For major events in which tickets should be procured well before arriving, check with Keith Prowse in the United States at tel. 800/669-8687; www.keithprowse.com.
Epiphany celebrations, nationwide. All cities, towns, and villages in Italy stage Roman Catholic Epiphany observances. One of the most festive celebrations is the Epiphany Fair at Rome's Piazza Navona. Usually January 5 to January 6.
Festa di Sant'Agnese, Sant'Agnese Fuori le Mura. During this ancient ceremony, two lambs are blessed and shorn, and their wool is used later for palliums (Roman Catholic vestments). Usually January 21.
Carnevale, Piazza Navona, Rome. This festival marks the last day of the children's market and lasts until dawn of the following day. Usually 3 days before Ash Wednesday.
Festa di Santa Francesca Romana, Piazzale del Colosseo near Santa Francesca Romana in the Roman Forum. A blessing of cars is performed at this festival. Usually March 9.
Festa di San Giuseppe, the Trionfale Quarter, north of the Vatican. The heavily decorated statue of the saint is brought out at a fair with food stalls, concerts, and sporting events. Usually March 19.
Holy Week observances. Processions and age-old ceremonies -- some from pagan days, some from the Middle Ages -- are staged throughout the country. The most notable procession is led by the pope, passing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum up to Palatine Hill; a torch-lit parade caps the observance. Beginning 4 days before Easter Sunday.
Easter Sunday (Pasqua). In an event broadcast around the world, the pope gives his blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's.
Festa della Primavera, Rome. The Spanish Steps are decked out with banks of azaleas and other flowers; later, orchestral and choral concerts are presented in Trinità dei Monti. Dates vary.
Concorso Ippico Internazionale (International Horse Show), Piazza di Siena in the Villa Borghese. Usually May.
Son et Lumière. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Tivoli areas are dramatically lit at night. Early June to end of September.
Festa di San Pietro, St. Peter's Basilica, Rome. This most significant Roman religious festival is observed with solemn rites. Usually around June 29.
Estate Romana. The Rome Summer Festival lasts for 6 weeks of mostly outdoor shows, with an emphasis on music -- from rock to opera, from reggae to jazz. Late June to early August. For more information, check www.estateromana.comune.roma.it.
Festa di Noantri, Trastevere. In July, Rome's most colorful neighborhood becomes a gigantic outdoor restaurant, with tables lining the streets, and musicians providing the entertainment. Find the first empty table and try to get a waiter -- but keep an eye on your valuables. For details, contact the tourist information service run by the commune di Roma (tel. 06-0608).
Festa delle Catene, San Pietro in Vincoli. The chains of St. Peter are shown to the faithful during prayer. August 1.
Ferragosto. Beginning on August 15, most city residents not directly involved with the tourist trade take a 2-week vacation (many restaurants are closed as well). This is a good time not to be in Rome.
Sagra dell'Uva, Basilica of Maxentius, the Roman Forum. At this harvest festival, musicians in ancient costumes entertain, and grapes are sold at reduced prices. Dates vary, usually early September.
Christmas Blessing of the Pope. Delivered at noon from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, the pope's words are broadcast around the world. December 25.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.