What to do in August in Cortona, Italy (2019)

All the events in one place, from Sagre to Small Music Festivals!

August is a unique month in Italy – everyone is taking vacations and big cities are half empty, especially around Ferragosto, the 15th, which is a national holiday and a traditional day where everyone goes to the seaside or at least has a barbecue with friends. Being a small tourist destination though, Cortona really makes an exception. I mean, locals still celebrate Ferragosto, but the town is alive, lively, and full of people, maybe more than in other months. Typically we get more people from European countries than from overseas and a lot of Italians would also choose Cortona as their holiday destination for a few days. As a matter of fact, there is a lot to do this August in Cortona to manage the Summer heat and not get bored.

Cortona in August – It’s all about music

A recent tradition but always one of the best nights during the Summer in Cortona, it’s the Cortona Jazz Night, on August 10. Also known in Italian as “Notte Bianca” (“white night”), on the 10th the shops will be open till late and from 6 pm to midnight jazz music concerts will animate the center. The event will also feature wine tastings, street food, a DJ set, and Via Dardano will be exceptionally closed to traffic.

Classical concerts and sacred music also play an important role this month. Starting from Festa Del Perdono, with vespers and choir exhibitions at Le Celle (August 2nd and 3rd), to go to the series of classical concerts named “MusicAgosto 2019”. Locations include the courtyard of San Niccolò church, the Duomo, and the Signorelli Theater. Also, a series of organ concerts will be held every weekend in August, either on Sundays or Saturdays, starting on August 3rd at S.Chiara Monastery. On Friday the 9th another organ concert will be at San Cristoforo Church, with the churches of the town exceptionally open at night for Friday and Saturday that weekend.

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  • festa del perdono le celle
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Sagre in Cortona and around – Food festivals in August

With regards to food events, the most famous one is the “Sagra della Bistecca” (T-bone Steak Festival), very popular among locals. On the 14-15-16th of August, succulent T-bone steaks of Chianina meat are cooked on a giant grill (14-square-meters) at the Parterre public gardens. It’s a must see only for the grill!
On the weekend immediately after the bistecca, another Sagra will occupy the Parterre grounds: it’s the porcini mushrooms festival. In an informal setting, you can enjoy tasty local dishes made with fresh Porcini, the “king” of mushrooms in Tuscany. Try it fried!
Another interesting and long-time running food festival, is the Sagra del Piccione (roast pidgeon) in Montecchio. The roast pigeon is served on Saturday and Sunday the 3rd and 4th of August.
Also, in Mercatale locals organize the annual tagliatella festival, with handmade pasta and traditional sauces. Mercatale is located in the beautriful valley behind Cortona, passed Pergo and Montanare, approximately 20 minutes drive from the town center. This event will take place on the nights from the 9th to the 10th and from the 13th to the 18th of August.

More Events for a memorable August in Tuscany

Also, Girifalco Fortress and On The Move Association offers an interesting calendar of events this month. A series of DJ sets and disco parties in the unique historic location of the fortress (on August 3rd and 24th, ticket 15€) will be fun for the young visitors. Also, on Sunday the 11th a special aperitivo is organized at sunset—definitely a drink with a view! The aperitivo event is followed by the concert of Bobo Rondelli, an independent Italian singer and author from Livorno. A second concert will be on the 22nd, by the Italian singer Ginevra di Marco.
Photo exhibitions from Cortona On The Move continue for the whole month, be sure not to miss them!

Last but not least, on August 24 a new edition of CortonaAntiquaria will open its doors. The antique trade show is one of the oldest events in town, with its 1st edition back in 1963. At Palazzo Vagnotti, you can find stunning furniture, exquisite pottery, or special pieces from Italian collectors. Great to get a glimpse of the old Italian lifestyle! This year a special exhibition will display unique ceramics from the local, XVIII century ceramic factory, Catrosse in Cortona.

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