual Palio dei Falo (Bonfire Competition), a centuries old tradition in which neighborhoods compete for the largest, loveliest, and the most unusual bonfire.
The town of Castelleone, population 9 thousand, located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Milan starts their Bonfire of San Guiseppe early on March 19 when runners carry a small statue from the Sanctuary of Caravaggio to the Church of Santa Maria of Misericordia. Then a large parade carries the statue throughout the town streets. At night there’s a giant bonfire with plenty of food and wine. Brembio, population 2400, some 28 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Milan hosts a Rabbit Show with hundreds of those furry creatures around March 19. On March 31 Zogno a city of 9 thousand 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Milan celebrates the Ciacciata di Marzo (Kicking March Out!) Festival, where the young people invade the streets in the afternoon and evening; ringing cowbells to say goodbye to Old Man Winter.
The city of Cremona, population about 72 thousand, some 65 miles (105 kilometers) southeast of Milan holds an antique show called A Thousand Toys. Many of the toys are literally hundreds of years old. Even if you don’t have kids circle the first Sunday in April on your calendar. On April 9 and 10 the town of Pontida, population 3 thousand situated some 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Milan hosts a costumed parade commemorating a local alliance to fight the head of the Holy Roman Empire, Federico Barbarossa. A little later in the month the city of Brescia whose population is about 200 thousand holds a firearms and accessories show.
On the second weekend of May Brescia hosts the Mille Miglia (Thousand Mile Race), a non-competitive version of the world famous auto race of the 30’s and 40’s. Hundreds of thousands of spectators watch 400 classic cars zip through the city streets as part of a thousand mile (1600 kilometer) race throughout northern and central Italy. The city of Legnano, population about 60 thousand, holds its Carroccio Festival & Palio delle Contrade on May 23rd to celebrate a military victory in 1176. Hundreds of people parade in medieval costumes. There is an ox cart and then a horse race. A few days later the city of Caravaggio, population 16 thousand, located 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of you know where, hosts the Madonna of the Fountain celebration commemorating Madonna’s miraculous appearance in 1432 to console a young woman in distress. Why not celebrate the final Sunday of May in the beautiful walled city of Bergamo, population 120 thousand, situated about 60 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Milan at the Bergamo Marathon? You may even apply to run.
Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.